Artmaking motivates learners and inspires creative and authentic use of language.

Why language learning in the arts?

Artmaking uses nonverbal expression and playful exploration of language to create a safe, inviting space for language learners. This helps MLs communicate beyond their proficiency level and to grow their self-confidence.
While learning to work and think like an artist, students use language to:
- Understand concepts & vocabulary of the art form- Brainstorm ideas & make artistic choices - Explain their choices to others - Describe what a work of art communicates to them

Collaborating to Create Original Work

In dance, a 5th grade advanced ML/ELL finds a creative outlet where she builds a strong artistic voice and grows into a leader among her peers.

Reinforcing Grammatical Structures

While creating and responding to artwork, MLs can practice and reinforce grammatical structures in English in context as they actively engage in the artistic process.
Write a Movie Script

Language Learning through the Arts

The artmaking space is inherently conducive to language development. Arts and language learning are enhanced by teaching strategies and language supports such as visual aids, discussion prompts, protocols, and graphic organizers.

The Engagement Zone
Language learning takes place within a context that is either basic or complex, and either supported or unsupported. The learning environment can enhance or hinder language development. Arts learning takes place in the ‘engagement zone’ where the learning is both complex and supported - an ideal context for language learning.
Cummins-Paradigm Diagram
Five middle school students stand on a stage. One is gesturing with her hands as if she is directing the others. The other students are in a tableau, all looking up.

Strategies for Multilingual Learners

Discover valuable strategies for
supporting ML students in their arts and language learning.
Strategies for MLs
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.

Teach with DELLTA Toolkits

In our Teach with DELLTA toolkits, you’ll find lesson plans, teaching strategies and downloadable tools that were piloted in NYC classrooms.

Experience of MLs

MLs immersed in an English-dominant setting have a complex set of intellectual and emotional reactions. In this exercise, educators unpack their students' experiences.

Communicative Competence

“If you are to be proficient in a
language, it involves more than a
whole bunch of memorized words.” Jennifer Stengel-Mohr explains communicative competence and arts lear
Communicative Competence Chart