What is Graphic Facilitation (and why is it perfect for ELT)?

So you may have seen my previous blog posts, social media messages or attended one of my training sessions. You might have heard me say ‘I’m a Graphic Facilitator’ or ‘Graphic Facilitation is great for the English Language Classroom.’…. you then might have thought…

Well, Graphic Facilitation is the use of simple, hand-drawn, graphics to
support groups or individuals towards their goals. Traditionally, Graphic
Facilitators use large sheets of paper, flipcharts or whiteboards and markers
to engage participants. Online, Graphic Facilitators can do this using pre-drawn
visuals, a graphics tablet, drawing software or a visualiser.

Some examples of Graphic Facilitation techniques involve using very simple hand-drawn
icons, visual templates, graphic organisers, infographics, mindmaps and
sketchnotes. Having used Graphic Facilitation techniques for a few years now, I
can safely say that they work very well indeed in the language classroom.

Why? Here’s why…

It’s multisensory and aids critical thinking.

Learners can observe the visual, listen and understand its explanation or instructions, analyse
it, apply it, share their interpretations, write about it, or create their own.

It makes things memorable.

In my previous blog posts I’ve written about the drawing effect, which found
that drawing aids vocabulary retention. It also makes pages of notes, resources
and materials more distinct, which in turn makes them more memorable.

Here’s a quick sketchnote I made of Joan Kang Shin’s IATEFL 2021 talk on Visual Literacy.               Wouldn’t you agree it’s more memorable than a page of text?

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It aids understanding.

Adding a quick drawing, asking your learners to draw or using a visual as a concept check is an excellent way to find out if they have understood. 

It’s versatile.

It can be used to teach grammar, vocabulary, reading, writing, speaking,
listening and pronunciation. You can use it to plan out lessons, curriculums or
meeting agendas. I even used it to capture my students’ reflections at the end of term.  This template can be used in in various ways: 

  1. Photocopy it and use a pen or pencil.
  2. Online – share your screen and use annotation tools.
  3. Send them a copy and ask them to use digital drawing tools to complete it. 
  4. Ask them to draw their own. You could ask them to add their own sections (e.g. a cline for digital skills). 

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It’s quick and copyright free.

The visual capture sheet above took about ten minutes to draw. The same
document would probably have taken me about an hour fiddling about with tables in a word document or canva and searching for copyright free stock photos. Granted, it took me a while to learn to draw those icons quickly, but it’s a bit like learning the alphabet; it takes a bit of time but once you know it, you wonder how you ever lived without it.

It is my firm belief that Graphic Facilitation enhances and supports the language learning experience. I’d love ELT practitioners to gain confidence using it…

…so I’m now running online courses! Engaging Learners with Simple Drawings! 

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To find out more, or to read previous blog posts about how I’ve used Graphic Facilitation in my own classroom and training sessions, follow this link: https://emilybrysonelt.com/online-courses/

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