Arts Integration as a Method of Alternative Education in the ESL Classroom

English Second Language students suffer in the American classroom every year due to a lack of proficiency in English.

These students often get left behind because of the severe language barrier, and too frequently get to an educational low point from which they simply cannot recover. But what if there was a way to better incorporate these students into daily classroom activities, involving them amongst native-speaking students, building their self-confidence, and enhancing their English skills? This is where the arts comes in. Arts integration in the classroom is beneficial in any situation, but particularly when there are ESL learners involved. Singing, acting, movement, drawing, and improvisational activities engage students of all ages, and can be applied to nearly any classroom lesson. ESL learners particularly gain from this type of curriculum as it builds confidence, encourages communication, and aids in advanced social expression. Last fall, I conducted research on the value of arts integration in foreign language education, and was able to experience the successes of this method first hand.

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Over the course of a few months, I taught English to Spanish-speaking second graders through arts-based activities. Under my direction, they played games, had fun, but most importantly, gained valuable English skills that they will carry with them for the rest of their educational career. I am excited to furthering my studies and my efforts towards the incorporation of this educational method into American classrooms on a much larger scale, because I know how beneficial it is for ESL students looking for an alternative method to not only learn the curriculum, but also feel welcomed and comfortable at school. Implementing the arts in the ESL classroom is no difficult task, and teachers can do so without any personal artistic background. Activities can vary based on subject, student interest, and age range, so this learning method can be tailored to an individualized classroom experience. I look forward to scrutinizing current educational issues in my undergraduate studies and beyond, and hope to gain hands-on experience in the actual field of education as an undergrad.

In this way, I can further own knowledge on ESL education and its issues in our modern education system, while simultaneously helping real students in a local classroom, a true passion of mine. All students deserve the same opportunities, and alternative methods of education are the way they are going to acquire their personal chance for success.