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National symbols

Learning Area: English  РThe ArtsAustralian National Curriculum InformationAustralian National Curriculum Information
Age Group: Secondary Lower (13-14) – Secondary Middle (15-16)


Students explore symbols of nationalism and consider their relevance today.


Each country has its own national symbols chosen for various reasons at various times in history. With the growing sense of global responsibility are the sentiments these symbols promote relevant or even desirable?

Worksheets to download

Suggested activities

1. Download Notes [RTF]

  1. Read Notes and as a class, discuss national symbols, their use and origins.
  2. What is Australia’s flag, coat of arms, national anthem and floral and fauna emblems. What are their origins? Why and when were they chosen?
  3. Do they portray Australia and s today?
  4. Are they appropriate for Australia today?

2. Visit National Anthems and choose a country.

  1. Double click on the flag to play the anthem. Listen carefully. What sentiments does the music evoke? Is it sentimental, emotional, stirring, evocative, warlike etc Is the melody easy to remember? Play it several times. Can you hum along with it?
  2. Read the lyrics. What sentiments do they evoke? Are the lyrics patriotic? Are they stirring? Do they ask a god for protection for their country, their monarchy or government or themselves? Do they sing the praises of God, their monarchy or government or the motherland? Are they a call to arms? Do they record a struggle or victory? What is their main purpose? As a class classify and list the anthems according to main purpose or sentiment.
  3. When was the anthem adopted? Research the history of the country at that time. How might contemporary events have influenced the lyrics and the music? Do you think lyrics should be changed to be more relevant to a country’s current circumstances?
  4. Do you think national symbols and national anthems in particular, influence the way we consider and sometimes stereotype people? As the world becomes smaller should nationalism and patriotism be encouraged or should we have a more global approach?

Additional strategies

  • Write a personal, family, class, club or school anthem, or design a coat of arms or flag.
  • What events would you recount or represent?
  • What values would you want to promote or exhibit?
  • Would it be a permanent symbol or would it evolve with time?
  • Present your symbol to the class and explain the symbolism.

Related resources

Australian Flag

Date: 01 March 2004