Visuals play a significant role in teaching foreign languages since they help teachers to clarify the meaning of new words and grammar structures, serve as prompts in speaking and writing. It’s not always possible to have all the necessary pictures with you because some lexis may emerge during the lesson or you just fail to find a picture which you need. Sometimes to draw is less time consuming than searching for photos on Google or free photo stocks.
‘I can’t draw’ you can say. But you don’t need to have any special skills. Let me demonstrate how to draw quickly using a whiteboard. I applied lots of ideas from ‘1000 pictures for teachers to copy’ by Andrew Wright.
Which online whiteboards can you use?
There are plenty of online whiteboards nowadays. Almost every platform has one. Here is the list of some boards that come in handy if you teach online.
A whiteboard in Zoom (free for one-on-one students)
IDroo (free but limited to 10 saved boards)
Twiddla (free with limited functions)
Conceptboard (free with limited functions
Whiteboard Fox (free and simple, no registration required, but a pencil is the only available tool for drawing).
How to draw on whiteboards?
Though Ieft art school a long time ago, my drawings on whiteboards often looked like this. It’s not so easy to cope with an online pen or a pencil. By the way, it’s the Eiffel Tower in the picture if you haven’t noticed :).
But recently I’ve started using some techniques to make my pictures look much better.
Using shapes for making straight lines and drawing faster
It’s difficult to draw straight lines on a whiteboard. To make your pictures less messy, use a rectangular, a rhombus and a circle to create a variety of objects: clothes, household things, animals, buildings, accessories etc.
You can use these objects to clarify the meaning of new words, for revision and some speaking tasks.
Using arrows, crosses, and ticks to create timelines
The tenses always cause confusion and should be put across well. Nothing helps to illustrate the meaning more than timelines with the examples of the sentences. The sentences accompanied by the pictures are more memorable.
For example, the timelines for the Past Simple and for the Past Continuous.
Pictures can help to grasp the difference between the two tenses. For example,
the Present Perfect vs the Present Perfect Continuous.
Copying illustrations in the books or the Internet
Even if you can’t draw, you can easily copy from somebody who can. Sometimes it’s better to use drawings than photos when, for example, we teach emotions.
Or when you teach action verbs (jump, run, swim) or the Present Continuous (She is swimming, they are playing). It’s a good idea to draw stick people because it saves time and allow you to create different settings for language tasks.
Do you draw in your lessons? If yes, what things? Please, share in your comments!