English & Photography: an interesting pair

I have recently come across an article posted on the WBFO News website entitled “English learners gain confidence using photography”.  The article talks about a program that a school in Buffalo, NY instilled called Writing with Light that lets students “work with words, poetry, and photography” to better tell stories and help them learn the English language.  The articles discusses how this program is especially beneficial to students learning English as a second language.

Noah Falck, a former ELA teacher in Ohio that now works with this program in Buffalo said, “These projects brought professional writers, book artists and photographers into schools across the city, working with a total of 707 students and 34 classroom teachers,”  Noah works alongside CEPA gallery, a gallery which presents some of the students’ work when they complete them.

Barbara Cole, Just Buffalo Artistic Director said, “We wish that you could you all witness the power in seeing an English Language Learner hesitant at first to read in front of the microphone but finding the courage to confidently proclaim her words.”  This specifically stood out to me, because I think it is so important for schools to challenge the normal means of educating the English language, especially to ESL students, and presenting them with new means to incorporate their new language in with art.

This idea of incorporating art with a new language can really help and encourage a student to step out of their comfort zone, and be able to express themselves without the fear of a language barrier, meanwhile at the same time, learning that new language in a fresh, new way.  Perhaps combining an art form with English can help students to feel more inspired to learn this new language, while sparking a creative interest alongside it.

Do you agree that using an art form, or a new style of teaching, can truly help a student who is perhaps struggling? The school’s superintendent Pamela Brown stated, “It’s a source of motivation, I think, for them to be exposed to photography and to be able to combine that with learning to write. It’s a very, very complex skill. And so, the more that we can motivate children to want to do it and to appreciate their own writing, the more successful they will be,”

What are your thoughts?




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