The Virtual Picture Album
Compiled and distributed by the Less Commonly Taught Languages Project
Language teachers know how useful drawings and photographs can be as teaching tools. Pictures provide visual support for all kinds of lessons, such as:
- introducing and practicing vocabulary for concepts or objects like 'lightning', 'mountains' and 'elephants' that typically aren't located in the classroom (and can't easily be be brought in);
- depicting situations and events where many things are going on at the same time;
- reinforcing and practicing particular grammatical constructions.
Additionally, pictures can:
- allow an instructor to design a balanced combination of passive and active activities and of group and individual work;
- stimulate students' imaginations and enthusiasm and encourage students' involvement in the course by adding another dimension to the learning skills and strategies students are able to use;
- provide an easy and fun way to introduce a wide array of cultural information to students--for example, to illustrate the kinds of houses people live in, the styles of dress usually worn, typical daily activities they engage in, etc.
While there are innumerable advantages to the use of pictures, it can be difficult and time-consuming to find a variety of pictures that are appropriate to build lessons around. This is particularly true for the LCTL teacher, who often has to work in isolation with limited resources, and therefore has no one with whom to share the effort and expense of such a task. Since one of the goals of the LCTL Project is to encourage the teaching and learning of LCTLs by making resources available on the Internet, we hit upon the idea of creating an extended online photo album or scrapbook which we call the "Virtual Picture Album".
The Virtual Picture Album (or VPA) is a computer archive of digitized photographs and drawings, accompanied by useful descriptions and suggestions for ways to incorporate these pictures into various in-class and out-of-class activities. There is even a small collection of sample exercises using pictures from the VPA, which you can use as is or modify for your own purposes. All of the items in the VPA can be accessed from this website and can be downloaded free of charge for educational purposes.
Organization of the VPA
You can search the VPA by language, topic, or grammar point:
Downloading the pictures
Clicking on any thumbnail will link you to its full-sized counterpart along with a brief description and information about its use or suggested use. You can download the full-sized picture directly from your web browser by holding the cursor down on the photograph until a small options menu pops up, and saving this image onto your own computer.
The pictures are image files of type GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) or JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group), which means that they can easily be used in your own web pages, although they may not be usable in other applications without being reformatted.
Virtual Picture Album Sections:
The LCTL Project would be thrilled to have more pictures, more suggestions and more sample exercises to make available. If you have:
- Photographs or drawings: you can send a digitized version to us via e-mail, or send slides or prints via regular mail--we'll scan them and return them to you as soon as possible. Please include information about the photographer/artist and copyright holder so that we may include the proper attributions with the picture in the VPA.
- Language exercises: If you use pictures from the VPA to create your own lessons and are willing to contribute your lessons to our store of sample exercises, you can send them to us in electronic or paper form. If you can't share the lessons, we'd appreciate at least a description of which pictures you used and what you used them for.
- Suggestions or ideas: If you come up with a great idea for an exercise, a lesson topic, a picture grouping, but don't have the time or tools to develop your idea, please share it with us! You can send your ideas directly to the LCTL Project, or submit them to one of our LCTL listservs.
Items you are willing to contribute to the VPA should be sent to:
Less Commonly Taught Languages Project
140 University International Center
331 17th Avenue SE
Minneapolis, MN 55414
612.624-9016 (voice); 612.624-7514 (fax)
The LCTL project encourages and allows use of any of its teaching material free of charge for educational purposes. This includes the images in the VPA and sound clips in the VAVA, as well as material developed as part of the LCTL project's Minigrant program.
The project would appreciate knowing about its material use and acknowledgement of its source ("Used by permission of the LCTL Project / CARLA / University of Minnesota").
Contact LCTL project coordinator for further information.