“Spoking” in the World Language Classroom with Infographics

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In today’s image-rich world, infographics have become an essential way to convey information and statistics without an overwhelming overdose of text.   This feature makes infographics an ideal instructional tool for teachers in the world language classroom. I often use infographics in the to elicit responses and reactions from students in the target language.

THE PROCESS

To begin, I look at our current unit of study, and simply search for infographics online that highlight those grammatical concepts and vocabulary. Most of the time, I type “infographics in Spanish” or enter the specific topic in the search bar. Tons of options appear! Another good site to find infographics is on Pinterest.  I always try to find one that is clear, colorful, and has a balance of text and images. It is also helpful if the infographic contains cognates. If possible, I make color copies to distribute to the students. I oftentimes choose to  laminate a classroom set for future use.

IN CLASS:

Project the infographic on a large screen in the classroom.  Below is one that I found online for the sports unit that I teach.  I have chosen this to model the activity because of the high number of cognates and minimal text.

When I first started using infographics, I would I generate and ask the students questions.   However, it seemed too rapid-fire to me and that I was doing all of the work! So, then I started modeling a few, and then I had the students take over.  Working in pairs, students ask each other questions about the information provided on the infographic. Of course, the focus is on question words so sometimes I review those first, and these past few years I have actually had them posted throughout the room.  As students ask each other questions, I circulate around the room to spot check, model or rephrase.  

At first glance, you may think that the infographic above is fairly limited, but sometimes less is more!  I also try to keep it simple with novice learners. More advanced learners can handle more text.  

Here is a list of possible questions/topics that could be generated from the above infographic:

  • Ordinal numbers:  Which sport is first?  Second? Third? Etc.
  • Verbs:  particular to sports– run, jump, stretch, catch, train…etc.  in a variety of tenses. Equipment: What do you need to play _________?  
  • Opinion:  What do you like to play?  Which sport is easy/hard etc.  Does it surprise you that swimming is first? ** This is especially good for the subjunctive!**
  • Advantages/disadvantages of certain sports
  • Where you play certain sports
  • Superlative:  Which sport is the most popular?  The least popular? The most interesting to you?  The most difficult to play in your opinion?
  • Comparative:   Which sport is more popular:  _________ or ________?
  • Cultural topics:  Which sports teams in Spanish speaking countries do you know about?  Which sports are popular where you live?
  • Numbers
  • Percentages

On occasion, students may find generating all of these questions difficult.  If so, as a class, you can read through the stats together, gleaning over the basic information.  You can ask some questions about the infographic to get them going. Then… students start spoking!

I named this activity as such because the graphic below reminds me of a bicycle wheel with spokes.  Before beginning, I encourage students to focus on the question words, and then let them start formulating questions.  You can have them work in pairs or individually. On average, I give them about 5-10 minutes to generate the questions.  As they write, I walk around the room and offer feedback and guidance. Of course, questions are generated in the target language.  Encourage students to take a chance… making mistakes is OK!

After the time allotment, I pair up students and they ask each other their sets of questions.  Again, it is important to provide informal feedback in this formative speaking activity. Get a feel for when most students have finished, and then have volunteers ask you their questions. 

What I have discovered along the way from this activity?

  • You can keep it simple, with only a few learning targets.  Share with students what they need to focus on: Just ordinal numbers?  What clothing and equipment is needed for each sport? Other specific vocabulary?  Use of the subjunctive to express surprise and/or opinion? Another tense? This will help students feel less overwhelmed.
  • For more advanced students, I find that they don’t necessarily need to write questions down.  They can formulate questions quickly and share immediately with a partner.
  • Older students have shared with me that they have used this graphic organizing technique for an AP reading passage or speaking prompt. 
  • Finding an appropriate infographic may take some time.  However, that is where the majority of the work is. After that, it is all student!
  • Keep in mind what your learning objectives are:  is it accuracy or proficiency?

THEN WHAT?

For a formal speaking assessment, I have posted the same infographic on Extempore later on down the line.  Students are asked to answer a series of questions about the information presented on the infographic. You have already practiced this in class and therefore have set the student up for success!  

This post is courtesy of Andrea Nazelli who is the Spanish department chair and teacher at Detroit Country Day School. Want more activity ideas? See one of her previous posts: A No Prep Activity for the World Language Classroom.