In post-industrial societies, employment and social inclusion depend crucially on the acquisition of basic and soft skills (e.g. home and/or local language literacy, intercultural communication and social abilities). Research shows that low-qualified and low-skilled adults are economically and socially marginalized: they occupy low-wage jobs while their low competence in literacy contributes to low self-esteem. Therefore, the development of new pedagogical tools aiming at promoting basic and soft skills among low-qualified adults and foreign language and culture among migrants is crucial both at the individual level (personal growth) and at the social level (fairer and more equal society).
The Language and literacy learning through art project (LALI) embeds language and literacy learning in cultural education by articulating activities in museums and activities in classrooms. An IT application “Art App” will be developed to support and reinforce the learning that takes place in museums. The quality of the whole process will be assessed through a video-based tool. LALI will evolve furthermore a toolkit to language teachers and trainers to improve their pedagogical skills. Lastly, LALI will offer access to the different products and kits for professionals through this webpage.
LALI addresses the needs and social inclusion of adults with low qualifications and low literacy levels, mostly migrants, who have arrived recently or did not acquire the local language / literacy skills despite a long stay in their new environment. LALI contributes to the possibility of their further learning and employability by proposing pedagogical tools aiming at developing basic skills (language, literacy and to a minor degree digital skills), creating collaborative environments for learning, valorising their particular cultural identities, and using the encounter with art to address what is universally human.
Language and Literacy Learning Through Art
The Language and literacy learning through art (LALI) project embeds language and literacy learning in cultural education by articulating tasks in museums and classrooms. Thus, in addition to classrooms, learning is transferred into a real-world environment, specifically, to a museum that creates stimulating conditions for peer learning. Art (i.e., a central component of culture) therefore becomes a vital resource for fostering social and linguistic integration.
To get an idea of the theoretical and methodological considerations that provide the ground for this undertaking, please have a look at our manual.
This manual is part of the set of different products and kits for professionals that will be available through an online resource centre created by LALI. All contents are considered creative commons. Please, feel free to browse through our webpage, get inspired and if you have questions, don’t hesitate to contact us!
Art Mediation for Language Learning
Building on the methodological and theoretical pillars of our manual, this section offers a set of practical activities to lead in museums and classrooms to develop language, literacy and soft skills for adults with low qualifications.
We provide modules, consisting in preparatory activities in a classroom setting, as well as practical tasks for the museum setting. We also provide ideas for post-visit tasks that can be used to wrap up the experience in the museum.
We’re currently working on the development of these modules. As a preview to the final product, we give you two examples of possible activities:
We present examples of how to use artworks for language and literacy learning according to the LALI approach. The examples are based on two artworks located in the Louvre; the first is Nicolas Poussin’s painting entitled Eliezer and Rebecca(1648), and the second is Angle harp(from the New Kingdom of Ancient Egypt).
This approach comprises three phases. First, in the classroom, the learners familiarise themselves with the vocabulary and the grammatical structures needed to describe the artwork. Second, in the museum, the teacher asks the learners some questions to prompt the discussion and may present them with other (oral) tasks. Third, the follow-up session is held in the classroom.
Eliezer and Rebecca
1) Preparation in the classroom
Examples of the vocabulary discussed in the classroom include:
nouns related to the painting (e.g., male/female, vases, birds, wells, buildings),
verbs related to the painting (e.g., standing, talking, watching, pouring, gazing, thinking, showing),
adjectives related to the painting (especially colours and emotions) and
adverbs of place (e.g., in the middle of, in front of, to the right/left of).
2) Tasks in the museum
Preparation. Take your time to examine the picture. Observe the people and what they are doing. Look at the landscape and the surroundings. Are there some details that you especially like?
a) Discuss with your partner or in small groups. What kinds of clothes are the people wearing? What are the people doing? What are the surroundings like? Where is the scene set (which continent/country and city/village/countryside)? What hour of the day/which season is depicted? Does the scene take place in modern or ancient times? (oral skills)
b) What did the teacher/facilitator say about the painting? (listening skills)
c) “Who am I?” Choose one of the persons and think about who this could be. You can give the person a name, a profession or a characteristic. If you want, write a note. Then, one after another, imitate the pose of the person in the picture. What could this person say? Say one or two sentences (no questions or comments in between!). The others try to guess the character. Next, in the group, discuss the following: Who was the person? What did the person do and say? If there is time left, you can play more with these personas (using oral, listening and interactive skills) by performing the following activities:
If the participants chose different characters: try to group them as portrayed in the picture, and let them repeat their sentences. Does everything make sense? Do they fit together?
If the participants chose the same characters: What different sentences did they say?
Out of these games, we already have a lot of suggestions and interpretations about the story. Try to develop it further as a group: What would be the next scene? Who comes or goes; what happens next? Alternatively, what happened before?
d) Create a dialogue between two characters in the painting. (oral + listening skills)
e) In groups of 3–4 participants each, invent together the story (or a story) that we see. Share it within the group (oral + listening skills). Share the story represented in the picture, and then discuss whether in the art traditions of the participants, this would be a typical story to represent.
Finally, explore the art form. Is it typical? In what ways does it differ from art representations in your own traditions? (cultural competence
f) Explore non-verbal communication. Observe the painting and the people portrayed in it. Select some characters in interaction. What do their physical positions and gestures tell us about their relationships? What may they be communicating with each other? Let us pick up, repeat and explore the gestures with our own bodies. What do these gestures mean in our own cultures? Alternatively, everyone can show the gesture/mimicry that in their culture would convey a specific intention or emotion (cultural and interactive competence).
3)Follow-up activity in the classroom
Create a written dialogue based on task d) started in the museum. Read it to the others.
Write a story based on task e) started in the museum. Read it to the others.
In the classroom, some vocabulary related to the object, especially verbs (what can be done with the object) and nouns (different materials), is discussed.
Tasks in the museum
Preparation. Here is an object; take some time to observe and explore it.
a) Discuss with your partner or in small groups (oral + listening skills):
What is the object? If you do not know it, use your imagination. What could it be?
Do you know something similar? Does it remind you of something?
Does the object have a specific function or use? If so, what is it/what are they? Try to imagine as many different uses/functions as possible. What would you do with the object?
What was the original use of the object? Where and when was it produced? Who made it?
Who was the owner? Where was it placed? Was the owner rich or poor (give arguments for the answer)?
When and at what kinds of events could the ancient Egyptians have played music?
b) Invent the story. (oral + listening skills)
After discussing the answers to the questions, agree on one story within your small group. Use your imagination for all the details you would not know, for example, the name of the owner, the price it was sold for, and so on. Write the story in 5–10 sentences. Everyone in your group should write at least one sentence!
Find another group, and present your story. Next, listen to the story of the other group.
Everybody comes together and forms a large circle. The groups share their experiences. Are there similarities in the stories, or are they very different?
Extra: What was easy and what was difficult to fulfil? Ask the participants for their quick feedback and impressions.
c) Questions for a musician
Create an imaginary conversation. What question would you ask an ancient Egyptian or an ancient Egyptian musician?
3)Follow-up activity in the classroom
Does such an instrument exist in your cultural traditions? When is it used?
Let us listen to five samples of harp music from different cultures. To which one would we connect the sound of this object?
What are your culture’s traditions concerning music? Traditionally, when is music listened to in your community and in what contexts?
Write a story based on task b) started in the museum. Read it to the others.
The complete set of activities will be available soon. If you already have questions or comments, please feel free to contact us! We are curious to hear your opinions.
In the framework of the LALI project, an innovative mobile application will be developed. It will help the user to prepare for the visits to museums (pre-visit activities) and to reinforce the acquired new knowledge and the experiences (post-visit activities).
We are currently in the phase of development. More information will come soon!
Are you curious of what this App will look like? Do you have ideas? Just get in touch!
Focus on Trainer’s Skills
To test the impact of our trainings and evaluate the proposed tasks, a video assessment methodology will be developed. A toolkit of self-development for language teachers and trainers involved with heterogeneous groups of adult learners with low educational level will be provided.
As we are just at the beginning of our journey, this undertaking will take some time. Please be patient. First outcomes will be published here until June 2020!
LALI will offer access to different products and kits for professionals developed in course of the project. The materials include activities in museums, activities in classrooms, an IT application “Art App”, as well as a toolkit for language teachers and trainers.
Methodological and theoretical background and curriculum: A collection of theoretical input, detailed methodology description and resources that allows us to create a new methodology combining art mediation, learning of foreign language and improvement of soft skills for adults with low qualifications.
Compendium of activities to develop language and literacy through art: Building on the methodological and theoretical pillars, this output offers a set of practical activities to lead in museums and classrooms to develop language, literacy and soft skills for adults with low qualifications.
“Art App”, an IT application: In the framework of the project, an innovative mobile application will be developed. It will help the user to prepare for the visits to museums (pre-visit activities) and to reinforce the acquired new knowledge and the experiences (post-visit activities).
Qualitative video assessment methodology: To test the impact of our trainings and evaluate the proposed tasks, a video assessment methodology will be developed.
Toolkit to focus on trainers’ skills and posture: A toolkit of self-development for language teachers and trainers involved with heterogeneous groups of adult learners with low educational level.
The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.