The third page of Emma Symanski’s new book, Teaching English Through A Photographic Lens, reads, “This book is dedicated to English Language Learners”.

Emma Symanski graduated from Hampshire College in 2020 with a BA in Photography and Spanish. During her time in school, she also received the World Learning’s SIT TESOL Certificate from the International Language Institute of Massachusetts.

For her Division III independent study project at Hampshire College, Emma Symanski designed and taught a class for English Language Learners using photography as the main teaching tool.

Faced with the realities of the pandemic, Emma’s Hampshire College Division III project, originally planned to be a 10-week course followed by a gallery show, had to pivot. Emma wasn’t able to teach the last two sessions of her course and out of her re-imagination for the final result, came this book.

The project is marked by a deep understanding Emma was able to gain through the interviews and stunning photographs she took of English Language Learners she was working with.

Through Emma’s work towards a curriculum that delves deep below the surface and her personal interactions with the English Language Learners she creates a sense of understanding between a teacher and a student. Teaching English Through a Photographic Lens is a story about how art and language can unify a community while still allowing differences to be celebrated. She credits her community and the students involved in this project to what led to this finished product.

When it comes to the project, Emma’s students had great things to say about this experience.

More than photography, I learned many interesting things. Emma is a great woman, photographer, and teacher, who with just one photo may transmit all her beautiful energy and wisdom to you.” Annie Castaño

“I learned a lot about photography vocabulary and different photography types and styles, which allowed me to discover what my favorite styles are. It was super fun to print pictures in the lab at Hampshire college and learn about Photoshop. I appreciate the practical activities that we did. Since the classes, I know more about what is essential at the time of taking pictures, how I can develop different styles, and the ways that other people understand photography.” Lilian Araya Ortiz

Congratulations Emma, we are so proud of your work and we are thrilled to have worked with you!

To support Emma’s work as well as read more about her approach and the work of her students, you can purchase her book for yourself.

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