The teacher creates a presentation or a mini-lesson that focuses on either content knowledge (e.g., electricity, the life of Cesar Chavez), a theme designed to build vocabulary, a strategy or a language point (e.g., question formation in English). Slides containing visual information are created and supplemented with slides that contain visual information plus text and eventually just text alone. 

The slides are used to set the context, focus students’ attention and pace the class. Students are encouraged to work individually or in teams to create their own PowerPoint presentations to teach others. PowerPoint lessons allow teachers to create and store images and text permanently, allowing for easy retrieval, modification, and update. (If computers and digital projectors are not available, projection transparencies can be created from drawings or collages.)

Compelling images help create a picture in students' minds. They connect visual information with text and activate prior knowledge. Images enrich background knowledge in ways that are not dependent on print. Students are asked to respond to visuals with a series of question prompts, memory pegs, or the use of diagrams to show relationships. 


English language learners with limited English have difficulty understanding information provided primarily orally or in writing. PowerPoint presentations, however, allow students to access information or concepts without getting mired in print. Images and graphs represent ideas that the teacher can make accessible to students through interactive discussions or a mini-lesson. Images allow struggling readers to access information without having to read text and help to both activate and enrich background knowledge. When images are connected to concepts or to text, they act as “memory pegs,” and become anchored in the brain.

What to Do

1.Show a PowerPoint (or overhead projection) presentation using only visual information. Keep your slides simple and related to one another.

2.Describe what is on each slide using simple vocabulary, emphasizing, if possible, English cognates of similar words the native language.

3.Repeat images for key words on subsequent slides.

4.Ask the students to repeat key words on the slides from time to time.

5.After exposing students to the slides initially, encourage them to say key words without your saying them.

6.Only after working with students using only pictures and oral input, show the same or similar slides with text showing the key words.

Keep in Mind

For lower level ESL students it is important to keep the information interactive since they may only be able to take in a few sentences at a time.  As you present, ask students to use their Signal Cards to indicated if they have understood or need you to slow down.  Ask questions to check for comprehension  after a few sentences  inviting students to signal True or False after a particular statement (Houston is the capital of Texas).

Involve students in various forms of retelling (putting prints of PP slides in order; using Event Maps to talk about Who, what where and why or Story Boards to show sequencing.

Ask students to create their own presentations using either PowerPoints or Posters with graphics and pictures to provide information.  Encourage team and pair work and offer opportunities for students to present their projects to a wider audience (other classes, program staff; the wider community)