Integrating the Arts

Integrating the Arts
Colleen Ryan
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Integrating the arts in foreign language curricula enables us to connect language to other semiotic spaces and cultural productions such as theater, the fine arts, art history, architecture, music, museum cultures, and literature. By embracing the notion of "texts" as socially, historically, and culturally situated practices, of which the written text is but one product, we can conjoin the basic literacy of reading and writing with a broader range of visual, aural, and spatial signifying acts. Understood in this way, the arts become a source and stimulus for not only textual analysis and communicative exchange, but also subjective response and emotional experience. In other words, by interacting with art--evaluating, interpreting, experiencing, embodying, and even producing it, in any one of its many forms--learners can understand culture as a process in which they are motivated to participate as subjects. This process can deepen the cognitive, social, aesthetic, and subjective dimensions of language learning. While many new instructors have interest or expertise in the use of one or more art forms, we cannot assume that they know how to incorporate the arts in their lesson plans. Our teacher training programs, therefore, have the potential to be transformative sites, where the concept of foreign language literacy and literacies takes shape through effectively varied pedagogical practices. This volume will not only provide a concrete vision for approaches to materials and learning goals, but also suggest directions for teacher training and long-term professional development for integrating the arts.  (


Integrating the Arts: Creative Thinking about FL Curricula and Language Program Direction. A co-edited volume (with Lisa Parkes, Harvard U.) exploring various theoretical and practical approaches to integrating the formal study of various artistic genres with the study of foreign languages. American Association of University Supervisors and Coordinators, Vol. 20, Cengage, 2015.