Artistic and Linguistic Modules

© Photo Fred FurgolArtistic practices in language learning
“He who knows no foreign language, knows nothing of his own”(Maximen und Reflexionen IV 237)
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

What are the links between modern foreign languages and artistic expression?

Modern foreign languages, like the arts, are a form of communication born from the experience and imagination of the individual. Languages allow us to express how we feel, what we think, our intentions, our dreams, our desires. Language ties us to others and allows us to construct a shared world — it is, therefore, closely linked to our emotions.

In addition, modern foreign languages, like the arts, encourage the development of creative thought. The arts are an integral part of the culture from which they emerge, just like language.

Why should we introduce artistic practices into language learning?

  • Because it is essential to acknowledge the emotional aspect inherent in all linguistic acquisition and expression.

  • To put into practice the latest scientific research, particularly in neuroscience; and to associate action, speech, motivation, memorisation and creativity.

We cannot simply acquaint the students with different forms of artistic expression from the country or countries of the language being taught (music, painting, film, literature, theatre, etc.), we must also help them experience these languages through creative exercises. It is through action that they discover the arts, as well as the cultural practices and contexts of the languages being learnt.

Artistic practices:

  • motivate students, as the students are able to make creative choices which in turn give language learning sense.

  • permit the use of emotional skills which are anchored in the sensory memory.

  • “ to develop minds that are capable of changing references and perspectives. From the point of view of the teaching of language-culture, it is an opportunity to prepare for intercultural relations.”Joëlle Aden, Synergies Europe n° 4 — 2009

© Photo Fred Furgol

The arts in a German-English bilingual class:

English and German have some common roots, and remnants can be found in the lexicon, in certain grammatical structures, and sometimes in phonetics. However, each of these languages has an individual history and its own unique characteristics, in the same way that each person who speaks these languages has their own identity forged from their personal experiences. Through music, slam, theatre, literature, film, visual arts, dance, and other forms of artistic expression, the students create a link with, and between, the languages and cultures being taught.

  • The students learn through action the similarities and differences between the two languages, and can develop their own strategies for the learning of foreign languages.

  • Teachers can work together to create and develop their teaching methods, and collaborate to develop plans from authentic content.

The evaluations of the numerous artistic projects taking place in schools proves that students are more motivated when they produce, create, and experience their learning. A motivated student is a flourishing student, and one that has an open attitude towards the world. It is therefore all the more important to consider this dimension in the teaching of languages and cultures.

“No barrier separates the emotions of our reasoning, of our ideas, of our imagination, of our motivity, of our feelings, of our fears...”

Hélène Trocmé Fabre