Journal of Pedagogy, Pluralism, and Practice

Publication Date

Fall 2017


Oral language skills are essential to the future literacy of students in kindergarten and first grade, especially emergent bilinguals (EBs). Yet, U.S. teachers receive few professional development opportunities that prepare them to use effective strategies for promoting oral language development. Since teacher education is compartmentalized into curricular silos, methods for literacy instruction are taught in one course, methods for arts instruction in another, and so on. This article argues that well-designed arts integration can meet a key need of young, linguistically diverse students by providing opportunities for oral language practice across content areas. Experimental evidence that arts-based instruction benefits the speaking skills of EBs is presented; the underlying mechanisms are explored. An example of a fieldwork program that provided pre-service teachers with hands-on experience in K-1 classes is included, showing how they learned to enhance the verbal skills of EBs through integration of drama, music, and movement.



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