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Students learning English as an additional language (EAL) in Australian schools frequently struggle with the cultural and linguistic demands of the classroom while concurrently grappling with issues of identity and belonging. This article reports on an investigation of the role primary school visual arts programs, distinct programs with a specialist teacher, in a designated art room, can play in supporting EAL students’ identity construction and social transition. At six Melbourne primary schools, classroom observations and teacher and student interviews revealed that the visual art programs offer clear possibilities for enhanced and empowered constructions of identity. This article focuses on four students as case studies, highlighting the powerful role visual arts programs, classrooms and teachers can play in EAL learners’ identity construction. On a personal and societal level, identity construction and a positive sense of self are essential in our current era of increased linguistic and cultural pluralism, and this study offers insights into how these inclusive goals can be achieved.

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Journal Article

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