Classroom with two teachers at the front

Arts-Rich EAL/D Language and Literacy Learning

Professional development and arts-rich co-teaching for English language learning
A program of creative, arts-rich pedagogies to support teachers in nurturing EAL/D (English as an Additional Language or Dialect) students’ confidence, sense of identity and literacy learning.

Program features

  • Drama, visual arts and other arts-learning experiences, with quality literature to enhance learner confidence, sense of identity, and deep literacy learning
  • Includes one-day introductory teacher workshop
  • Focussed, high-quality professional learning
  • Regular co-teaching in classrooms with a teaching artist with expertise in this program
  • Evaluative research exploring the effectiveness of the program

Anticipated outcomes

  • Enhanced teacher knowledge of and confidence in embedding Arts-Rich pedagogies in their professional practice
  • Improved social and emotional wellbeing and English and literacy outcomes for ALL learners
  • Improved learner motivation and engagement
  • A sense of belonging and inclusion for EAL/D learners "including those from refugee backgrounds" demonstrated through the honouring and inclusion of all the linguistic resources of students in classroom interactions.

Our approach

The CREATE Centre offers this Arts-Rich EAL/D program with a dual focus: teacher professional learning through a co-mentoring model (Ewing, 2006, 2002) and a co-designed intervention for learners employing culturally responsive (Morrison, 2019) Arts-Rich pedagogies (Ewing, 2019) to enable the development of a translanguaging space (Li Wei, 2014).

Learners’ self-expression (Green, 1995) is celebrated, as the program specifically encourages the use of all learners’ linguistic resources (D’warte, 2021 & 2014; Slaughter & Cross, 2021) to enhance deep literacy learning. Quality literature, drama, visual arts, music and movement experiences are embedded in the learning experiences. The teachers first engage in Arts-Rich workshops and then co-plan and team teach with teaching artists in their classrooms once a fortnight over a semester.

The research questions the program aims to address include:

  • How can we build teacher capacity to support EAL/D learners through Arts-Rich pedagogy?
  • Do quality Arts-Rich processes and experiences provide a high level of support for learning English for EAL/D learners?
  • Does introducing EAL/D learners to Arts-Rich strategies and processes nurture their social and emotional wellbeing?

Strategic alignment

The program addresses the NSW Department of Education’s strategic values of excellence, equity and integrity. It will improve learners’ social and emotional wellbeing, engagement in learning and academic achievement.



Cost per school

Whole day group teacher workshop excluding catering


Teaching artist per class workshop (includes planning, 4 workshops x 2hrs, debriefing) and project management



Cost (for individual school dependent on number of schools involved

Project management


Evaluative research


Evidence for the program

An extensive body of international and Australian research demonstrates unequivocally that there is a well-established relationship between learning through quality arts processes and experiences, language learning, literacy and literacy development (For example: Saunders & Ewing 2022; Dutton, D’warte, Rossbridge & Rushton,2018; Miller & Saxton, 2016; 2004; O’Toole & Dunn, 2015; Cremin, 2014; Winner et al, 2013; Ewing, 2010, 2006; 2016; O’Mara, 2004; Baldwin & Fleming, 2003; Fiske, 1999; McMaster, 1998).

The relationships between Arts-Rich pedagogies and deep literacy learning are especially relevant and compelling for EAL/D learners (Beaumont, 2022; Mcatamney, 2021; Dutton & Rushton, 2022, 2021 & 2018). For example, process-based drama reduces language anxiety in the language learning classroom, enabling more spontaneous and sustained communication, fluency and confidence among learners (Piazzoli, 2011). The EAL/D learner is an active participant in telling their stories, celebrating their identities and creating possible worlds (Dutton, D’warte, Rossbridge & Rushton, 2018). They can also use their linguistic and cultural abilities and knowledge in a variety of ways (Schewe, 2013). In addition, learners’ creativities and imaginations are nurtured, and empathy and compassion, with other personal dispositions and capabilities, are fostered alongside literacy through the artistic processes and experiences inherent in Arts-Rich pedagogies (for example, Gibson & Ewing, 2020; Saunders, 2019; Dunn & Stinson, 2012).

Lead researchers

Contact us

Eliza Oliver