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English Conversation – The Arts

Monday, May 2, 2011 @ 04:05 PM
posted by Jo

This is the preparation material for an English conversation lesson about 'The Arts'. It includes an explanation about  when to use the definite article when talking about art forms, some art vocabulary, idioms we might use when discussing the arts and some conversation questions we might use when discussing this subject.

The Arts 

The Arts (plural) is a general term which covers many things. For example:

  • Literature – drama, poetry, stories, biographies
  • Performing Arts – dance, cinema, theatre, opera, concerts
  • Fine Arts – painting, sculpture, ceramics, photography 

Art (singular, uncountable) usually means fine art, but can also refer to technique and creativity. 

Grammar Point 

When we refer to a performing art in general, we can leave out the article before the noun.  For example: “Are you interested in ballet/theatre/dance?” 

However, when we refer to a particular performance, we include the definite article. For example: “Would you like to come to the ballet/theatre/dance?” 


Idioms we might use when discussing the arts 

  • To blow someone away – to overwhelm a person; to excite a person very much
  • Work of art – a good result of one’s efforts; a piece of artwork
  • On the edge of one’s seat – to be very interested in something, usually something that is both extremely exciting and nerve-wracking.
  • Mixed feelings - When you have mixed feelings about something, you react to it with conflicting emotions; you are happy and unhappy at the same time. 


Do you know the meaning of these words in the context of the arts? 

  • Rave reviews
  • Cast
  • Sculptor
  • Collage
  • Composition
  • Medium
  • Choreographer 

Conversation questions about the arts 

  • What are your "top three" art forms?
  • What is your favourite art form?
  • Do you think it is important for people to be educated in ‘the arts’?
  • Do you think it should be compulsory for children to study the arts at school?
  • In what ways were you encouraged to appreciate the arts at school?  
  • Why are the arts important?
  • Does your country have any well-known artists who are famous for cinema, theatre, literature, ballet, opera, classical music or painting?
  • What can art tell us about history and culture?
  • What would life be like without art?
  • Do you have a favourite artist?
  • Which country would you visit to appreciate the arts? What would you go to see?
  • What is your opinion of modern art?
  • Do you think art was of a higher quality in the past?
  • Why is music and dancing considered a form of art?
  • Do you think of cartoons and comics as art?
  • Have you ever been to any famous art museums?
  • What do you think of shock art?
  • Do you think art can affect people’s emotions?
  • Do you think it is a waste of money for people to spend millions of dollars on a piece of art?
  • How important is dancing in your culture?
  • Do you think today’s literature is up to the same standard of the literature from a hundred years ago?
  • Has the literature of your country influenced the world?
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