The language teaching programme of the Museum of Fine Arts has been awarded with European Language Label. The programme seeks to develop children’s English skills through works of art. Currently under testing at schools, the curriculum performed well at the camps organised by the museum, and it has now been recognised by the European Commission.

Tempus Public Foundation has awarded European Language Label for 15 years to creative and exemplary language teaching programmes which outstandingly promote language learning in Hungary. This year, the award founded by the European Commission was given to the museum pedagogy programme DepARTures, launched by the Museum of Fine Arts.

The interactive curriculum was developed for students by Litza Juhász museum educator in order to develop students' art history and language skills simultaneously.  The project is based on the paintings and sculptures in 17th century Dutch painting and graphic arts collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, in Vasarely Museum of Budapest and in the permanent collection of the Hungarian National Gallery. As the story unfolds, the participants gradually learn about the people depicted in the paintings and sculptures. The characters’ homes and what they are just doing or what they see around themselves can be inferred from the landscapes, interiors and genre scenes. Students’ imagination is also necessary, as they need to make up the details of the story themselves. This playful way of learning has proved informative, motivating, and, as regards language learning, very useful for students who have participated so far.

>> During a week spent in a summer camp, in an arts museum, the participants engage in activities which require them to use their English language skills, and not within the classroom walls, but at a venue which is suitable for cultural and leisure activities. Due to the friendly atmosphere, learningm stress is also reduced. While using the staff entrance, the rear staircase and the corridors, campers become familiar with another face of the museum. The mere fact that they know what is in the basement gives them a sense of being an ‘insider’. On Friday, when their families come to see the exhibition and the guided tour, they become tour guides themselves and show their guests their own works and the works of art, as well as the related tasks.

>> The goal of choosing tasks at the museum and the school which are appropriate for the given generation, as well as motivating and visually appealing works of art, was to get teenage students engaged. As often as it was possible, they used objects which could be touched, in order to promote children's active involvement. These materials arouse participants’ interest and engage all the five senses (e.g. touching textiles and tasting foods), and transfer the role of the ‘teacher’ to the students.

At the summer camps organised by the museum for children, this method has been successfully used for years, and testing in schools is also under way. Besides the tasks and games, they also compiled a teachers’ manual to analysing the works of art, as well as background materials in art history, which later teachers can also use in their language classes.

Involving arts may, in itself, make learning English easier; but the fact that the programme encourages students’ active involvement, improves their problem-solving skills, independence and creativity, definitely makes the project of the Museum of Fine Arts unique.

More information about the project:

Last modified: 17-11-2021