For Teaching

Understanding and supporting multilingual learners in arts learning.

Teaching Multilingual Learners (MLs)

The artistic process brings MLs out of their shells and engages them deeply. With a more complete understanding and a few tricks up their sleeves, Teaching Artists can create a rich learning experience for students who are learning English.
Understanding the Experience of MLs
Multilingual Learners immersed in an English-dominant school setting have a complex set of intellectual and emotional reactions. Professor Jennifer Stengel-Mohr leads teachers and teaching artists through unpacking their students' experiences.
A Supportive Theater Strategy

Language Learning Levels

What are realistic expectations and how do I differentiate to support MLs? This chart explains the terminology schools use and shows the levels in the language learning process.
Language Learning
A visual aid titled “Dancers in Shapes.” The subtitle is, “The design of the body as it exists in shapes.” There are two rows of three photos with an arrow in the middle. The arrow represents a continuum from more circular shapes on the left to more angular shapes on the right. Each photo includes a dancer demonstrating a type of body shape. The shapes are labeled as follows: Top Row (left to right) Rounded, Expanded, Angular; Bottom Row (left to right) Circular, Stretched, Twisted.

Effectively Using Visual Supports

Visual supports engage MLs and help increase understanding. Pairing visual aids with other language learning strategies leads to a supportive and creative classroom environment.
Tips for Using Visuals
The Creative Learning Loop
In making original artistic work, students continuously collaborate, share and use feedback to revise. Engaging in the Creative Learning Loop builds student voice and fosters ownership of learning - developing students as artists and as language learners. Find tools to support MLs in this process in the Formative Assessment Toolkit.
Formative Assessment Toolkit
Connections to Social Emotional Learning
There is an organic connection between social emotional learning and artmaking. Students explore new ways of thinking, connect to their emotional selves and collaborate with classmates. Arts learning allows us to enrich our learning in ways that are not directly related to academic performance. MLs experience a brave space where their voices can be heard.
Lowering the Affective Filter Through the Arts
Low motivation can hinder language acquisition because it blocks language stimulation from reaching the brain. This block is known as the “affective filter.” High motivation results in an increased ability to learn and use a new language. When students lower their affective filter in the arts, they make themselves more open and available for learning.