As an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher, using art is a highly effective way to bridge the gap between student and teacher. It’s difficult to keep a class of 45 public high school students focused, especially when they speak a different language. To get that many kids to actually learn something in your foreign language lesson, artwork is your best friend.
Students in Thailand love to draw. Even as teenagers, it seems most Thai students retain the same artistic fervor they had when they were first learning to color. When I told my class of 15-year-olds they’d be drawing pictures to present to the class, they immediately got focused and awaited instruction.
A simple, effective ESL art lesson for ‘My favorite holiday’: The students illustrate their chosen holiday, write a couple of sentences about the holiday, and present it to the class.
All of my high school classes were incredibly receptive to this exercise. And this lesson isn’t just about drawing pictures. It’s an effective way for the teacher to assess each individual student’s speaking ability and improve their confidence.
Confidence is important because ESL students are very shy about speaking English. Even when a student butchered the English-speaking portion of this exercise, I gave them a ton of positive praise anyway. That way, the students at a lower level will be more inclined to participate in future speaking assignments.
Because of the success of this activity, I’m convinced that using art is the best way to teach English as a foreign language. Whether visual or musical, art is a universal language that bridges even the widest cultural gaps.