Date of Graduation

Winter 12-12-2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)


School of Education


International and Multicultural Education (IME)

First Advisor

Brad Washington


Artists’ voices are disproportionately being excluded from international discourse because current English language education does not adequately serve this population of learners. This study was conducted as a catalyst for inquiry into the most effective ways artists acquire English so as to inform the development of curricula and programs to address their language learning needs. This study’s theoretical framework is created by Long’s (1981) interaction hypothesis and Skehan’s (1996) theory of task-based learning. The author proposes that artists’ English language learning experiences would be more fruitful if they were patterned after the interactions to which they are accustomed in their professional art-making world as well as if they are centered around tasks that are also familiar from their professional training and practice. Piaget’s (1973) theory of social constructivism informed the methodology of this study.

Data was collected from six adult artists through participatory interviews. Participating artists originate from France, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and Ukraine. Their disciplines include glass sculpture, painting, drawing, photography, digital graphics, performance, sculptural installation work, and music. Results of the study support the author’s hypothesis. Participants described their most effective language learning experiences to be those in which they engaged with the language to reach artistic goals and engage in community. These experiences provide substantial motivation, transferability, and background knowledge to create a fertile context for language acquisition. The author’s conclusions suggest, among other things, that further research needs to be done to extend the scope of application of the results.