Art

“I paint flowers so they will not die.”

Frida Kahlo (1907 – 1954), Mexican artist
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LESSON OVERVIEW

This free ESL lesson plan on art has been designed for adults and young adults at an intermediate (B1/B2) to advanced (C1/C2) level and should last around 45 to 60 minutes for one student.

Art has existed since the dawn of mankind with simple cave paintings depicting a way of life. Art has helped society cope with difficult times through history and has given hope and inspiration to countless people. Yet for many, art remains a bit of a mystery, pretentious even when the understanding is lost. In this ESL lesson plan on art, students will have the opportunity to discuss and express their opinions on issues such as their art preferences, museums and the purpose of art.

This lesson plan could also be used with your students to debate these issues for World Art Day, which takes place in April. For more lesson plans on international days and important holidays, see the calendar of world days to plan your classes for these special occasions.

For advice on how to use this English lesson plan and other lesson plans on this site, see the guide for ESL teachers.

PRE-CLASS ACTIVITIES

Reading activity
Before the English class, send the following article to the students and ask them to read it while making a list of any new vocabulary or phrases they find (explain any the students don’t understand in the class):

GQ | “A gentleman’s guide to modern art”

The article talks about the language people use when describing art so that even the most uninitiated can talk about it. Find some examples of modern art like what was described in the article and ask the students to ask questions about it or describe it based on the vocabulary in the article.

Video activity
To save time in class for the conversation activities, the English teacher can ask the students to watch the video below and answer the listening questions in Section 3 of the lesson plan at home. There are intermediate listening questions and advanced listening questions so teachers can decide which would be more appropriate for their students. Check the answers in the class.

The video for this class is called “What is art for?” by the School of Life and offers five different purposes for art including to give us hope, to reassure us, to act as a counterbalance for what is missing in our lives, to glamorise the ordinary and to act as propaganda fro what is truly important.

IN-CLASS ACTIVITIES

The focus in the class is on conversation in order to help improve students’ fluency and confidence when speaking in English as well as boosting their vocabulary.

This lesson opens with a short discussion about the article the students read before the class. Next, the students can give their opinion on the quote at the beginning of the lesson plan – what they think the quote means and if they agree with it. This is followed by an initial discussion on the topic including how interested the students are in art, their favourite pieces of art or favourite artists and their experiences visiting museums.

After this, students will learn some vocabulary connected with art such as painting, portrait and abstract. The vocabulary is accompanied by a cloze activity and a speaking activity to test the students’ comprehension of these words.

If the students didn’t watch the video before the class, they can watch it after the vocabulary section and answer the listening questions. Before checking the answers, ask the students to give a brief summary of the video and what they thought about the content.

Finally, there is a more in-depth conversation about art. In this speaking activity, students will talk about issues such as the meaning of art and how it makes them feel, whether or not modern art is real art and why some works of art can sell for millions.

HOMEWORK

After the class, students will write about their favourite piece of art. This could be a short paragraph or a longer piece of writing depending on what level the student is at. The writing activity is designed to allow students to practise and improve their grammar with the feedback from their teacher. For students who intend to take an international English exam such as IELTS or TOEFL, there is an alternative essay question to practise their essay-writing skills.

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