Using Infographics to Reinforce Numbers and Cultural Nuances

Infographie facebook en 60 secondesInfographie facebook en 60 secondes (left) by Olivier MORDEFROID is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Infographics, such as the one at left, have been a popular tool in language teachers' bag of tricks for a couple of years now.  They are a great tool for teachers of novice learners because they are so visual.  Lots of icons, cognates, pictures, and numbers help the student more easily decipher the meaning of the text than a simple article.  They're also a great tool for teaching culture since they are authentic resources.

I like to show infographics to students after we have learned the numbers.  They read the numbers out loud and determine what the text is saying.  Some infographics have decimals, which is a great way to teach the difference with the comma in place of a decimal point in French.  Sometimes I ask questions in French that can be answered by looking at the infographic.

Infographics are much less intimidating to a novice student (or any student I suppose) than an article, because they are much more visual.  What's more, they open up the door for critical thinking and cultural discovery.  Hidden in all the "boring" statistics displayed on them are many messages waiting to be discovered by students.  For instance, when we looked at an infographic about pets in France, students learned that cats are in fact more popular dogs (perhaps not a vital piece of knowledge but certainly a little piece of culture to take with them).

Video infographics take the medium to the next level by forcing the viewer to look at information in a certain order and take each bit in one by one.  In the video below, students learned some staggering statistics.  We determined that since 2.3 billion people around the world use the internet and there are about 7 billion people in the world, roughly 1/3 world uses the internet.  Just one third!  Students then came to the conclusion (with some help from their teacher) that even though internet is readily available to most people the US (if not at home then at least at school or in the public library), there are many impoverished parts of the world where few families can afford internet.  We also learned that roughly 1/7th of the world uses Facebook and 1/7th also uses YouTube.


There's no doubt using infographics has the potential to satisfy a number of standards.  For those of you in the U.S., it could easily satisfy ACTFL's Connections, Communication, and Comparisons, as well as a number of Common Core State Standards for ELA/Literacy.  Of course, exactly what standards it satisfies depends on specifically what you have students do with the infographic.

I know I've just touched the tip of the iceberg on how to use infographics in the foreign language classroom.  I'd love to hear how you use them!

For lots of French infographics, visit my Pinterest board.

Facebook 60 sec infographic by Olivier MORDE-FROID

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