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Profesorado de Inglés

Inglés para los Lenguajes


Docente: Prof. Marianela Cabral



Welcome to our second unit!

In this unit, we are going to discuss the use of art as a didactic resource in
our English lessons. We will explore visual resources and the usual use English
teachers make of them. Finally, we will be dealing with artistic ways of using
different resources in our EFL lessons.

Venus de Milo – Alexandros of Antioch
Louvre - Paris

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Lesson 1 - Introduction
Creativity takes courage. - Henri Matisse

A didactic resource is, according to Conde (2006) any material that has been
created with the intention of facilitating the teaching-learning process. These
resources are the ones that are used strictly in educational contexts. So, for
example, a novel read for pleasure is not considered a didactic resource,
whereas if it is used as material for the Literature lesson it will certainly be
considered so.

According to the author, didactic resources have six main functions. They …

1. Provide information to the learners

2. Guide the learning process (such as organizing the information)

3. Help to exercise and develop skills and abilities

4. Generate motivation, create interest in the content and encourage


5. Allow for evaluation of the students´ knowledge

6. Create a context for the students to express themselves.

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As it can be seen, didactic resources are mediators in the learning process.
You are already acquainted with the concept of mediation and there is no
need to explore it further here. But it is important to remember that
mediation is a necessary and essential element in the teaching-learning
process. Thus, the quality and type of mediation will influence this process in
a significant way.

There are several classifications of Didactic Resources, according to the
views of the different authors. One that is useful for this subject is based on
the interactive media used (Ecured,2017).

 Personal: involves “all the influential relationships of the educational
context that affect the teaching-learning process”. For instance, the
teacher-student relationship.

 Material: refers to “all the industrial or hand-made artifacts or events
which, depending on their interactive platform, can be printed,
audiovisual or IT ones.”

 PRINTED: any printed material – books, magazines, newspapers, etc.
 AUDIOVISUAL: films, TV shows, music, documentaries, etc.
 I T: video, multimedia, video presentations, etc.

This classification of didactic resources is helpful for understanding that any
form of Art can be used as a didactic resource in our classrooms.

 Conde, Cristina, “¿Qué es un Recurso Didáctico?“, 2006, publicado en ,
 Ecured, “Recursos Didácticos”, publicado en

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Let´s reflect…

 Have you ever used any form of Art as a medium to aid the teaching-
learning process?

For instance, have your ever taken some props and prepared an activity that
involved students in role-playing a scene? This is connected to Drama, we are
using a dramatic resource as a teaching aid.

Can you think of all the forms of Art that you have used or that you currently
use in your lessons?

(If you are not teaching yet you can think of all the ones that you can use as


Forum 2 A.

Share your answers to this question in the forum. You can include
examples and visuals.

 Can you think of several forms of Art that you have used or that you
currently use in your lessons? How do you use them?

(If you are not teaching yet you can think of all the ones that you can use as a
didactic resource.)


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As you may have already realised, we use lots of artistic resources in our
lessons, but we somehow forget about their artistic nature. They have
become regular didactic resources for the ELT lessons and we forget that they
have further potential.

In this unit we will try to look at them from a different perspective, trying to
bring to the foreground their artistic power.

Art has the property of being versatile. It also allows strong emotions and
feelings to be channelled. Generally speaking, students that challenge us
because of their behaviour or reactions are easily engaged in a lesson
involving some art form.

Art can be a very unique didactic resource, and in this unit we want to
emphasize this notion. We will look into the usual ways art forms are included
in the ELT course books and we will look into original and creative ways of
using art as a didactic resource. For this purpose, we are going to make a
difference between art and Art.

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Art or art?

Art (with a capital letter) will refer here to Art in the usual sense, Art as the
main purpose of the lesson (such as a Music lesson), Art in itself or Art as an
abstract notion; whereas art (with lower case) will be used to refer to art as
a didactic resource within a class or an activity.

Now, let`s start by looking deeper into this notion.

Lesson 2 – Art as a Didactic Resource

“The role of the artist is to ask questions, not answer them.” ― Anton Chekhov

In the usual EFL lessons, in course books and in ELT materials we can find
several didactic resources that use visuals and other art forms. In English
classes there is a tendency to include lots of materials that involve some kind
of art. For example, visual didactic resources are the usual ones. These are
pictures of any kind (photographs, drawings, paintings). We can also find
audiovisual material in the form of videos, films, and multimedia in general.
Musical resources are also included, containing mainly songs and chants.

The way all these resources are used in EFL lessons is well known and you
have already seen them in several subjects. For example, if you take any EFL

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course book you will easily find activities that include the use of visuals,
audio, and other similar resources.

To illustrate this, take for example this page from NEW HEADWAY Pre-
intermediate (Liz and John Soars). You see this in the first unit, page 8. In the
following link you can have access to the whole book.

What visual elements can you see?

The answer is quite obvious. We can easily see that there are 3 photographs
of different people in different situations. The first two pictures are providing
a context for the questions that students should answer about themselves, but
are not directly referred to. And the last one shows the main character of the
speaking activity, the postwoman, with the aim of providing a real context for
the students to have as a reference.

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We can do the same with all the other pages and we will see that the use of
visuals is similar. So, the main question that should be asked is:

How are these resources used?

 Which are the activities that are designed with these images?
 Are these images used as a complement, as a decoration, as a layout or
organizing element?

I am sure that if you take any EFL course book you will find a similar layout
and similar activities. So, the question that will guide us from now onwards

 Are these visuals used as an artistic resource? Or are they devoid of
their artistic nature?

“Being devoid of their artistic nature” means that their identity as artistic
material has been shadowed by their practical use and lies in the background,
not being noticed or used.

For instance, using pictures as a pre-reading or a pre-listening activity is a
standard task that aims at setting the context and sometimes activating prior

Using images as an answer to a listening task is a usual way of response in
language learning, especially for young learners, but not restricted to them
(in technical areas images are widely used, for example).

The following is an example of a part of the Listening paper of the Cambridge
Young Learners Exam Starters, aimed at students aged 6 to 8.

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 Can you think of different activities that require visual resources and
that are part of our lessons?

The list may be quite long, as there are lots of activities that use visual
images as the main didactic resource. In fact, almost all of the tasks that are
used in teaching EFL include some sort of visual, regardless
of the age and level of the students.

Below you can find three activities involving visual images
that are included in Penny Ur´s book, “Grammar Practice
Activities”, CUP.

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SILHOUETTES (p.250-252)

Use of the present progressive to describe action-in-progress, mainly in the
interrogative; oral brainstorming.

Materials: a series of silhouettes showing people in the process of some action, usually
holding or standing by some object or instrument. These may be made easily by
sticking magazine pictures of suitable figures on black paper, then cutting out. The
resulting silhouette may then be displayed against a background of white paper or a
Procedure: present the first silhouette and invite students to guess what sort of person
it is and what he or she is doing.
Is he holding something?
Is he holding a musical instrument?
They may need some new vocabulary; supply as needed.
Variations: You can put up several silhouettes at once, numbering them, and ask
students to guess whichever one they like. This means that when they despair of, or
get fed up with, one of them they can move on to one of the others. This tends to
speed up the rate of suggestions, and therefore increase the amount of practice.

NOTE: This can be done using computer programmes such as photoshop, or
also with any app that cuts objects in pictures and allows for colouring the
cut-out shape with a plain colour.

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Another task is this one:


Use of present perfect to describe events leading up to present situation; oral or
written brainstorm, based on given sentence pattern.

Materials: a set of pictures showing people in different moods: individual copies, or
one set large enough to be displayed to the full class.
Procedure: go through the pictures with the students defining with them the apparent
feelings of the person depicted (“worried…surprised…exhausted”) – you may have
several possibilities for each picture. Then take one picture, and ask them what they
think has happened to make the person feel this way.
She is worried because her young son has not come home yet, and it`s very late.
Write up a few suggestions on the board. Then let them do the same in writing for
other pictures, working individually or in pairs. They do not need to take the pictures in
any rigid order: let them choose whichever ones they want, and do as many as they
can in the time. Then hear and discuss results.
Variations: the same may be done in writing for homework.

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And another more:


Use of past for narrative; free composition of sentences based on picture cues; oral or

Materials: sets of pictures apparently showing a story – but ambiguous: could be taken
in any order.

Procedure: after students have had some practice working from picture stories (…), put
them into groups and give each group a set of the pictures – each picture on a
separate piece of paper. The groups then decide in what order they want their pictures
to be, and write an appropriate story. If a group finishes early, it puts the pictures in
another order and writes another story.

Each group in turn then reads out a story they have written. As they do so, other
groups arrange the pictures in the order they think the story implies; check they all
have the right order before going on to the next story.

Variations: is there a “best” or “most probable” order of the pictures? Discuss.

For homework, give students another set of similar pictures to write a story about.

UR, Penny, 1996, Grammar Practice Activities: a practical guide for teachers. Cambridge University

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UR, Penny, 1996, Grammar Practice Activities: a practical guide for teachers. Cambridge University

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Here you can find some links with wonderful ideas on how to use images in
an ELT class.

Explore some of them and jot down notes on the ones you find interesting or

The use of visual resources in ELT

Let`s reflect on the tasks we have seen so far.

How are the images included used? Are they used from an artistic

In some of these previous activities, the visual material included is not artistic
in nature, while in other situations it is; but in all of them their artistic
identity is somehow hidden or remains unaware to the student. As Claudia
Pesce states in her article, “most ESL students have taken enough courses and
classes to become accustomed to pictures, flashcards and illustrations. So
accustomed, in fact, that they may not be fully engaged in some activities.”

PESCE, Claudia, What You Can Do With Photos, 10 Creative ESL Games/Activities, Busy Teachers published at

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In all these tasks, students are using the resources presented to do something,
to accomplish an aim as part of a learning activity. In none of them are they
being directed to enjoying the material, to connecting it with their own
feelings and emotions…they are not being involved in appreciating it but
remain somehow detached from it.

Even when the didactic resources are overtly artistic material, they are
generally used in a way that prevents their artistic nature from emerging.
They are used as a didactic tool to aid the teaching-learning process but their
purely-artistic element seems to be somehow lost in the activities we find in
the EFL course books and lessons.

In the following lessons, we will explore some of the notions and tendencies
that value the artistic form itself and that try to bring it to the foreground
while using it as a didactic resource as well.

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Lesson 3 – Art at the core
A picture is worth a thousand words – Unknown

The Scream – Edvard Munch
1893 – Munch Museum - Oslo

Do you remember our first words in this course? They were related to this
main question: What is Art?

In the answers we read about feelings and emotions, and also about enjoying
the artwork and finding pleasure in its appreciation. If this instance of
contemplation, immersion and emotion is forgotten, the person is prevented
from having a real aesthetic experience. So, one moment that should always
be included if art is to be used as a didactic resource is the one that gives
room to feelings and appreciation of the artwork.

Let`s experience some of these notions:
1. Look at the following for 2 minutes. You don’t need to reflect on it, just
watch it…
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After watching it, see if you can intuitively answer the following:

o Did you feel anything?
o Did you think anything?

2. Let`s listen to something now. Close your eyes and just listen.

After listening to it…

o Did you feel anything?
o Did you think anything?
o Are you now in the same way you were before listening to this?

3. Our last experience, watch this for a minute:

o Did you feel anything?
o Did you think anything?

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Were these brief experiences useful in helping you appreciate the works?

Were your emotions stirred within you?

Could you observe them? Could you appreciate them?

It is not essential if you liked them or not, the relevant thing is if you felt
something. Not all of us like and enjoy the same things, but in the field of the
Arts the important thing is to go through them, to experience the art piece
and feel it. Then we can judge it or evaluate our preferences.

So, before moving on, we are having a hands-on activity for our next

Before the assignment, reflect on the following:

 Do you practise any art?
 Have you ever taken any art lessons?
 How do you feel when creating or dancing, performing, etc?
 Do you enjoy practising any of the arts?

You can find the assignment in a separate file in our virtual classroom.

In this assignment you have experienced Art itself. You were creating. You
were the artist.

Going through the experience before asking our students to do something, or
to be creative in a task, is very important. We need to have the experience of
what the task implies. We need to experiment what we feel and the emotions
that we go through while in the process of creation.
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You may have realized, and also felt, that while preparing the assignment you
were involved as yourselves, as Ushioda (2011) states in her work on
motivation. She asserts that “when students are encouraged to “speak as
themselves” and to express and “engage their identities through the language
they are learning” their motivation increases.

There was no possibility for you to feel detached from what you were doing,
no way for you to feel disengaged, because you were expressing yourselves,
you were committed and somehow exposed. “Creativity takes courage”,
Matisse said. You have felt that and you were courageous!


USHIODA, E. (2011). Motivating Learners to Speak as Themselves. In G. Murray., G. Xuesong and T. Lamb (Eds.), Identity,
Motivation and Autonomy in Language, p. 15 Learning (pp.11-24). Bristol: Multilingual Matters.


Important note: When asking our students to present their own creations, in
which imagination and expression are required, one key rule to follow is to
instruct students on the importance of RESPECT. All students should respect
the creation of others and should show acceptance of their fellow students`
production. If this value is not at the core, it is difficult for students to enter
a creative mood and to be open and express themselves.


Using art as a didactic resource requires the teacher to include this
aesthetic and personal connection with the piece of art. It also requires the
teacher to let the students experience the artwork so as not to relegate the
artistic power to the background.

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In artistic subjects the curriculum design is structured around three main
axes: appreciation, production and socio-cultural context.(1)

 Appreciation: an artistic production stimulates the viewer`s sensibility.
Esiner states that “experience is the necessary condition for knowledge”
and, so, it is necessary to educate students to become art observers,
giving them opportunities to develop the abilities needed to understand
and interpret the different discursive elements of each artistic
language. In this way they will develop their aesthetic sense to be able
to appreciate Art.

When somebody watches a piece of art, he/she is not just looking at it, but
also examining, interpreting it. This means there is a cognitive activity
implied in the observation. Appreciation involves observing it in a way that
emotions are evoked and thinking skills are at work.

 Production: artistic production involves creation. In this axis contents
deal with the practical and concrete aspect of the arts. Students paint,
act, dance, sing, play an instrument, etc. all of which are ways of
knowing in the field of the arts. Students need to produce art, to
become artists, and this is articulated with reflecting on that practice.
They can reflect after the production is finished or while they are
creating/producing it.

 Socio-cultural context: each artistic production is part of a culture and
it is created in a particular socio-cultural context. Students need to be
aware that a piece of art is a cultural practice and, as such, it is
related to the different dimensions of its context: political, economic,
social, spatial, temporal, technological, etc.

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To interpret a piece in a broader sense, this relationship between the work
and the context in which it was created (and even the context in which it is
now viewed) needs to be acknowledged and analysed. In this way, the
interpretation and appreciation of the art piece will be more precise and

All three areas are equally important when teaching any of the arts.


1. Lenguajes Artísticos Expresivos I y II, para el Profesorado de Educación Inicial y de Educación Primaria, Ministerio
de Educación, CABA, 2011


Now, we are going to look into some activities for the EFL classroom that
include Art as art, this is, that use art as a didactic resource, keeping their
artistic identity intact and making use of it. As you will see, some activities
involve appreciation, others production and others analyzing the context.

However, these activities are used as tasks in the EFL lessons, and so they are
used either as pre-, while-, or post- skills activities and they are also used in a
particular part of the lesson. If the approach used for planning is PPP
(Presentation – Practice – Production), then the task can be used either in the
presentation stage, the practice or the production one.

It is important to remember this because the presentation that follows is that
of individual tasks that have been used in English lessons. They have all been
tried with real students. The age group that they have been aimed at
originally is also included.

In the file Unit 2 - Part 2 you will find the following lessons for this unit.

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