Invitation to contribute to a special issue Arts and embodiment in language education


Guest editors: 

Sofia Jusslin, Ed.D., University Lecturer in Swedish and Literature Education, Åbo Akademi University;

Niina Lilja, Professor in Expert Communication, University of Tampere;

Eeva Anttila, Professor in Dance Pedagogy, University of the Arts Helsinki.


Deadline for abstract submissions August 31, 2023 (max 300 word abstracts to be sent to Sofia Jusslin

This special issue addresses how engagement in the arts and arts-based activities can promote language learning. There has recently been an increasing interest in the arts in applied linguistics research, i.e. the branch of linguistics involved in finding solutions to real-world problems. Previous research points towards the value and benefits of arts-based approaches to language learning. In such research, arts integration is a key concept, referring to the transdisciplinary pedagogical approach of integrating the arts with learning in another subject (e.g., language). Arts-based approaches can support different areas of language use and learning, strengthen motivation, and create enjoyment. This points to valuable aspects for language learning, where common challenges encompass questions about how language learners can become motivated, inspired, and actively engaged in language education. This special issue proposes that language learning through the arts can constitute a possible response to calls to make language learning inspiring, motivating, holistic, and vibrant.

The existing research on combining the arts and language learning can be categorized into three broad categories: research with, into, and through arts (see Bradley and Harvey 2019). Research engaging with arts examines the semiotics of art products and questions the primacy of verbal language in meaning-making and creating knowledge. Research into arts focuses on artistic practice and on the processes of making art and the role of language in this. Research through arts, on the other hand, uses arts-informed methods to communicate with the research participants and to create new understanding. In Finland, for example, a recent special issue edited by Pöyhönen and Paulasto (2020) discusses creative inquiry in applied linguistics and showcases studies engaging with different artforms, such as music, dance, and visual arts.

This special issue is concerned with both research into and through arts. We aim to continue the discussion started by Pöyhönen and Paulasto (2020) with a specific focus on the role of embodiment in both artistic practice and arts-based approaches to language learning and teaching. Connections between embodiment, arts, and language learning have been identified in previous empirical research (e.g., Jusslin et al., 2022). However, there is a need for more research that explores the intertwinement of embodiment and arts in nurturing, expanding, and enriching language learning. We welcome contributions based on the authors’ own arts-based practices as well as contributions analyzing arts-based activities relevant for language learning and teaching.

We invite original empirical, theoretical, and methodological articles (max 8000 words) and shorter submissions (max 2000 words) that explore transdisciplinary and arts-based approaches to language learning practices in different educational contexts. Such a transdisciplinary approach can encompass a number of different art forms and be implemented from early childhood education to higher education and beyond to informal language learning practices. To further pursue the potentials of the arts and embodiment in language education, we see this special issue as a forum for research that investigates how different arts-based approaches with an emphasis on embodiment can contribute to language learning. With this special issue, we encourage the investigation of questions like: How can the arts contribute to language learning practices? What kind of opportunities and challenges do arts-based pedagogical approaches bring to language education? How can the arts promote language learning for linguistically diverse groups? What methodological approaches are appropriate for analysing arts integration? How does arts-based research influence conceptions of language and language learning?

The target group for the special issue is researchers within applied linguistics, language education, and arts education who are specifically interested in arts-based approaches and embodiment in various language learning practices. The articles can be written in English, Finnish, or Swedish.


Deadline for abstract submissions August 31, 2023 (to be sent to Sofia Jusslin

15.9.2023: Notifications of acceptance

31.1.2024: Deadline for full articles for editorial evaluation and peer-review

15.3. 2024: Deadline for peer-reviews and editorial comments to the authors

1.9.2024: Deadline for final submissions

December 2024: Planned publishing date