عنوان مقاله [English]
Illustrating for language teaching books is a subcategory of informative illustration. In this research, we reviewed the illustrations of two Farsi language teaching books: the second edition of Let’s Learn Persian 1 and Mina 1. Meanwhile, to evaluate the learning value of an illustration using the proposed model of Clark and Lyons (2011), we randomly selected %25 of pedagogical contents of each book and evaluated communication, psychological and other functions which affect the pedagogical objectives. In Mina, the “representative” and in Let’s Learn Persian the “context representative” are the most frequent functions of communication. Illustrations of both books have numerous failings, including poor representation of lesson goals, unrelated details, ambiguity in the image, poor representation of the content, small images and lack of clarity, some of which cause cognitive overload and basically distort the psychological functions of images. In general, however, the illustrator of Let’s Learn Persian has been more successful; here some creative methods have been used to better represent the content: using the same characters, using two-color and colorful illustrations in one frame to distinguish the main goal from the marginal objectives of the lesson and to distinguish reality from imagination, using ambiguous images to personalize and so on. In this book white spaces, page layout, and the frequency and size of images and content are tailored to the level of the learner, while in Mina the pages are full of multiple images and content, which causes cognitive overload for the learner.
Illustrating for language teaching books is a subcategory of nonfiction illustration. In general, nonfiction illustration is divided into three groups: narrative, informative and naturalistic. Illustrating for language teaching books is considered as info nonfiction illustrating. Illustrating for these books does not have a long history and majority of the books written to date either have no images or almost have unsuited images. For some reason, even the books published in recent decade mostly have used images rather than digital or hand drawings.
In this research, we reviewed the illustrations of two Farsi language teaching books: the second edition of Let’s Learn Persian 1 (Zolfaghari et al., 2017) and Mina 1 (Sahraei et al., 2017a). These books are for adult learners, written for the introductory level, and cover four skills; therefore, their content is similar.
Clark and Lyons (2011) believe the learning value of a graphic depends on three factors: (1) features of graphics, (2) goal of instruction, and (3) learner differences. Features of graphic have three components: (1) surface features, (2) communication functions, and (3) psychological functions. Clark and Lyons (2011) categorize graphic in terms of communication functions into decorative, representative, mnemonic, organizational, relational, transformational, and interpretive. The psychological functions of graphic are: support attention, activate or build prior knowledge, minimize cognitive load, build mental model, support transfer of learning, and support motivation.
In this study, to evaluate the learning value of a graphic using the proposed model of Clark and Lyons (2011), we randomly selected %25 of pedagogical contents of each book and evaluated communication, psychological and other functions which affect the pedagogical objectives.
In Mina the “representative” function is the most frequent one and we found no evidence for organizational and representative functions. In Let’s Learn Persian the “text representative” is the most frequent function of communication, and organizational, relational, transformational and interpretive roles had no examples. These findings reveal that in the elementary language learning books, the “representative” or “text representative” are the major functions of communication.
In Mina, the pedagogical content contains 35 illustrations and practices incorporate 19 illustrations, some of which are used in both lessons and practices. However, in Let’s Learn Persian the illustrations are equally distributed in lessons and practices: 19 in former and 20 in latter. This reveals that in Let’s Learn Persian the use of graphic in lessons and practices is identical, but in Mina using illustrations in lessons is twice as in practices.
Illustrations of Mina have many flaws, including poor presentation of lesson goals, unrelated details, ambiguity in the image, poor representation of the content, small images, lack of clarity, inappropriate perspective, inadequate cultural valuation and negative psychological load. These features prevent the graphics to deliver their psychological functions, including minimizing cognitive load and support attention. For example, the pointless graphic details about unrelated concepts will distort learners’ mind from the main lesson objectives for a while. However, in Let’s Learn Persian the domain and frequency of these problems are limited. Here the technique of using the same characters has been used. For example, the same characters in an image do various activities. This method helps the readers to recognize the characters once and in later instances she just notices the differences; however, in Mina rarely the same characters have been used. In fact, to appreciate the context differences, it is suggested that one character be put in different situations so as to prevent the mixing of the content objective with the character.
Using two color and colorful illustrations in one frame to distinguish the main goal from the marginal objectives of the lesson is another technique used in Let’s Learn Persian. This technique is also used to distinguish reality from imagination; i.e. the character is colorful, but her imaginations are two-colored and placed in a cloud. For personalization, the illustrator shrewdly has used ambiguous image: whenever it is supposed that the learner put herself in a situation, its related graphic is ambiguous. Another technique used in Let’s Learn Persian is combining surrounding and colorful designs, and also combining black and white illustrations with colorful ones. However, the illustrations of this book are not flawless either, and poor representation of the content, inappropriate framing, lack of clarity, unrelatd to the lesson goals and graphics ambiguity are some of its shortcomings which generally causes cognitive overload for the learner.