Body maps

Using this tool really helps to discuss oneself. We build confidence together by talking about what we like and the things we like about ourselves."

Reflect practitioner, Canada 

What makes a Reflect ESOL teacher?Why?  Body maps can be used to learn about and discuss the parts of the body and internal organs, as well as related issues such as health, nutrition and pregnancy. The body map can also be used to discuss abstract qualities; likes, dislikes, skills, emotions and characteristics.

When? Any time.

How?  Draw the outline of a person on a large sheet of paper. A quick way to do this is to ask one of the participants to volunteer to lie down on the floor and draw around them. Depending on the focus of the exercise, participants may then be asked fill in the names of parts of the body or internal organs. This is best done by writing or drawing on bits of card that can be moved around if necessary. Additional cards may then be introduced to to look at issues such as health, nutrition, pregnancy, etc.

If the body map is being used to discuss abstract notions such as qualities, skills or emotions, the participants will need to discuss how to place the cards - there will not necessarily be a correct position. For example, some may feel that a card representing fear would be best placed on the head while others might chose to place it on the stomach.

Examples from Practice:

"We were just starting a unit on health, and I wanted to use the body map to practise body parts . . . The students are all Muslim, so did not want to draw a body, so I just drew an outline. Fortunately they did not mind drawing body parts. Once we got underway it was hard to stop them. I had to keep cutting up more bits of card. We spent maybe half an hour either drawing the body parts or writing out the words and placing them on the outlines. I told them not to worry about spelling & we would work on that later. I was amazed and impressed at how many body parts they knew. At that level students often know far fewer body parts.

 After we finished putting the cards down we went through to compare the two different bodies we had produced, agree placement and drill pronunciation. We also checked spelling, putting accurate spellings on the board for any words misspelled or not written out (but put on the outline as a picture). This was done in a friendly supportive way ('Who knows the spelling?') not a 'Look how many words are WRONG' way, and it went quite well. The students then spent ages practising their spelling, and we ended with a spelling test.

It was a very productive and enjoyable activity. Students who tend to be very quiet and hard to draw out got just as involved as the others. The class is the next level up from absolute beginners, with quite a range of abilities."

ESOL Tutor, Tower Hamlets College, London

If you have an interesting or innovative experience of working with this tool please add your comments here.