Published 14th March 2017
Taking a step back from the coursebook and doing something a little out of the ordinary in our EFL lessons is always a good idea but can often seem like more trouble than it’s worth – especially for us teachers! Add to the preparation the fact that students may not enjoy the activity that you spent so long planning and the nagging feeling that it isn’t an effective use of classroom time and it’s no wonder many EFL teachers prefer to stick to the coursebook, predictable as it may be.
But, if done appropriately, there is no reason you shouldn’t close your coursebook and spice things up a bit in the classroom. There is no reason to limit language learning to the content of the coursebook and there are ways you can supplement the material you already have, so there’s no need to do this from scratch. There are many topics which lend themselves to out-of-the-ordinary activities, and art is one especially well-suited for this purpose.
Sounds like a lot of work, you say?
Well, not really. Here are three easy, no-mess, no-fuss ways of utilising art in your EFL lessons.
1. Discussion of art
* Show students a wide range of art – impressionist paintings, sculptures, iPad art and graffiti, for example. Students discuss their preferences, using language of preference, opinion and comparison.
* Show students a number of artworks by the same artist. The students do an activity based on a biography of the artist’s life, focussing on question formation, language of comparison or time clauses.
* Present the students with a number of different works of art. Students work in groups and decide which they would utilise for an art exhibition.
2. Getting creative
* Students recreate a masterpiece without seeing the original. In pairs, one student is given a painting and gives instructions to the other student so he or she can draw it. Afterwards they compare it to the original.
* Students choose an artist and do research on his or her life and work and give a presentation to the class.
* Students work in groups to create their own work of art, based on pieces they have discussed. They choose the era, the artistic style and the theme.
3. Going outside the classroom
* Students take a guided tour of a local art gallery. The students can prepare by creating a set of questions they can ask on the tour.
* Students attend a local art exhibition. While they browse the exhibition they fill in a questionnaire.
* Students visit a local art school and interview an artist. Research is done beforehand so that the students can ask appropriate questions.
Using art in the classroom can seem like a hassle but with these simple ideas it no longer needs to be stressful for the teacher. Given the fact that we are living in an increasingly visual world, it is not surprising that images appeal to our students and can improve out lessons. Art is a great way to include visual aspects into your EFL lessons and ensure your students stay motivated and interested in your lessons.