Dance fulfils several educational purposes, particularly in the context of second language teaching and learning. Nevertheless, challenges to implementing dance as an approach to teach and learn a second language do exist. For teachers, it is essential to develop varied pedagogical approaches to suit different student cohorts. But it is not reasonable to expect that every language teacher is a born expert and connoisseur of dance or every dance teacher a born expert and connoisseur of the target language. Moreover, we have not seen studies focus on the development of the pedagogy of using dance as an approach for teaching and learning a second language. In this article, we assembled autoethnography and educational connoisseurship and criticism to investigate Nan’s experience through the process of generating descriptive narration, interrogating reflective analysis, evaluating understandings, and discerning themes. The themes discussed were communicative and intercultural competence, language acquisition and immersion, cognitive learning transfer, and multiple accesses. This study offers empirical evidence for the benefits that dance activities can make to students’ second language competence development and affords pedagogical insights for teachers who want to employ dance as an approach to teach a second language.


autoethnography, educational connoisseurship and criticism, movement, Chinese cultural dance, second language education

Author Bio(s)

Nan Zhang completed her Bachelor of Arts degree and Master of Arts degree in China at the Beijing Dance Academy. Currently, she is a Ph.D. candidate in the Faculty of Education at Monash University. Her research interests include multiculturalism, Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL), dance and language education. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to Nan Zhang: nan.zhang@monash.edu.

Dr. Jane Southcott is a professor, Faculty of Education, Monash University, Australia. Jane researches community engagement with music and cultural identity focusing on positive ageing. Jane supervises many postgraduate research students. She is Past President of the Australian and New Zealand Association for Research in Music Education and Co-editor of the International Journal of Music Education and on the editorial boards of international refereed journals.

Dr. Maria Gindidis is a senior lecturer in Teacher Education. She coordinates large core units in the B.Ed. Honours teaching degrees at Monash University. Maria’s research interests are in EAL, Languages, School Leadership, Multiliteracies and Teaching informed by Neuroscience principles. She includes in her areas of expertise, curriculum design, teacher cognitive coaching, Languages (CLIL), and school improvement.


I would like to express my sincere gratitude to my supervisors, Dr Maria Gindidis and Professor Jane Southcott, for their insightful advice and encouragement of my PhD study. Their continuous support and guidance helped me all the way in researching and writing this article.

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