Visual Media: Supporting Content Learning and Critical Thinking in the CLIL Classroom


As English-medium content courses become more widespread in Japanese higher education, there is growing interest in multi-modal approaches which can assist student comprehension and discussion of complex issues. This presentation will consider the benefits of using visual media in the CLIL history and social sciences classroom, considering visuals both as a source of content input and as a basis for developing critical thinking skills. Visual sources such as art, photography, cartoons, advertising and film can bring background and context to learning, tap into learners’ existing cultural knowledge, and provide an emotional resonance which may be deliberately absent from textbook materials. The surface content of images can be used to supplement written sources, or to provide a contrast. Using multiple sources which overlap and disagree simulates the work of the historian, and helps students to understand the possibility of multiple conflicting interpretations of the same event. At the same time, however unposed or apolitical images may seem, they are texts constructed by an author and for an audience. Visual sources thus provide an accessible way to consider issues such as composition, symbolism, authorial intention, audience, bias, emotive depictions and factual distortions. I will introduce a number of activities in which I use visual sources to deepen student understanding of the topic or era being studied, and the kind of frameworks that can be used to stimulate critical thinking. I will also consider the use of visual organizers as a way to help students extract and discuss key content from texts.

Author Information
Caroline Hutchinson, Nihon University, Japan

Paper Information
Conference: ACL2021
Stream: Language and Culture

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Video Presentation

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