In this article, we’re going to talk about one of the most interesting approaches in teaching foreign languages called CLIL. How can we spice up our lessons and connect them with fine arts? Let’s find it out!
Briefly about CLIL
CLIL means Content and Language Integrated Learning.
The term itself appeared in 1994. CLIL is divided into hard CLIL (teaching content through the medium of a foreign language with content objectives at the front) and soft CLIL (teaching content through the medium of a foreign language but with predominantly linguistic objectives). English teachers have to focus on a language by discussing other things that surround us so CLIL is very useful. The main idea here is to teach the language through other subjects, for example, biology.
Read more about CLIL in our blog.
Let’s focus on CLIL through Fine Arts
Art gives us a lot of opportunities to teach a language creatively. Students learn about colours/shades, styles, artists and study English at the same time. Bright pictures attract students and help to hold their attention, and art itself is the best example of thinking outside the box.
How can CLIL through fine arts be useful?
Firstly, students learn new vocabulary (starting from simple colours with kids while learning primary colours or how to mix them up to special terms with adults (e.g.canvas, perspectives). Secondly, they learn the culture by reading artists’ biographies and exploring art around the world. Art has been always connected with religion, philosophy and even politics so it’s a chance for your student to study the history/political issues of the world deeper. Finally, they can develop talents they’ve never thought about. This can be achieved through project/craft works students create and present themselves.
CLIL is possible to adapt both for adults and kids. Find some of the ideas below!
Vocabulary practice through pictures/paintings
It’s great to visualize words while learning English. Imagine you study body parts. What can be better than drawing the body yourself?
— describing paintings
This activity is very useful while practising Spoken English. Even shy students have to describe what they see, so no one will be silent.
Here is an idea to use with kids/teens.
Print this portrait activity. Ask students to portray themselves as they see it (inner-self portrait) and as the society sees them (outer-self portrait). It would be a great team-building for your group.
Studying grammar in context
CLIL Through Fine Arts can also help while teaching grammar. Reading an artist’s biography? Learn past tenses and passive voice. Talking about modern art? Learn Present Continuous. Discussing art’s perspectives? Future Simple comes.
Here is an example of the exercise:
Visit world-famous museums with your students!
If your student prefers modern art, suggest that he/she discuss contemporary exhibitions like this one.
It’s a nice idea to practice speaking skills.
Let your student choose an artwork he/she likes and give a talk about it. It’ll be even better if a student presents his/her own artwork.
You can also use interesting texts and video materials about art with our students.
Artists for kids — bright pictures for those who make the first steps in English and art;
Art with Mati&Dada — a great channel with cartoons about artists .
Kiddle — visual arts facts. There are many pictures and not so many words. It works well with young learners.
Incollect — a collection of articles. You may choose what art to read about: traditional or modern. Materials are full of paintings which makes reading more interesting.
Time is a website where you can find articles about everything starting from Business up to Sports. They also suggest articles about fine arts.
There is plenty of other resources for teaching kids using CLIL:
You can find a couple of lessons based on fine arts in our blog (they are for adults):