Drama and critical intercultural language pedagogy


  • Jenna Nilson Arizona State University




Process Drama, English language learning, ethics, Youth Participatory Action Research, critical intercultural language pedagogy


This article discusses findings from a research project with emergent bilingual youth in Phoenix, Arizona. This project focused on how critical intercultural language pedagogy impacts how and what methods of performative language teaching drama and language practitioners employ in the English as an Additional Language (EAL) class through engaging aspects of a Youth Participatory Action Research methodology (YPAR) and through taking a Mantle of the Expert approach in a process drama. The article uses Tania Cañas’s Manifesto “10 things you need to consider if you are an artist not of the refugee and asylum seeker community- looking to work with our community” to situate how this project sought to examine ethical process when working with language minoritized youth in the context of English language learning in the United States. Cañas (2015) argues that artists need to examine how their project methodologies promote equitable exchange, as well as how their participation frameworks situate power. In relation to the above points in Cañas’s Manifesto, the article discusses findings from the research project, and examines how effectively the project considered equitable exchange and power dynamics within the context of language learning. Findings relate how drama practitioners and language teachers must critically reflect on and focus their students’ choice and decision-making throughout the process, as well as seek to meaningfully incorporate students’ linguistic capacities in both English and their first languages.

Author Biography

Jenna Nilson, Arizona State University

Jenna Nilson holds a Masters in Fine Arts in Theatre for Youth and Communities from Arizona State University (ASU’2021). Her focus lies in developing performative and culturally sustaining pedagogies for teaching and learning second languages. She has worked as an Artist-in-Residence for Asphalt Arts, a community cultural development program run through the Institute for Design and the Arts at ASU and as a Teaching Artist with the Phoenix, Arizona school district leading drama-based workshops with English language learners. She is currently an English language teacher in Madrid, Spain.


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