The Internet TESL Journal

Using Posters in Content Courses

Michael Furmanovsky (Ryukoku University)
furm [at]
Marc Sheffner (Tezukayama University)
sheffner [at]

Adapted from a poster session which was given at the JALT (Japan Association of English Teaching) Annual Conference in Hiroshima, Japan in November 1996.

Introduction and Rationale for Using Posters

Together with group presentations, posters made by students to help explain a given research topic are among the most effective teaching tools available to those of us who teach classes in which content is a major component. A poster, by our definition, should include graphics and text in about equal proportions, and should be large, colorful and simple. Basically we use posters in our content classes because ...

Brief Summary of Guidelines for Making a Content Poster

  1. Students choose roles. These are
    • Main Researcher-responsible for locating and photocopying information;
    • Poster Designer- responsible for overall design of the poster and
    • Poster-Presentation Organizer- responsible for assigning speaking roles.
  2. The Main Researcher photocopies all information that might be used in the poster and the group members discuss which of these should be used and how.
  3. The Poster Designer makes a rough layout of the poster on A4 size paper.
  4. The Organizer writes any oral explanation that might be neccessary to understand the poster, while the Main Researcher works on a matching or True/False quiz which can be answered by listening to this explanation and looking at the visual information.
  5. Students make the poster together. It should be about 100 X 60 cm. Pictures and charts should easy to read from around two meters. Remind students to bring tacks and other necessary materials.

Detailed Instructions are Given to Students

  1. All members of your poster group should speak during your presentation. However you should divide the work as follows:
    • Student A: Main Researcher
      You are responsible for summarizing the information in the textbook and looking for information that is not in the textbook. (You may use books or magazines written in your native language)
    • Students B (or B and C) : Poster Designer
      You are responsible for designing and making the poster. This might include maps, charts and graphs, pictures, dates etc and a summary of your presentation. You should also include 3-4 matching or True/False quiz questions for the class to answer while listening to your presentation. You should translate any important or difficult vocabulary words into your native language to help your classmates.
    • Student C (or D): Presentation Organizer
      You are responsible for the poster-presentation itself. He or she decides who says what and makes sure that the presentation lasts about 8-10 minutes.
  2. After choosing the three (or four) jobs above, discuss which of the topics listed in the syllabus most interests you. If necessary narrow down the range of your topic. Check in our textbook to see how much information there is on this topic and make a list of questions which you have about the it. Then go to the library together to find more information about this topic. Student A can look for extra information later.
  3. Read all the information that you find in the library or class textbook and ask each other for help in understanding difficult words, expressions or ideas (Do not try to translate all of the information that you photocopy into your native language). Discuss what kind of poster layout and features-columns, graphs, captioned pictures, time lines, etc-would work best. Make sure that your topic is not too big. Make sure that you ask and answer a question in your oral presentation and include this question in your handout
  4. Design the basic outline of your poster and then meet with the teacher and tell him your ideas and ask questions.
  5. Make your poster. Don't forget a big title, your names and student numbers and the quiz.
  6. Practice giving your poster-presentation before your class presentation.

The Internet TESL Journal, Vol. III, No. 1, January 1997