Painting with Van Gogh – CLIL lesson

Do you ever bring art into your ESL classroom?

Here´s a lesson idea you can use to get creative and teach English at the same time!

  1. Lead-in

Have the self-portrait of Van Gogh displayed on the board:


Source: google images

Ask the students to work in pairs and answer the questions:

– Who is this? What do you know about him? Was he happy? Was he successful?




2. Famous paintings

Have some of the famous Van Gogh´s paintings displayed on the board paintings 1 paintings 2  (source: google images)
Ask the students to work in small groups and think of a name for each of the paintings.
After brief class feedback, distribute the cards with the original names of paintings and have the students match them.
Have the students work in pairs and choose their favourite painting. Have them explain their choices.

3. Van Gogh´s famous Paintings – Quiz
Have the students work in small groups and distribute the quiz questions: Van Gogh Paintings – quiz questions (description of paintings included)
Have a short description of each painting displayed around the room.  Have the students take turns and look for the answers to the quiz questions in the texts.
Have brief class feedback.
4. Painting/drawing techniques – brainstorming
Have the students work in small groups and brainstorm different painting and drawing techniques. Ask them to use dictionaries if necessary. Have them listed on the board:

Oil painting/watercolour/pencil drawing/charcoal drawing/acrylic painting/graffiti/gouache/mural/action painting/easel painting/pastel/pencil sketches/ink painting/glass painting/

Have them work in pairs and tell each other which of the techniques they have tried and enjoyed the most.
5. Drawing materials – vocabulary focus
Have the students stand in a circle and place all the drawing materials and tools you brought to the class today in the middle:

Have the students work as a group and match the vocabulary cards (you previously prepared) with the items in front of them. Work on the pron if necessary, e.g a kneaded eraser.

6. Charcoal (rub-out) drawing – Sunflowers
Ask the students if they have ever tried drawing with charcoal. What were their experiences like? Tell the learners that today they are going to learn how to draw with charcoal using a rub out technique. You can learn more about the technique at the following link:

Have the picture of Van Gogh´s Sunflowers displayed on the board:


Source: google images

Distribute all the necessary materials (charcoal, kneaded erasers, drawing paper) and demonstrate the technique to the students. Explain that their drawing should be their own interpretation of the famous painting.






Create a class display with students´ drawings and have them explain to their partner the stages of a rub out technique.




I feel that the drawing activity brought the learners together and created a supportive and nurturing environment. It turned out to be a great team building activity.



Happy creating!

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