Arts-based Curricula for Heritage Language Development and Maintenance

  • Author / Creator
    Onita, Adriana
  • Most immigrants and refugees lose their Heritage Language (HL) within one to three generations of moving to Canada. This study addresses a major gap in language education research about the potential of arts-based curricula to support the HL development and maintenance (HLDM) of multilingual youth in Canada and counter rapid HL loss. Anchored within an arts-based research paradigm (Conrad & Beck, 2015), the study explores two research questions: 1) What contributions might arts-based curricula make to our understanding of HL development and maintenance in Alberta? and 2) How might arts-based practices support Spanish HL youth learners’ language and literacy experiences and aspirations? Informing this study are theoretical commitments to Sociocultural Theory (Bronfenbrenner, 1979) and Multiliteracies Theory (New London Group, 1996), pedagogical commitments to Transformative Multiliteracies Pedagogy (Cummins, 2009) and Meaningful Literacy Instruction (Hanauer, 2012), and methodological commitments to community arts-based research (Barndt, 2008; Cahnmann-Taylor, 2008; Conrad & Beck, 2015) and Poetic Inquiry (Sameshima et al., 2017). The two research questions were explored through a case study of a month-long digital Spanish Art Camp in August 2020 with nine participating Spanish HL youth learners aged 13-18. Data collection included pre- and post-camp individual semi-structured interviews, participants’ multimedia artworks, their online interactions on Zoom and Slack, our recorded individual and group art sessions, and my observations and arts-based field-notes. Data revealed how arts-based curricula (such as self-portraiture, bilingual poetry, protest art, illustration, photography, video, animation, and painting) can support the literacy and language development of HL youth, facilitate identity exploration and relationship building in the HL, and boost learner engagement and motivation. Being the first study of its kind in Canada to creatively combine HLDM and arts-based research, it presents an original contribution to language education research. In addition, the study includes a rich contextual

    chapter, where Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory (1979) is used to trace three chronosystems in Canada’s history in relation to HL policies, planning, programs, and practices. It also features a unique literature review of 96 studies pertaining to language learning through the arts, revealing the gaps in research on youth HL development and maintenance through the arts in Canada.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2022
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.