Visual aids and visual imaging  - what's the difference?

Visual aids are tools such as Lego blocks, pictures, plastic letter shapes which are used to help a child grasp a concept or put together the letters of a word correctly. Children can handle or look at these visual aids and work out where to put the pieces for the best outcome.

Visual imaging is using the inner regions of the brain to create an inner picture or movie. This picture or movie can be in colour or black and white. It can be still or moving. Perhaps it has a frame. The occipital region of the brain is involved in visual imaging and while two people may be working from the same source to create their internal image - e.g. they may both hear the word 'dog' - they could easily have quite different inner images. One may create a bigger than life-size image of a large dog that looks very menacing. the other person might have an image of a smaller dog with big eyes and a paw extended in friendship. 

Both images are 'correct' for the word dog and they will be linked to the experiences and beliefs these people have about dogs. The use of visual images assists readers in acquiring vocabulary and comprehending text.

Research has shown that use of visual imaging alongside verbal text increases long-term retention of words for readers. Cohen and Johnson (2011) refer to earlier researchers Gambrell, and Pressley, who found that children taught to construct mental images during their classroom literacy lessons boosted their abilities to predict, infer and remember what was read.

When teachers offer opportunities for children to question, comment and interact before, during and after storybook reading, they promote engaged reading. Role-play, re-telling and reconceptualising stories leads to stronger comprehension and recall. Music, pictures and re-writing the stories enables children to integrate information from the story with their own understandings (Uchiyama, 2011), using their preferred way of imaging ( not all imaging is visual).

I  continue to seek opportunities to provide PLD courses and workshops in practical Neuro Linguistic Programming classroom skills for teachers. I will work with teachers using drama, and metaphor to enhance their literacy programmes. I promote linguistic and non-linguistic activities and skills for students to make fuller use of their brains to engage more fully and memorably with books and texts. 

References:-Cohen, M. T., & Johnson, H. L. (2011). Improving the Acquisition of Novel Vocabulary Through the Use of Imagery Interventions. Early Childhood Education Journal38(5), 357–366. doi:10.1007/s10643-010-0408-y

Uchiyama, T. (2011). Reading Versus Telling of Stories in the Development of English Vocabulary and Comprehension in Young Second Language Learners. Reading Improvement48(4), 168–178. Retrieved from

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