Incorporating Infographics in World Language Classes
Visuals combined with short blurbs in the target language make infographics a valuable tool for both beginners and more advanced students.
While we always strive to get our students reading in the target language, we sometimes forget that there are various options besides lengthy texts. Infographics offer bite-sized pieces of information with visual supports in place.
Unlike stories or articles, an infographic typically breaks up bits of information and includes titles, keywords, and images. This is especially useful for novice language learners. Reading an infographic allows students to comprehend the main idea and some supporting details without overwhelming them with excess information, and to explore new vocabulary and reinforce what they already know.
Infographics can serve as authentic resources that meet the needs of beginner, intermediate, or advanced language learners. The possibilities are endless.
There are countless infographics available on Pinterest in a variety of languages that focus on different topics. Leslie Grahn is a go-to Pinterest user and esteemed language professional who has organized extensive infographics by language and theme—access her infographics via Pinterest here.
One infographic that you use in your classes might focus on recycling or healthy eating habits, while another may be about a cultural celebration such as Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). Find an infographic in the target language that is relevant to a topic you cover in your curriculum and then design interpretive activities based on the infographic.
To start with novice, beginner-level language learners, look for infographics that have a generous amount of visuals. Ask students to identify any words they recognize.
When teaching my Spanish I students about Día de los Muertos, I pre-teach some key words related to the holiday and the preparations and traditions associated with it. In the infographic linked here, I ask students to identify as many words as they can, using the labeled visuals provided as well as their prior knowledge. I then ask them to identify the main idea of the infographic in English: Why was this resource created? What is the author trying to explain to us? What is the purpose of it? This requires students to interpret the title and content of the infographic.
I then create several true/false questions in Spanish to further build on students’ comprehension skills. Rather than reinforcing vocabulary with lists or flashcards, infographics expose students to new words with context, while still requiring them to engage in critical thinking.
For Intermediate Students
For my intermediate-level students, I look for infographics that incorporate some of the specific vocabulary we are targeting in the unit. For example, when teaching a unit about relationships, I utilize the infographic linked here labeled “Habilidades Sociales,” which focuses on social skills and how to maintain healthy, positive relationships with others.
I ask the students to describe each of these social abilities in their own words as well as to explain why every point is significant. I then ask them to defend their opinions by determining which characteristic they feel is most important in their own lives and additionally ask them to identify what they can improve upon in their own relationships with friends, family members, or significant others.
Again, students are able to acquire new vocabulary words from this infographic that they might not have been familiar with before; the descriptions provided under each title give them the context they need to understand the meaning.
It’s important to note that infographics also make it easy to connect to a target language culture or community. When comparing and contrasting family structure in Mexico versus in the United States, my intermediate learners are able to use the infographic linked here as a source of information. With this resource, I ask them to identify trends in families in Mexico. I then ask them to consider whether or not they feel that those same trends are present in families in the United States and to elaborate by providing some examples.
To take the activity a step further, I could ask my students to find another external source that relates to the main idea presented by the infographic. This infographic is rich in vocabulary related to the topic of families and thereby offers another means of reinforcement for students. They are able to apply and use what they have learned when exploring this resource.
Overall, infographics are useful tools in the world language classroom and can lead to multiple opportunities for students to advance their language proficiency and to broaden their cultural knowledge. Infographics are visually appealing, are culturally rich, and allow the teacher to differentiate tasks with more ease. They offer a level of creativity, igniting student interest and engagement.