English for art and design: Red Pepper Club Project (1998)
This project walks students through the language and argumentation route of a studio art / design project.
English for Art & Design | 24 August 2010
The following is an excerpt of an educational project brief previously published in Peter Master & Donna Brinton (Eds.), New Ways in English for Specific Purposes (pp. 132-5) (1998). Alexandria, VA, USA: TESOL. Click to see the English for Art and Design overview page.
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EFL Language Level
For teachers: In specialized language training on the creation and presentation of studio projects, collaborative design speaking projects offer an alternative to having students talk about their work. The Red Pepper Club Project is one such activity; it asks students to think, act, negotiate ideas in a group, and speak “on their feet”. Visual arts production is downplayed but acts as the vehicle for accelerated, specialized language practice.
1. Bring some red peppers to class. Ask the students, in groups, to examine one pepper and brainstorm about its characteristics (e.g., color, line, shape, texture, taste, smell). Ask them to look at the inside as well and report this information. Create a word web of this information on the blackboard.
2. Introduce the Red Pepper Club Project (see Appendix A towards the end of this document). Explain to the students that their task is to concentrate on one design aspect of the Red Pepper Club (e.g., fashion design, product design) and present their design concept to the club’s owners.
3. Ask the students to work in groups to prepare a brief presentation in order to display their ideas for the class.
Caveats and options
1. Have the students do the project within a set, in-class time period so that they will spend time communicating ideas quickly rather than concentrating on art / design production. Quick conceptual sketches on a marker board should help them communicate their ideas effectively.
2. Use the activity to supplement a unit on presentation skills development.
3. Use the framework with other fruits and vegetables.
4. Extend the project over two classes. In the first class, brainstorm about the red pepper. For homework, ask the students to find out about red peppers (where they are grown, what dishes they are used in, how they are grown). In the second class, have the students design and present their ideas.
5. Have the students who are not presenting take notes about each project, using the questions in the Appendix as a guide.
6. Have the students write brief essays about their designs.
References and further reading
> R. J. Preece. (1997). “Modelling language instruction on collaborative design projects”. Journal of the Imagination in Language Learning, 4, pp. 108-110.
Appendix: The Red Pepper Club Project
The owners of the Red Pepper Club (a dance club with a bar and cafe in a very large city) want to create a wild, visually unusual, and spicy atmosphere for their guests. It will be a new place for people to meet and celebrate the spirit of a red chili pepper. They have asked you to select and design one or more of the following:
> a fashion design (e.g., uniforms for waiters, waitresses, the doorman, the bartender, the Red Pepper dancers, and other employees)
> a product design (e.g., chairs, tables, bar, bar stools, drinking glasses, plates, cutlery, bathroom fixtures)
> a graphic design (e.g., a poster, an advertisement for a magazine or newspaper, a brochure, a logo)
> an interior design (e.g., a stairwell, a design for the windows and the dance floor)
> a piece of fine art (e.g., a painting, a sculpture, an installation)
During your presentation, please answer these questions:
1. What characteristics of the red pepper inspired you?
2. What did you decide to create?
3. Describe your design and choice of materials.
4. How does your design help create a “wild, visually unusual, and spicy atmosphere”?