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Teaching Aids

By Ashraf Al Shafaki


A whiteboard is the most popular teaching aid used in today's classrooms. Whiteboards can be used by the trainer to write down points as he or she explains. A whiteboard can prove to be quite handy when a trainer wants to use drawing as a means of explaining concepts and relationships.  A whiteboard can also be used by trainees to answer questions posed by the trainer.

A whiteboard is one of the tools an instructor can use to his or her benefit. If used properly.

As I rely on sound more than vision as a way of accruing knowledge, I tend to overuse voice as an instructional tool. This is against the multimedia approach to delivering training and hampers the ability of some or many students in acquiring knowledge and making full use of the training. Those who are unlike me and are visual learners exert great effort to follow up with me and might get lost all together. A better approach would be to alternate between both voice and visual methods for communicating content to students. This way, those who are visually oriented will benefit from your visual approach and also those who are verbally oriented will welcome visual tools as an additional means to reinforce the learning they already get from the sound channels.

One of the visual tools at an instructor’s disposal is the whiteboard (or blackboard). I usually seldom used it during class and relied mostly on verbal communication, which happened to be counterproductive to some students in class. Recently, I have discovered one good use of the whiteboard during delivery of an English language course to adults.

The basic idea is that we use the whiteboard to draw relationships between characters in a comprehension passage. We use stick diagrams to draw the characters. A male is drawn with no hair (yeh, funny), while a female character is drawn will a lot of hair coming out of her otherwise plain head (which is basically represented by a mere empty circle). Then lines join characters together with the name of the relationship between those two characters written above the connecting line. The name of the character itself, as it appear in the text, is written under the representative sketch of this character. If a character has kids they are drawn below it, also with connecting lines. If the age of a character is mentioned in the text it is also written next to it on the white board. Additional information about each character as appearing in the text can also be optionally added and written next to the character stick diagram on the whiteboard. This method helps visualize the whole situation and not get lost specially when their are many characters in the text with more complex relationships between them. Now the text can be easily answered.

Last time we used this method a pet cat and a pet dog were also mentioned. I found the student also drawing these on the whiteboard below the stick diagrams of the kids in the family. Though the pets were technically not part of the family, yet putting them on the whiteboard like that helped visualize the text and made answering questions on it easier.

This method not only helps during class for making them better understand the text underhand and better answer it’s questions, but practicing this way sort of builds in their minds language elements such as vocabulary for different relationships and it also helps them understand situations and texts in the future by visualizing them in their minds even if they do not actually use a whiteboard or pen and paper to draw them.

Flip Chart

A flip chart is good for writing material you want to be available later on. For instance, say you are delivering the same training sessions for more than one group of trainees. You may use a flip chart to write for one group then use the same flip chart sheets for the other group of trainees without having to rewrite on the flip charts again for the other group(s). Another example for when flip chart would turn out to be handy is when writing down trainee expectations at the start of a training course then retrieving that flip chart sheet once again at the end of the training course to compare initial trainee expectations with what was actually achieved during the training.

Flip charts can also be used in other creative ways. For instance, flip chart sheets can be torn off by trainees allowing them to carry out various group activities such as their own presentations on a topic provided by the trainer then presenting it the the rest of the class.


A video projector or data show is a popular tool used in presentations. Training sessions often use a video projector attached to a laptop to show PowerPoint presentations. A trainer can use a projector to display presentation slides while elaborating on the points mentioned in the slides. Although such a visual presentation can be engaging yet it can be more suited for a one way lecture rather than an interactive workshop. For tips on delivering a presentation check out the page about presentation skills.