Bilingual and cross-cultural education in the arts

by Mark Elshout and Desta Haile | 29 May 2020 | Posted in: Curriculum

In this month’s Curriculum article we explore the work of two educators who use the performing arts as an integrative approach to learning languages, performing arts and more. Interdisciplinary learning structures in these two contexts offer much to learners and allow students to gain knowledge and understanding through active learning contexts.


Mark Elshout
Keystone Academy’s interdisciplinary Performing and Chinese Arts programmes

Keystone Academy has a thriving arts programme that proudly makes the most of the Chinese cultural experience in our local setting whilst also offering programmes aligned with the International Primary Curriculum (IPC) and IB curriculum programmes.

Keystone Academy is at essence a Chinese school that reinforces its cultural focus with five shared Confucian values. At primary school students move in grade K-2 through a programme predominantly taught in Chinese. By grade 3-5 they are learning a programme that equates to 50% in English and 50% in Chinese.

Where the performing arts are concerned, for primary education, the students attend music and drama both in English and in Chinese. The Chinese teachers deliver a programme with a Chinese cultural focus, teaching Chinese instruments in music and Chinese dramatic techniques in drama. The Western teachers teach a programme more closely aligned with an American performing arts programme.

At secondary school, as students move through the MYP and the DP, they also participate in Chinese arts courses to see that they are experiencing not only what is important to maintaining understanding of their own culture but to see that students are able to draw connections between what happens around them and what happens outside of China.

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