Language learning through spoken word choreographies in upper secondary school: Exploring entanglements between languaging and dancing

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The potential of arts-based pedagogies in language education has long been discussed, and recent studies have indicated that arts-based pedagogies can support various areas of language learning, strengthen motivation, create enjoyment, and make language pedagogy creative, affective, and vibrant (e.g., Fleming, 2021; Waterhouse, 2021). Adding to previous research on arts-based pedagogies to language learning and teaching, this study explores entanglements of dance and Swedish language learning when doing spoken word choreographies in the voluntary course “Dance with language” at a Finnish-speaking upper secondary school.
This study focuses on spoken word choreographies as a central activity within the course. Experimenting with the logic of spoken word, the word- and dance-based choreographies were created in relations between human bodies (e.g., students and dance teacher) and non-human things (e.g., texts, films, papers, pens), intermingling Swedish and Finnish language use and moving the language learning into different school spaces. To explore the processes of doing spoken word choreographies and to acknowledge language/languaging as relational, embodied, and material (Toohey, 2019), the study engages theoretically with Barad’s (2007) agential realist theory and Deleuze and Guattari’s (1987/2013) philosophy of immanence. Two analytic questions motivate the analysis: (1) How do language/languaging and dance/dancing become entangled when doing spoken word choreographies? and (2) How do the entanglements between language/languaging and dance/dancing make a difference and what are their effects on language pedagogy? The spoken word choreography activity lasted six lessons. In small groups, the students created spoken word choreographies based on sentences they had chosen from the dance documentary Juck – a dance and performance group based in Sweden. Using a thinking with theory approach with arts-based research strategies, a preliminary analysis suggests that language/languaging and dance/dancing became entangled through different doings: exploring movements with sentences from Juck; re-working the sentences with/in dancing; co-creating with audio-recordings; and negotiating with spaces and materials. This paper presents the results of the study and discusses how they matter for arts-integrated pedagogies in language education within a Nordic and international context.
Period16 Mar 2023
Event titleNERA Nordic Education Research Association: Digitalization and Technologies in Education - Opportunities and Challenges
Event typeConference
LocationOslo, NorwayShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational