Interview with Fiona Mauchline


Teacher, trainer and materials writer Fiona Mauchline answers The Image Conference Questionnaire.

Your favourite video and image websites:

This is a no-brainer, really J My favourite image site is obviously along with the blog Take a photo and – what else could I say? I tend to use youtube and vimeo for videos of one sort or another.


Your favourite videos to use in class: My teaching style is pretty dogme, so I use whatever crops up in class, or whatever my students ask for. They choose the images, on the whole, or…. Well I talk about all this in my workshop! As for videos, this year we’ve had all sorts, like the Play it, Sam scene from Casablanca and the songs We’ll be together, Someone like you and America from Westside Story – which all worked well, particularly the first and the last one – or Beyoncé’s If I were a boy, which bombed.

Useful image-related teaching tool: These aren’t specifically for teaching, but for fiddling around with images to use them in class, I use Picmonkey, Big Huge Labs’ mosaic maker and the programme Paint, which is part of the Office suite. Not really very flash, me, y’see.


Tell us a bit about your session: We start with a quick look at the power of images (both in our mind and as photos) when it comes to opening up our imagination and creativity reserves, and then we look at ideas using photos taken by the students themselves and ideas using other images, like the myriad of images at ELTpics, and if there’s time, some from coursebooks. It’s mainly about developing creativity and keeping away from students’ ‘private space’ or The Twilight Zone, as I call it. And it’s very much a ‘doing stuff’ sort of workshop, and although there’s no physical handout, folks can email me for an ‘idea-stuffed’ one afterwards, if they want.


Why are you interested in using film / video / images / games in your classes? I use games all the time, but not online games – usually games the students make with A4, with their body or with images. And of course I use images, video and film. It’s the logical thing to do. We’re not a ‘listen to my voice / read these words’ culture anymore – not exclusively at least. Even when I was in primary, we watched schools TV programmes in class, and used pictures and played… it’s part of our learning culture. And play is about learning anyway.

Of course, the official line would be because other media engage kinesthetic and visual learners (the Vs and Ks of the VARK quartet), whilst more traditional means of ‘inputting’ pander to the As and Rs. But it’s not just about input, it’s about drawing out – e-ducate in the pure sense – and people express themselves in different media and different ways too. It’s about varying the stimuli, opening the fan of possibilities rather than closing it.


What should your audience expect to learn? They should get some ideas to take home and use straight away, whatever level, whatever age they teach. And maybe it’ll make some people think about how to look at images slightly differently, images and things around us. Maybe they’ll consider new ways of making lessons pretty learner-centred and personalised, verging on dogme.


What are three words that sum up your session? Um “high energy, participative”. Or “Bring a camera”.


Which other presenter(s) are you looking forward to seeing? Only the ones I’ve already met and the ones I have still to meet.

You can read more about Fiona and her session below.


Take a photo and …

Fiona Mauchline ELT Pics

12.15 – 13.15 Room 11

Picture this: students gazing out the window, imagining themselves after class, talking to friends or fantasising about the weekend. Picture this: students who feel shy or inhibited when talking about themselves, at a loss for words. Picture this: heaps of ideas using photographs either taken by students themselves or from resources like #ELTpics to keep your students in the picture.


Working in ELT for over 25 years, Fiona is a teacher, teacher trainer and materials writer based in Cáceres. She regularly teacher-trains in Spain and other countries, and is the co-author of Interface (for ESO, Macmillan) and Motivate (for Bachillerato, Edelvives). She writes or runs 4 blogs (including macappella and Take a photo and…), and co-curates #Eltpics, a creative commons, crowd-sourced photo resource for teachers.

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