Philadelphia Museum of Art ESL activity (1995)

R.J. Preece (EFL) , G. Tomlinson
English for Art & Design | 16 October 2011
This document was prepared and utilised in 1995. Click to see the English for Art and Design overview page.

Philadelphia Museum of Art ESL activity

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Both teacher and student editions of a guide for a tour of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, designed for students in an intensive English as a Second Language (ESL) program at Temple University (Pennsylvania) are presented here. They were intended to provide a content-based tour of a local art museum for university ESL students that ESL teachers could teach with limited or no knowledge of art required. In the intensive ESL program, the tour is used both for a content-based field trip experience and in an elective course on the visual arts. The teacher guide contains teacher notes, a script to be read to students at the museum, and exercises for comprehension, description, recall, and discussion. The exercises focus on both appreciation of art and daily living situations related to the trip, and include pre-visit, during-visit, and post-visit activities. In the teacher edition, teacher prompts and supplemental activities are also suggested. The student edition contains only the exercises. It is suggested that the activities could be adapted to any museum.


This [document] consists of two editions: an instructor and student edition for an ESL-oriented trip to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

These editions were written to address a need at Temple University’s Intensive English Language Program (IELP): developing a content-based tour of a local art museum for our students that ESL teachers could teach, with limited or no knowledge of art required. Due to student difficulty in understanding tours designed for native speakers of English, we decided to develop a tour in which students could learn about American art, understand the language produced, and also practice their language skills and their new knowledge about art in a classroom and museum context.

At IELP, this tour has a dual purpose. First, it provides our general student population with an opportunity to participate in a content-based field trip experience at an art museum. Second, it provides one of four tours for IELP’s content-based elective focusing on the visual arts in Philadelphia.

These editions can be approached in two ways. If you and your students are located in the Philadelphia area, then we encourage you to use these editions directly. Contact the Philadelphia Museum of Art to purchase slides and postcards of the art works discussed in these editions. However, these editions can also be adapted for use at other art museums. As the tour revolves around four kinds of art works which will be in almost any art museum, if you identify four comparable works, you can replace the works in these editions to fit another museum’s context. The descriptions of the museum and the art works can be rewritten with the assistance of the museum’s education division, and they also may be able to loan you slides and identify which paintings are reproduced on postcards.

Click the following to read Philadelphia Museum of Art ESL Activity (Instructor and student editions) (32 pages; student edition begins on page 22) on the ERIC documents website.