As part of learning to draw, I decided to do three types of activities. The first was to find some general drawing lessons for beginners online and see what basic techniques I could learn from them. The second was to take a former student’s advice and draw something every day with a time limit of 15 minutes. He said that drawing every day would allow my skills to increase naturally over time and that setting a limit of 15 minutes would force me to draw faster and this would make my brain think differently about drawing. He also said that 15 minutes is a chunk of time that most people can find in a day and is less daunting than a long lesson or a class. The third type of drawing I decided to do is related to the topics my students are learning, and that’s what I’m going to focus on in this update.
Vocabulary is so much easier to learn with pictures, so my students and I regularly use picture dictionaries, online images, website activities, and handouts with pictures to learn basic English vocabulary. I decided that while it wasn’t necessary for me to learn how to draw everything that my students learn about, it would be fun to focus on some of the holidays or special days that happen during the year. To that end, I went on YouTube and found tutorials that I could use to practice drawing various images.
I started with Thanksgiving and found three items that I wanted to learn to draw: a cornucopia, a live turkey, and a cooked turkey. Here are photos of my drawings from my sketchbook.
For Halloween, I was able to find a lot more pictures that I wanted to draw and I made a video that explains more about this set of pictures. Unfortunately, I turned the camera at one point and I can’t figure out how to edit the video to make all of the images show up vertically, so hopefully you’re watching this video on a tablet or phone so that you can easily turn the screen to see the image correctly. (If anyone knows how to edit a video filmed on an Android phone so that you can rotate some of the images without losing the audio, please let me know how to do this in the comments. I’d really appreciate it!)
For Remembrance Day, I learned how to draw a poppy, a stylized one that’s different from the poppies that Canadians generally wear for this day.
I used a variety of YouTube channels to learn how to draw these images and was able to complete all of the ones that I tried. However, I found that the videos where someone gave instructions while they drew and let you see what they drew before moving on to the next step were the easiest for me to learn from. These included the ones from Young Rembrandts, Art for Kids Hub, and Draw So Cute. While I was able to follow the videos that didn’t include instructions, I found that I needed to rewatch each part more often and the video often moved much farther ahead than I was since there wasn’t an audio signal that we were moving to the next part of the drawing. Something to remember if I ever make my own instructional videos.
Now that I’ve done some drawing on the board, I’m looking for ways to include my students in this project. One idea is for us to watch the same video and each draw the picture, which we could then put up on the walls and talk about. Maybe we could do this once a week and a different student could choose the video each week. Another possibility is having students who know how to draw (or who have another skill) teach the rest of us something. It’s a great way for everyone to learn a new skill and for my students to practice English.
I’d love to hear any ideas you have about how I can use drawing or other art-related skills with adult students learning English.