The NICE Framework

A methodological guide for developing the macro-skill of ‘Viewing’

Background and Rationale

The NICE Framework was developed by Andrew Ferguson for the Modern Language Teachers’ Association of Victoria (MLTAV), initially to facilitate the work of the Language Support Educators Program at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), which arose in response to requests from Languages teachers at an NGV Professional Learning event in 2014 for NGV student experiences to be offered in the Target Language (TL). Volunteer teachers of Languages were trained as ‘support guides’ both by NGV educators to build knowledge and capacity in Visual Arts education, and by MLTAV in methodology for use of the Visual Arts in Languages education, especially to develop students’ viewing/language skills in the TL, and intercultural understanding. These Language Support Educators then provided part of the guided program (in the TL) for student groups visiting the gallery (physically and/or virtually – noting that the NGV has an extensive offering of online works of art). The Program ran successfully for five years, as a strong strategic partnership between the MLTAV and the NGV.

The methodological challenges/opportunities for the Language Support Educators lay partly in guiding student appreciation of the works of art (noting that the viewing text types at the NGV were wide-ranging, including not only paintings and drawings but also furniture, ceramics and glassware, sculpture, installations, clothing, multimedia presentations etc.). A greater challenge/opportunity lay, though, in ensuring that students developed their language skills through viewing. Andrew incorporated terminology from the Australian/Victorian Curriculum for German and the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE), and drew on the work of various academics to develop the NICE Framework, including Ignatius Joseph N. Estroga, Liceo de Cagayan University, Philippines:

“The skill of Viewing involves:

• understanding visual images and connecting them to accompanying spoken or written words;

• interpreting the images for which words stand and connecting visual images in videos, computer programs, and websites with accompanying printed or spoken words;

• enhances listening skills when students attend to nonverbal communication and visual elements of performance, video, television, film, and multimedia presentations;

• enhances reading when students attend to visuals accompanying print (e.g., charts, diagrams, illustrations); specific textual techniques (e.g., layout, colour, symbols); and the assumptions, perspectives, and quality of a variety of media (e.g. photos, plays, video).”

adapted from

Following the success of the use of the NICE Framework in the context of student engagement with works of art from the NGV, the Framework continues to be used successfully to guide the work of Languages Experts who present webinars to support teachers when working with films presented by the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF). Next Gen, more recently named MIFF Schools, has been running in partnership with MLTAV since 2007, with special screenings of films in many Languages, for viewing by school students. In 2020 MIFF Schools has very successfully moved to an online program in response to the COVID crisis, giving greater access to the films, especially to schools for which a physical visit to a screening was challenging.

Methodology: Developing Language Skills and Intercultural Understanding through Viewing

The NICE Framework provides a set of guiding steps for learners of Languages when engaging with a cultural product of a visual nature. There is an underlying Intercultural Language Learning Approach (IcLL) to the methodology (, linking Language acquisition with the students’ identities and, in the long view, promoting social cohesion through stronger intercultural understanding. The methodology is also ideally suited to a CLIL approach.

Teachers will choose the level, and proportion of TL use to meet students’ needs, noting that some of the more complex discussion/reflection will probably be carried out in the students’ first Language(s), especially for beginners.

The steps are as follows:

1. NOTICE content of visual representation at many levels; style and function(s) of the viewed text

2. INTERPRET theme, mood, intentions of artist, sociocultural context

3. CREATE another language-based text-type linked to the visual cultural product

4. EVALUATE experience in engaging with the visual cultural product

Andrew is available to lead workshops with teachers, and/or assist with guiding students to work with the NICE Framework.