Minnesota and Wisconsin Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages
Teachers of low-literate adult English language learners often use visual materials to teach content, but it is not clear
how these visuals are interpreted by their intended audience. This research focuses on the concept of visual literacy,
specifically, on the ability of low-literate adult ESL learners to identify the functions of graphic devices used in
educational materials. A semiotic framework provides a basis to describe how education and cultural background
can influence visual literacy. Through think-aloud interview sessions, Somali participants of varying L1 literacy
levels interpreted illustrations from ESL materials. Results show lower than expected ability to interpret images and
little difference in visual literacy between L1 literate and L1 non-literate participants. The author suggests that visual
literacy is more dependent on experiential factors than on L1 education. Other findings include participants'
tendency to bring real-world contexts to visuals and to interpret symbolic images as non-symbolic.
Graphic device interpretation by low-literate adult ELLs: do they get the picture?.
Minnesota and Wisconsin Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages.
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