Funny ELT illustrations

I picked up some interesting throw-outs from the British Council library here in Thailand. I’ve been flicking through Teaching Reading Skills in a Foreign Language by Christine Nuttall (1996) this week. It’s clear, well-organised and has lots of practical activities for teachers to help them understand the skills or strategies they are teaching learners. But there’s something else you can’t miss in the book, especially in Chapter 1 – the illustrations.

This is a great illustration of a passive reader (see paragraph below image). For some reason it seems to induce post-nasal drip whenever I see it…

A comparison between texts and a DIY kit. The DIY enthusiast doesn’t seem too happy with his work – he has the same blank expression in both pictures…

This is by far my favourite. Nuttall describes how some readers (i.e. Reader A) have an easy path to the meaning of the text. Others (Reader B), however, face far more difficulties – lack of schematic knowledge, gaps in vocabulary, etc. Yet these learners persist, using every tool at their disposal to break down barriers and access meaning. Or, as the image suggests, they may just attack Reader A as they stroll along smugly.

Any ELT book featuring an image of a bird is onto a winner.

Birdwatching and now puns, I feel like the illustrator and I would get along pretty well. Here’s some bottom(s)-up processing, ha!

It’s not only the first chapter that is full of gems. There’s also this really useful illustration providing measurements for book shelves in your classroom…

Ok, so not all the chapters are that interesting…

Categories: General, materials writing

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6 replies

  1. I found that book really useful, and the illustrations for top-down and bottom-up processing were probably the first time I’d ever understood what they really were. That’s not to say I didn’t also find them pretty entertaining 🙂


  2. Great post and great idea to take a look at textbooks we’ve used over the years!



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