Using Images to Create Teaching Materials
Graphical images. Images are very useful when incorporated into
text-based foreign language teaching materials. Images containing graphical
material, such as a product label or a photo depicting a culture-specific
situation, a famous landmark, or an unfamiliar object can serve various
They can be used to clarify or provide context for textual material.
They can be used as a starting point for free written or oral expression, where
the student is directed to describe the images or use them as the basis of a
They can be used as a starting point for question and answer practice in pairs
or small groups.
They can be used as grounding and point of reference for teacher-led
Text-heavy images. While this graphic content is what usually comes to
mind when we think of images, digital image files often contain textual
material which has been captured by scanning or by a screen capture program.
These text-heavy images have their own advantages:
While they contain textual materials, they can have the look and feel of real
newspaper and magazine clippings.
Since images such as scanned magazine ads contain both text and graphic
material, they provide an interesting and entertaining way to introduce or
reinforce otherwise dry linguistic material.
Images combining text and graphic material provide immediate graphical context
for the textual content, helping students to situate the linguistic material in
its cultural context and allowing them to practice using contextual cues to
extrapolate from and extend their linguistic knowledge.
Embedding image files. A little known fact about image files is that
they can be easily embedded in word processor documents to create rich
instructional materials. This page will describe how to create a handout for
students which contains a scanned magazine advertisement, enriched with a
vocabulary list and questions for class discussion.
Creating an Instructional Handout from a Scanned Magazine
We'll now describe how to create an instructional handout centered around a
furniture and home appliance ad found on a Swahili magazine page which has been
scanned into the computer. You can apply the same techniques used in this
project to create materials from precropped images found in the authentic
materials of this web site, as well as from material clipped from PDF files as
described in Working with
Scanned page from a Swahili magazine.
Handout with extracted ad,
supplemented with vocabulary notes and questions.
Tools. We'll need two pieces of software for this project:
Graphics program. This could be either the commercial
Adobe Photoshop program or the free, open source program
The GIMP. Since the latter is free and available for all popular
platforms, The GIMP is the program we'll use in this tutorial. (Unfortunately,
for the tasks in this project, the Windows XP Paint utility is insufficient
because of limitations it has for working with large images.)
Word processor. The most ubiquitous word processor by far is Microsoft
Word. If you do not own Word or work on a platform for which it is not
available, you can use the free, open source program
Materials. We will assume that you know how to use a scanner to scan in
the image you want to work with. Scan in some page containing the graphic you'd
like to use as the basis for a handout. If you don't have access to a scanner
and you'd like to follow along the tutorial using the same Swahili magazine
page shown above, you can download it
here. (It is a much larger file than the one pictured above.)
Creating the handout. If you have access to the tools mentioned and a
scanned image, you are ready to begin. The steps can be summarized as follows:
- Open the image.
- Select the area you want to clip.
- Crop the image, removing all unwanted portions of the image.
- Save as a PNG or JPEG file.
- Import into a word processing document.
The details of each of these steps are as follows:
1. Open the image. Open the scanned image in your graphics program. Use the
View > Zoom tool. to zoom out enough that you can see the whole page
in a single window, as has been done here in The GIMP: As you can see, The GIMP opens a window of tool buttons in addition to a window
for each image opened.
Select and crop. In the window which contains the image, select the Choose
rectangular regions tool by finding Tools > Selection Tools > Rect
Now click and hold down at the top left-hand corner of the area you want to
extract . While still holding the mouse button down, drag the cursor to the
lower right-hand corner of the area you want to extract. When you release the
mouse button, a rectangular area will be selected, indicated by a dotted line.
Crop. Now, while the area you want is still selected, we will crop the
image, getting rid of all portions of the image outside the box we have drawn
around the portion we want. To do this select the cropping tool by selecting Image
Once you have done this, the area surrounding the selection box is cut away,
leaving only the selection:
Save. Now save the image under a new name, in either PNG or JPEG format.
You will be prompted for a few options. Simply accept the default options. (The
GIMP on Windows can choose odd default folders for opening and saving files. Be
sure you are aware of where the file is being saved.)
Import into a word processor document. Open a new word processing
document and add a title. Then insert the image:
- If you're using Word, do this by selecting Insert > Picture > From file.
- If you're using OpenOffice.org, do this by selecting Insert > Picture > From file.
Click on the image and edges will appear around it which can be dragged to
resized the image. Left-click inside the image, and you will be given a pop-up
menu of options to format the image in other ways.Add supplementary materials
such as vocabulary lists, questions, exercises, and activities to your document
You can view the finished result of our project in PDF format
here. If you'd like to work with the actual word processing document, it
here in Word format and
here in OpenOffice.org format.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
- You may use and modify the material for any non-commercial purpose.
- You must credit the UCLA Language Materials Project as the source.
- If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a license identical to this one.