Dalí Concocts a ‘Liquid Desire’ of Language and Culture at the National Gallery of Victoria

Last Sunday I went with my advanced Spanish class to see “Liquid Desire” an exhibition of an extensive collection of works of art by Salvador Dalí the celebrated Spanish surrealist artist at the National Gallery of Victoria. A full range of programs of this exhibition can be found at ngv.vic.gov.au/dali.

This exhibition has brought to Melbourne many of Dalí’s work belonging to all the periods of his long and illustrious career. There are many things that I’d like to write about this prolific and complex artist and his work but I rather leave that for another occasion. What I want to concentrate on this post is about the language learning opportunities that exhibitions such as this can present for the Spanish student.

There are many ways to use works of art for language learning and teaching. In fact the National Gallery of Victoria runs special programs for schools. Tres Culturas Spanish was invited to participate in the educational programs organised for this particular exhibition.

Apart from those special programs, there are an immense amount of language activities that can be carried out based on art exhibitions. It is up to the teacher’s own creativity and imagination and the student’s enthusiasm to make the most of this particular learning field.

Students can write little essays in Spanish about the life of Salvador Dalí. Do an internet research in Spanish about any particular area of his personal or artistic life. They can go to the local library and try to find if they have any literature about the artist; or they may like to translate a small article or essay into Spanish. These are only some examples the list may go on and on.

For students with a high level of language proficiency it is possible to organise lessons that focus on oral work. Each student can talk about what he knows about the artistic work of Salvador Dalí or make a list of things about him that they would like to know more about, like the years he spent in exile in the United States; his collaboration with other artists or the very special relationship he maintained with Gala, his wife.

At the actual exhibition the teacher can use the names and titles of the art works as a further learning practice. For example finding out why a name or tittle is said in different ways in English and Spanish. Students can also write a list of terms that they encounter during their viewing at the exhibition and bring them to class for further analyses and discussion.

Finally, illustration of works by Dalí obtained during the visit to the exhibition can be used to create real or fictional stories about the artist, his life and times. The teacher can direct the students to write more complex stories or essays about the topic.

Salvador Dalí Liquid Desire is at the National Gallery of Victoria until October 4.

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About L. A. Pinel

I'm the founder and Director of Tres Culturas Spanish Language Studio, a specialist Spanish language school in Melbourne, Australia. As a teacher of Spanish I view the study of issues about the nature of the Spanish language in particular and of applied linguistics in general with great passion. I’m also an avid language learner, my other languages are Italian, Portuguese and French; at the moment I'm studying Latin and Mandarin Chinese.

Posted on July 28, 2009, in Culture, Education, Foreign Language Learning, Language, Language learning, Second Language Learning, Spanish, Spanish Language Learning. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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