Museums are the perfect place for English learners to add to their expanding vocabularies, and build fluency.
So, it’s no surprise that museum field trips are often a preferred destination for ESL instructors.
Whatever the museum, its exhibit or collections, providing additional ESL materials can help create museum programmers create even more high interest engagement with ESL learners.
ESL programs need not be substantially different from a museum’s traditional programming, but keeping some basic techniques in mind can help programmers create an even better experiences for visiting ESL classes.
1. GET STUDENTS TALKING!
Museums often involve tours- but with ESL teachers want Learners to do the talking. Work towards a 70/30 split. Ideally, programmers should only be speaking 30% of the time.
Task-based activities requiring speaking are a good way to get students talking. Engaging in task- based activities early on in a museum visit also helps break the ice with ESL learners- you may be surprised at increased level of engagement so hold on to your hats!
Try out some information gap tasks, where one student knows something the other must find out. Authentic materials from museum exhibits are the perfect choice for task-based activities.
Exploring the museum for the purpose of completing a specific task is a good way to transform students into active learners. Get students to describe what they think the museum is about!
2. HANDS ON!
Museums are full of things- why not use them to help ESL learners connect with new vocabulary and build fluency.
Museum collections provide the visual and tactile experiences that help learners REMEMBER new vocab.
At the Vancouver Police Museum, where I volunteer, I see this all the time. Students may think they know that a kilt is a plaid skirt worn my men, but when they see the life size mannequin in a kilt, poofy hat and leopard skin- they actually KNOW what a kilt is.
3. VOCAB WITH A BANG!
Museum based vocab games are a great way to promote student interaction AND create teachable moments.
Sudden Death is a simple and fun game that that helps you end museum programming on a high energy note.
Give learners a list of vocabulary from the tour to memorize within a few minutes. Then, when time is up, have students stand up. Randomly ask students to describe a particular word. If they get it right, they remain standing. If not, they have to sit down.
I am sure there are endless fun and creative ways to shake up museum programming.
So get to playing!
Post your tips here!