Applied theatre with students with refugee backgrounds: Pedagogical considerations for TESOL settings


School of Conflict Management, Peacebuilding and Development

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This article presents select findings from a case study about applied theatre at a school for girls with refugee backgrounds in the United States. The data were collected through direct observations, semi-structured interviews, and analysis of students' work. The study uses an intersectional analysis to explore relationships between gender, race, heritage cultures, and language use in arts-based activities. The author describes one assignment in which students researched a woman from history and then wrote and performed a first-person monologue from this person's point of view. The researcher discusses ways that the assignment's structure limited students' choices about whom to learn about and portray. In particular, the assignment centered gender over other aspects of students' identities related to heritage cultures, heritage languages, and race. Findings are also reported from interviews with students about how they navigated these parameters and their experiences as writers and performers. Finally, the author considers ways audiences may shape the narratives students are encouraged to tell. Findings highlight ways arts-based practices directly and indirectly influenced the narratives students with refugee backgrounds created and performed in their resettlement community. The author concludes by discussing implications for arts-based practices for teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL).

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TESOL Journal

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