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August 2016

Why every picture tells a story

Canadian educator and photographer Steve Pellerine has researched how visual art can affect literacy and language learning, after noticing that his students in Dubai learned English faster when also taught photography.

He has since worked with English language learners in the Middle East and Ethiopia ‘to develop alternative strategies for language and literacy education aimed at assisting migrant and at risk populations’, he told the Gazette. This earned him an invitation to continue his research at both Oxford and Cambridge universities in the UK.

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Courtesy: Steve Pellerine

Pellerine said that the above photo is a particularly significant example of his work, and at the same time a powerful reminder that ‘sometimes our research is not a priority’. He told the Gazette, ‘I was piloting ideas with these Ethiopian women integrating visual arts to help foster literacy development. I had noticed through several activities that the women were unable to carry out many of the tasks. It was not a cognitive deficit – I felt it was a matter of vision. I contacted WGGA eye centre and they agreed to examine my subjects. Ten out of ten of them required visual corrective measures’.

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