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Pacific languages

Pasifika language learning

Kia orana. Fakaalofa lahi atu. Mālō e lelei. Tālofa lava. Talofa ni.

Learning languages in a school setting involves developing learners’ capabilities for both learning language and using language to communicate across cultural boundaries.

Students appreciate the deep connections between language and culture and how they work together to express values and meaning in particular ways.

Developing capacity

As they learn to communicate in another language, students develop their capacity to acquire other languages and to explore different world views in relation to their own.

In doing so, they learn more about themselves and their own identities. As they interact with speakers of other languages, they gain knowledge, skills, and attitudes that equip them to live in a world of diverse peoples, languages, and cultures. This, in turn, enables them to make a positive contribution.

Perspectives

Intercultural language learning expert Michael Byram writes:

“An intercultural speaker is someone who can operate their linguistic competence and their sociolinguistic awareness of the relationship between language and the context in which it is used, in order to manage interaction across cultural boundaries, to anticipate misunderstandings caused by difference in values, meanings and beliefs, and thirdly, to cope with the affective as well as cognitive demands and engagement with otherness.”

Language enhancing the achievement of Pasifika

The LEAP resource brings together key aspects of research about how to support bilingual Pasifika students’ learning, especially in relation to students’ Pasifika languages and English. The resource suggests ways in which teachers can:

  • explore, in practical ways, language teaching and learning principles effective for working with bilingual Pasifika students
  • address the particular learning needs of their bilingual Pasifika students
  • enhance the academic achievement of bilingual Pasifika students in mainstream New Zealand classrooms.


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