Our collections and exhibitions are worth talking about, so they’re a great focal point for ESOL learners to practise English speaking and listening skills. We welcome all ESOL learners to the gallery to participate in our workshops and partnership projects, or take a self-guided visit.

Information for ESOL tutors 

We welcome self-guided visits led by ESOL tutors, and are happy to help however we can. Visiting the gallery with ESOL learners is a great way to take a break from classroom learning, and engage learners with our world-class exhibitions and collections.

Plan your visit 

Click here to find out all you need to know about getting here, access and facilities.  

Get in touch 

If you’re planning to visit the gallery with your ESOL learners, we’d love to hear from you. We can advise you about whats on and which artworks will enable your students to have effective conversations in English. We can also let you know if we have school groups and other events booked in the gallery spaces.

Contact Ruth Edson to talk more about your visit.

Before you visit 

You may find it helpful to visit on your own before you bring your group. We recommend choosing a theme that links to two or three artworks on display and is relevant to work you’ve done in the classroom. There are many themes that can be used in ESOL sessions, such as food and drink, gardens, the sea, Manchester and travel. You may also want to do some preparation with your students prior to visiting by looking at images and talking about art in the classroom.

Free 20-minute welcome session 

Someone from our adult-learning team may be able to start off your tour with a free 20-minute welcome, including a brief history of the gallery and an ESOL introduction to one artwork. This is only possible if a member of staff is available when you visit, but we’ll try our best to accommodate you.

Exploring the gallery 

Let our visitor services staff know you’re here and feel free to chat to them about whats on.

Folding stools are available in the gallery atrium, which can help people feel comfortable and relaxed when looking at and talking about an artwork.

Spend some time showing people where the toilets, shop and cafe are at the beginning of your visit. Encourage people to put their phones on silent and explain that they shouldnt touch artworks unless otherwise stated. Photos are allowed unless otherwise stated.

Explore the gallery’s 19th and 21st century architecture. Can your learners spot where old meets new? Which do they prefer?

Its a large building with lots to see, so it may be difficult to do the whole gallery in one visit. Consider choosing two or three artworks to examine in different parts of the gallery so people can get a feel for the whole building.

Looking at art 

Remember, you dont have to be an expert. Its simply about starting a conversation linked to the art. Use your ESOL skills and the art as a tool for getting people talking.

We encourage visitors to talk openly and say what they think about the art. There’s no right or wrong, just a great way to share opinions about art and issues that affect us all.

Encourage your learners to look closely at two or three artworks and encourage them to identify and describe what they see. If you can, get the group to sit in a semi-circle so everyone has a clear view and can hear properly. Prepare questions to encourage your learners to talk, and get them to ask each other questions. Allow them to look around independently and choose an artwork that resonates with them so they can discuss it.

The Lion’s Den, our family gallery on the ground floor, is a creative space for everyone to use. There’s no ‘correct’ way to interact with it – it’s for all our visitors to explore, play in and enjoy, and can be a great resource for ESOL learners and their families.

Towards the end of your visit, ask learners to compare different artworks and discuss which ones they liked or disliked, and why.

After your visit 

Let your learners know about the free English corner sessions at the gallery on the second Tuesday of each month, and encourage them to come along independently.

You may also want to continue exploring the theme and other images of artworks back in the classroom.

There’s lots to discover at Manchester Art Gallery. You don’t have to see everything in one visit, so come back and explore a different part of the gallery together next time!

looking at paintings in the gallery

We work with partner organisations to enable more ESOL learners to enjoy and benefit from our exhibitions and collections.

Through our partnership projects and events we:

  • Make our collections and exhibitions accessible to everyone
  • Connect with our communities
  • Use art to make ESOL relevant to peoples lives and experiences
  • Spark curiosity and social interaction
  • Help people find inspiration through art
  • Give people opportunities to have meaningful conversations in English.

Currently, we work in partnership with Talk English Manchester and Manchester Adult Education Service. If youre a ESOL organisation interested in working with us, please get in touch with Ruth Edson, our Communities Learning Manager

Information for group leaders 

Groups of up to 10 ESOL learners are very welcome in the gallery, but must be booked in advance as we can only accommodate one group per session.

For more information or to book a session, please contact Ruth Edson, our Communities Learning Manager