I recently took over some ESOL classes to do an activity of the Power of Visual Communication.
We started off by celebrating the students language skills and talking about the benefits they have of speaking two languages. I then got the students to think about what they would do if they want to a country that did not speak their mother tongue or English. After this we talked about our reading, writing, speaking and listening skills, and students reflected on what other communication skills we use. I gave them the examples of facial expressions, signs, emojis and more...
We then discussed the prompt “Understanding our differences helps us understand each other,” including thinking about how we could share this information visually!
I gave them some examples of the things that are different about Atlanta (where I live), Fontenay-le-Comte (where my mum lives) and London (where I grew up). After this we looked at a visually example, made by someone who was born and raised in China, but now lived in Germany: East Meets West. As we went through this, students talked about the themes, and the differences in their own countries!
After looking through these images and discussing them, I showed them my own version. My own versions were very rough, done with one color, and done on post-it notes. I used this as an example, so they would focus more on the symbols, instead of worrying about being excellent artists. (Once someone told me "never tell student they are going to draw - tell them they are going to 'doodle', then the pressure is off!")
Students spent the rest of the session working on their own images. I walked around, looking at the work, asking questions and making suggestions. The students were all very engaged and enjoyed this activity. At the end students shared our their art-work (students were told they did not have to do this, but every student opted in!) While they presented I wrote up on the board the differences between America, and their home countries. Here they were able to see patterns emerging, that tied their home countries together (for example, lots of people had similarities with public transport and family life in their own countries). At the end we discussed how these similarities and differences help us understand each other (referring back to the prompt "Understanding our differences helps us understand each other").
Here is some of their artwork (remember that the conversation and explanations were what was important/meaningful):
If you want a little more information about the session - below is a video of me talking through what we did! Feel free to make a copy of my presentation and use it with your students.