It’s a global challenge when learning about a language when culture is not an indispensable topic in our education system and society, but yet “intercultural understanding” is a valuable capability for the Australian school framework, the question we will need to ask is: How intercultural understanding is a thriving topic to our children’s education?
According to The Australian Curriculum (ACARA 2019), “Intercultural Understanding, is to describe as to how students learn to value their own cultures, languages, beliefs and those of others”. “General Capabilities”, provides teachers to give the ideas about how they might teach the content in their classroom. But when it comes to intercultural understanding capabilities there still some absence of professional training to principals and teachers in this area. In this context, despite building a national curriculum that has agreed minimum standards of learning standards that every student should have at the end of each cycle, ACARA does not determine specific guidelines on how this learning should be conducted in any area of knowledge, as already indicated because ‘School authorities make decisions about the allocation of time and other resources’.
According to, “Doing Diversity Intercultural Understanding in primary and secondary school” report research findings (2016) found the key changes to build intercultural capacity in schools includes “structured, on-going, professional learning focused on increasing knowledge and the pedagogical and leadership skills needed to implement the intercultural capabilities across all areas of schooling”.
Of course, the acquisition of developing students artistic towards the enhancement of creative, aesthetic and emotional skills are present within “The Arts” of the Australian educational system, which includes Dance, Drama, Media Arts, Music and Visual Arts. Angela Gardner author of The Case for Integrating Dance in the Language Classroom discuss about the importance of integrating dance to children when learning a language and how integrating an authentic dance classroom experience supports the context of language acquisition.
If we consider dance as an integral and relevant aspect of a culture, we must consider the importance that it bears on our language curriculum. The cultural benefits of dance in the classroom can include a deeper understanding of the history, geography, music, clothing, motion, behaviours related to dance and the country. There are many forms of dance and many components that can illuminate cultural values.
“Dance connect children with the art of this world – Culture!” – Valeria Alonso.
Award winner of Young Latin American Entrepreneur by Department of Foreign and Trade Valeria Alonso, strongly believes that dance offers the opportunity to empower children and the intercultural understanding context in Australia.
According to a website from the International Society of Teachers of Dancing (2009), “Dance is a fun way to open up new possibilities”. Valeria is the managing director of El Ritmo, specialising in teaching children’s Latin dance and cultural programs through dancing, she believes that dancing provides an additional opportunity to connect language to movement. In songs such as Jennifer Lopez’s “Ven a Bailar,” instructions are integrated in the song, such as “Salta, ven a bailar… no, no pares, sigue, ven...” “Jump, come and dance,.. no, don’t you stop, keep going, come on...” Such instructions offer the opportunity for students to jump and dance the steps, following directions as provided in the music. Or, in “Danza Kuduro,” listeners hear “con la mano arriba…mueve la cabeza…” “with a hand up… move your head…” Similarly, students can respond by putting hands up and moving their heads.
The curriculum focus is on learning to be intercultural rather than merely learning about ethnic and cultural diversity. Implementing “Dance” is a way of innovations tool to ensure authentic intercultural learning experiences is given for students. Embedding intercultural experts in our schools, such as ‘intercultural artist’ is a must to thrive intercultural understanding learning into our classrooms.
El Ritmo, South American Dance Academy
Exploring Latin culture through dance, Valeria is an experienced performing arts, sport and recreation leader who has worked in the education and dance sector for over 10 years.
With experience in business, children’s education, senior management, sports and recreation, event delivery and entrepreneurship, Valeria has a passion and a strong commitment to education through dance and language. She is the Founder of El Ritmo, South American Dance Academy which is designed to encourage children to understand and comprehend the different dance styles taught in South America while acquiring knowledge of the countries and traditions through learning how to dance.