Helena Mota Lopes Talks about her Session at the Image Conference Lisbon



Helena Mota Lopes is a teacher, trainer and researcher based in Portugal. Here she talks about her session “From reader to writer/illustrator: citizenship in the EFL classroom” at the Image Conference in Lisbon on Saturday 14th October.

Getting young teenagers to read and participate in a book discussion with enthusiasm is quite often a challenge, as well as talking about citizenship in the EFL classroom. As a teacher, I worry not only about the short amount of time devoted to reading, but also about certain citizenship issues and the fact that there is little space to talk about them.

Many schools do not offer Citizenship as a particular subject, which means that all the work must be done by teachers on their specific subjects. That is also the case of the English teacher, who should go beyond the most common topic areas in order to include these issues in the classroom.

The example I bring to The Image Conference is part of a small reading project with some of my students, most of them not interested in reading. In order to motivate them, I chose picture books which I considered to be suitable for this age group. I thought they were interesting enough to promote classroom talk and to further encourage them to write and illustrate their own stories. And I was right. They became readers and then engaged writers and illustrators.

I will present one of the books and I how I used it in the classroom. I will also share some of the students’ work, which shows how powerful these books can be in encouraging them to create something meaningful to them. At the end of the session, on Saturday 14th, I will suggest other interesting picture books and tools that can be explored in the EFL classroom for young teenagers.


Helena Mota Lopes is an EFL teacher in Portuguese state schools. She has also been involved in teacher training. She holds an MA in English Studies and is a PhD student at the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Nova University Lisbon. She is a researcher at CETAPS.


From reader to writer/illustrator: citizenship in the EFL classroom


This talk aims to present an example of how reading picturebooks can motivate young teenagers to become writers and illustrators of their own stories and how discussing and reflecting on citizenship issues portrayed in picturebooks encourages them to engage in meaningful communication and creative self-expression.

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