Developing English Communicative Competence through Art (DECCA) focuses on how the different ways in which learners’ cultural and linguistic backgrounds deeply influence their experiences in the classroom and when learning in non formal environments. . DECCA is a project to improve English Learning, enhancing students’ communicative competence and, together with other methodologies: gallery walk, freeze frame or mental walk, it is mainly based on the research done by Philip Yenawine, using Art to deepen learning across School disciplines. DECCA project has adapted Yenawine’s method, together with other innovative teaching techniques and strategies to get the most of our learners by developing their critical thinking and language skills. This partnership arises from the previous research done by the Spanish institutions participating in this project and the collaboration of two European organisations committed to innovate our classroom and find innovative methods to help our students to successs. These participating organisations are: EOI Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and EOI Telde (Spain), two adult state Language Schools and Westfalen-Kolleg Bielefeld (Germany) and Mullsjö folkhögskola (Sweden), two second chance adult institutions.
Our three main objectives are:
1) To enhance English learning communicative competence through art by allowing learners’ using their own creativity and cultural background.
2) To bring adults closer to the world or art and increase their interest in Art galleries and museums so as to build an intercultural awareness.
3) To use the target language in non formal contexts to motivate learners
Art has always been used as a tool to teach a language. Describing pictures is an activity all course books or textbooks make use of in order to introduce a topic, make students focus their attention on the board or as a warming-up activity, just to mention a few, and it is also an activity teachers often use in their lesson plans. However, based on our experience, the use of this material is basically the same: describing landscapes and physical appearance to practice vocabulary.
DECCA project goes further. Not only do we wish to increase learners’ vocabulary, but also open their minds to creativity through a work of art. The project does not intend to be an art class but an English class with an added element: ART. A new methodology that will lead students to make their own interpretations based on observation of a particular work of art regardless of their style. DECCA is a whole-brain methodology project which explores hemisphericity and invites to learn a language through visits to museums and art galleries and enjoying creative activities. The project includes Art debates in class as well as visits to Museums and Art galleries.
DECCA is Art integration into English language classrooms and in non formal learning contexts giving students the opportunity to engage into new and varied approaches while gaining emotional positive responses to learning, understanding and communicating their own ideas through art.
The project is expected to have a very positive impact, first , in all participating Schools, especially in the English and Art departments and be extended to other learning languages as a valuable tool for language teachers and second, to spread the project to other teachers and institutions as a way to transform schools into engaging, exciting laboratories for critical thinking and communication skills.
DECCA Project intends, among other activities, to use social networks to help learners in writen communication and Web Quests as an ICT research tool to approch them to Art. Besides, the project will offer an Open Licence Resource Guide enjoyable activity book for teachers and students of English to be used in class or at our local Museum . Our purpose is to develop learning interpretive strategies that promote visual comprehension and to facilitate a variety of learning experiences centered on the works of art.