Supporting Language Literacy with the Arts

Five ways to fuse the arts with language development


The arts can support your English Language Learners in multiple ways—academically, socially, emotionally and creatively. Here are 5 sources to get you ready to start fusing music, visual arts and other art forms with language development:

Need a quick answer to the “why the arts” question? Erin Wilkey Oh at Common Sense Education offers three you can keep in your pocket: Art is a universal language; the arts allow learners to express culture, and learn new ones; and Art experiments with identity—particularly on-target for tweens and teens.

Want to get closer to close-reading? This article and “picture of practice” video showcases the arts-integrated approach high school teacher Lindsay Young takes to this critical reading strategy – we love the idea of “reading portraits like we would read a story.”

Comfort is key. Beyond instructional strategies, it’s important for your language learners – all your learners!—to feel known, accepted and welcomed. From supporting cultural practices and experiences, to understanding (and allowing youth to express) the difficulties and complexities of school and home life, the arts can provide crucial social, emotional and communication outlets for young people. This collection –while not focused on the arts--can help frame your creation of a positive learning space for ELLs.

Rhythm and pattern underlies Language and Literacy Development. Also from Colorin Colorado, this research-rich article breaks down the ways language is processed and the role of phonemic awareness as learners navigate the complexities of rhythm and pattern in their language and reading development. Pair with this article from Reading Rockets for an actionable, informed background on the connections across the ways we use and transfer language skills.

Ready to go deeper? ELL students.com houses a collection of approaches and resources for teachers ready to tackle the deeper practices that help ELLs succeed. There are a number of free tools (registration required) in addition to their blog—which helps track the existing and emerging practices that help support language learners across their school and community experiences.




Editors & Producers

Kenny Neal
Manager, Digital Education Resources

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