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Working With Images

reviewed by Raquel Rumor, IH Toronto

Ben Goldstein’s Working with Images: A resource book for the language classroom focuses on using images as the central text in the language classroom. The book successfully attempts to address and discuss why images have been traditionally used as accessories to the written text, and have not been exploited to their fullest potential as the central focus in language learning. Mr. Goldstein argues that in today’s world, where our students are inundated with and interested in images, creating them and manipulating them, it is our responsibility as educators to teach our students the how to of analyzing and interpreting the various meanings of images, while at the same time encouraging intercultural awareness. Mr. Goldstein’s interest and expertise on the topic is evident in the persuasive and thought provoking arguments that he presents, as well as the scope of topics and range of activities presented in the work.

Working with Images offers teachers sufficient background history on the use of images and expands to offer an array of activities that place images as the central focus of a lesson. Furthermore, Mr. Goldstein provides guidance on the criteria that teachers should employ when deciding which images can be brought into the classroom and which factors should be kept in mind when doing so. The activities are extremely user friendlier with details on the preparation that is necessary, how the activity could be modified to accommodate students of different levels, ages, abilities and what other images could be used to explore a different language point. Perhaps the most interesting and useful component is the cross referencing that allows teachers to see how they can expand on an activity by referring to another exercise in the book. Working with Images directs teachers to useful sources for acquiring images and resources that will allow teachers to manipulate images and even create their own! Unit activities include describing, interpreting, creating and imaging images. The focus of all of the activities is still images of signs, symbols and icons, advertising and art images.

The book is a comprehensive compilation of practical ideas with an accompanying CD-ROM and extensive additional references. It is an insightful and valuable resource for any teacher’s room or personal library. Teachers at our school that had the opportunity to experiment with some of the activities reported that many of the activities were innovative, worked well as supplementary material to the current curriculum, and could easily be turned into full independent lessons. The material in the book is presented in a fashion that is useful to both experienced and novice teachers alike. Working with Images provides interesting and applicable reading and tasks for ESL teachers working in both the public and private sectors of the industry. Highly recommended.

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