ESOL: Speaking About Art

The Courtauld is the world’s leading centre for the study of Art History, Conservation and Curating, with its own art gallery, containing world-famous artworks such as Vincent van Gogh’s ‘Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear’. Our research and teaching encompasses all forms of art across a wide range of geographies and cultures. We run a lively programme of workshops for schools and community groups to engage with our university and gallery. 

Vanessa Bell (1879-1961), A Conversation (1913-16), Oil on canvas, 86.6cm x 81.cm, Copyright: © The Samuel Courtauld Trust\1961 Estate of Vanessa Bell, courtesy of Henrietta Garnett

Using Art History to support your ESOL curriculum:

Art history is an exciting interdisciplinary subject. It has crosscurricular links with almost every subject area. These include history, literature, languages, politics, geography, science and maths. 

Art history asks us to look closely at an artwork and discover new things about the society, place and time in which it was created. How do these objects relate to the world around us today, and what can we learn from them?  

Using art history in your classroom will encourage learners to look carefully, ask questions, make connections and work together to articulate thoughts and express opinions.  

Our ESOL programme uses artworks from The Courtauld Gallery Collection as a catalyst for language learning. ESOL learners taking part in our Speaking About Art projects will enjoy a wide range of lively, collaborative activities which will encourage the development of speaking, listening, reading and writing skills. They will also expand learners’ vocabulary and develop their visual analysis skills.  

The most exciting thing about art history is that everyone interprets an artwork differently based on their own perspective and experiences. In looking at art together, we can spark exciting new conversations and learn from one another. Exposure to new artworks, ideas and experiences through lively conversation will build learners’ confidence in presenting ideas and expressing opinions, as well as fostering an enjoyment of arts and culture. 

Please get in touch to find out how you can get involved in future Speaking About Art ESOL projects, by contacting education@courtauld.ac.uk.  

How to use this ESOL Resource Hub:

The following resources have been developed in collaboration with ESOL tutors from New City College, following feedback from a number of ESOL projects, generously funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.  

The resources have been written as a learning toolkit for ESOL tutors working with E1 and E2 level students. Activities can be easily adjusted to suit the level of a variety of learners.   

In each section you will find the following: 

  • A teacher’s page full of information about the activities and how to use them, background on each artwork, suggested extension activities and useful links for further learning 
  • Downloadable student activity sheets which support the development of speaking, listening, reading and writing skills.
  • Downloadable teacher activity sheets to be used alongside listening activities. 

While these resources have been developed to help ESOL students and tutors enjoy speaking about artworks in The Courtauld Collection, you will find the main themes and learning materials relevant to exploring the collections of many other galleries and museums.  

ESOL Resource Hub


Getting Started

Exploring Art history with students can be a fun and rewarding way of enhancing language skills, which can easily be incorporated into your curriculum using the activities found within this resource hub. In this section you will find some simple ac


Activities

Citations