As language educators, it’s happened to all of us at some point in our career. I’m sure you can even picture the last time it happened to you: You’re meeting someone for the first time and they ask “so, what do you do?” After enthusiastically explaining your love for language teaching, your new acquaintance gets that look on their face. You cringe because you know what’s coming next… the dreaded…
Oh, I took [that language] for [x] years! But all I remember how to say is [ridiculous phrase].
If you’re like me, you already have a few witty responses saved up for just such occasions. But what’s not so easy is when the person you’re talking to isn’t a new acquaintance, but rather a parent of one of your students. Although this conversation can become awkward pretty quickly, it is the perfect opportunity to advocate for our programs.
While talk of “proficiency levels” and “comprehensible input” may be too jargony to get our message across, helping parents understand what goes on in our classroom and making sure they have realistic expectations of our programs’ outcomes are great ways to advocate for our programs. The beginning of the school year, especially at events like open house, is a time when many parents interested in finding out this type of information. The problem is, with the many classes their children take, parents are often overwhelmed with the amount of handouts and course guides they receive at the start of the year. That’s why a few years ago, I decided to design something that would stand out visually, be a quick read, and describe my program in parent-friendly language. It was time to give a much-needed makeover to the dated, and quite verbose, parent FAQ open house handout (that, to be honest, I’m not sure the parents ever read). The first step was to replace it with a digital infographic posted on our district foreign language website:
This infographic is general to our district language program, but I also helped individual teachers edit it to include frequently asked questions specific to their school or their own classrooms. In few years I have started to use the infographic, it has been a big success! When parents contact me with questions, it’s great to have a document I can refer to that explains proficiency or (in the case of the infographic I’ve edited for my own class) why I teach using 90%+ target language.
Knowing that many parents in my school still prefer to have a physical handout rather than a digital copy, I’ve since revised the FAQ so it can be printed out and distributed during open house:
How to Get Started Creating Your Own Infographics
I used Canva (a free resource with paid upgrades) to create the above infographics. I find Canva easy to use and love the free inspirational templates and elements available to help create a variety of materials I use to communicate with parents: infographics, flyers, email banners, postcards, and more. Piktochart is another user-friendly infographic maker (free with paid upgrades) that is easy to learn and fun to use.
How do you use Infographics in your classroom?
At this point, it’s probably no surprise that I’m a big fan of using infographics to communicate with parents, but they are perfect for communicating information with students too! There has been some wonderful #langchat conversations on Twitter these past few weeks with teachers sharing some beautiful examples of their infographic-style class syllabus. Check out Wendy’s stunning syllabus from En français, SVP! for an example.
Do you use infographics to communicate with parents or students? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!