Conference Workshop (June 2021) | “I See What You Mean”: Training teachers to become competent visual teachers in the Arabic classroom

BATA Inaugural International Conference

  • Date: 24 & 25 June 2021
  • Location: Online
  • Organiser: The British Association of Teachers of Arabic (BATA) and the University of Leeds

Title of the Workshop        

  • “I See What You Mean”: Training teachers to become competent in visual teachers in the Arabic classroom

Key words      

  • Visual teaching, visual literacy, visual-rich technologies, eLearning, teacher training


  • Curriculum design and development
  • Teaching Arabic and professional development
  • Technology-based e-learning Arabic

Presentation Abstract

 We live in a world, where we became predominantly visual communicators (and teachers) and where the wise Henrik Ibsen said: “A thousand words leave not the same deep impression as does a single deed.” which then was changed by Tess Flanders to “A picture is worth a thousand words’ applies more than ever. This is equally true for Arabic learners and teachers who are submerged in visual imagery such as images, videos, emojis, avatar, infographics and other visual aids.

Visual aids have proven to be a popular teaching aid, allowing teachers and students alike ample opportunities to express their creativity in creating teacher- and student-generated resources.

This paper aims to explore the power, impact and educational benefits of visual learning and teaching from both the practitioner and student’s perspective. The paper will highlight the latest research findings and share personal reflections of many years of experimentation with visual teaching of the Arabic language and culture at the University of Edinburgh, including lessons learnt from training MFL & Arabic teachers to embrace visual teaching in their practice.

The presentation will cover discussions, namely around: 

  • How visual aids can be utilised effectively to maximise the teaching of productive and receptive language skills, vocab-building, grammar understanding, pronunciation and culture awareness, particularly relevant to the Arabic learner.
  • To examine the potential possibilities and educational value of visual imagery, digital photography, virtual realia and visual-rich technologies available.
  • To put a call to aspiring and experienced teachers to tap into the power and impact of this relatively poorly understood and utilised field (Maley, A., Keddie, J 2009) but mostly taken-for-granted and overlooked area that could positively impact teacher’s practice and learner engagement.
  • To put a case forward to teachers to rethink their material development rationale and how to shift away from static and unengaging text-based content/curricula to visually-rich and image-enhanced resource design.

Finally, the paper will introduce a number of tried-and-tested ideas and recommendations that are innovative, practical and easy to implement within and outside the Arabic classroom