CCI Student Focus: Kyle Roerink Teaches ESL with Photography

By Nicole Gennarelli

            Kyle Roerink will be using photography to teach English to students in underprivileged schools in Chile.

Kids, Cameras and Chile from Kyle Roerink on Vimeo.

          

            Roerink, ’10, majored in magazine journalism with a minor in photography. He knew he wanted to travel overseas when he wrote a story for The Daily Kent Stater on former Kent State students who also traveled to Chile to teach students English.

            Roerink is encouraging people to donate used digital cameras for him to use as a teaching tool with his students.

            “If people donate cameras, they’re donating a cerebral experience to my students,” Roerink said. “I will be doing a lot of blogging and photographing throughout the whole experience. This is not only an opportunity for me to help less fortunate; it is an opportunity to spread the joy of photography and writing.”

            For example, Roerink will be teaching his students the basic kitchen appliances and phrases. By taking pictures of them, the students will essentially be making flashcards with the camera.

            “Not only will we have class time to discuss the things around the kitchen, but then I will give them a camera and tell them to go photograph it,” he said. “This gives the kids what people in the TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) field call a kinesthetic process to work with. The taking of the picture gives the students an opportunity to truly synthesize the material. Plus, it can be a way for them to document their lives. I am going to want to see faces and actions in these photos, not just forks and knives, if you know what I mean.”

            Roerink said that people like Wendy Ewald, an American photographer and educator who uses the camera to help educate children, have been teaching literacy through photography for many years.

            “Right now, photographers are working with practitioners in Sociology and other areas of academia to write a scholarship on behalf of their efforts,” Roerink said. “And what a lot of this scholarship says is that giving kids cameras to teach English works because it puts the focus to learn on the children. My students are going to learn a lot about English and themselves. That’s why I want to teach this way.”

Nicole Gennarelli is a junior public relations major and marketing assistant in the Dean’s Office of the College of Communication and Information.

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