The Image Conference: Film, Video, Images and Gaming in English Language Teaching took place at the beautiful art-nouveau Casa Convalescència building in Barcelona on 8th June. The conference, which was jointly organised by the International Association of Teaching English as a Foreign Language Association’s Learning Technologies Special Interest Group and UAB Idiomes, was the first of its kind on the use of media and images in language learning and 120 delegates from throughout Europe and further afield attended.
There were three recurring themes throughout the day. The first was that the proliferation of mobile devices such as digital cameras, mobile phones and tablets, which allow us easily and proficiently to capture moving images, the introduction of inexpensive, accessible and user-friendly editing tools, and at the same time the emergence of distribution sites such as YouTube, Daily Motion or Vimeo have changed the way moving images relate to society, education and language learning forever.
A second dominant theme was the many educational benefits of using moving images in language teaching which include their motivational qualities, as a source of authentic and varied language, the fact that learners often understand much more because the language is interpreted in a full visual context, how film can allow poor readers of printed texts opportunities to access high quality and demanding texts and to use higher order skills, the effectiveness of film at bringing the outside world into the classroom, and providing a framework for communication and discussion. Many speakers also highlighted how the use of different types of images promotes creativity, critical thinking and collaborative learning, and gave practical examples of how this could be exploited in the language classroom.
The third recurring theme throughout the conference was the highlighting of the educational benefits of not just watching moving images inside and outside the classroom, but also of creating moving images, and speakers suggested that schools have been slow to respond to advances in technology. Several speakers looked at innovative ways of integrating moving images into the school system and suggested ways teachers could develop to become successful 21st century educators.