Directors: Antonio M. Battro and Kurt W. Fischer
Program officer: María Lourdes Majdalani
In dialogue: links between drama and the academic English language development of at-risk-youth
In this presentation, we report on the ongoing findings from a collaborative arts and language arts program that services Middle School-aged English Language Learners situated in an urban, high-poverty center of Los Angeles, CA. All students participating in the study were at risk of school failure for limited academic English and were targeted for 90 hours of additional instruction outside of the academic school year. Using a treatment-comparison design, participants were divided into two sub-groups, where one group received a standard English language arts/mathematics program at their Middle School, and the other participated in a combined drama/visual arts/English language arts program at Inner-City Arts, a non-profit educational arts center in Los Angeles. With programmatic differences, both programs were designed to improve participants' English Language skills. Based on findings from one-on-one interviews, surveys, and observations, we explore the impact of students' participation in the dramatic arts on their English language development. Findings point to the ways in which the dramatic arts support inner-dialogue. Implications for learning, language development, and research on language learning and the brain will be discussed.