Maori language immersion in classes

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Teachers and children in indigenous language immersion classrooms around the world will benefit from an international partnership involving the University of Canterbury.

Aotahi – School of Maori and Indigenous Studies (Aotahi) at the University of Canterbury was invited to participate in the international Comparative Language Input Programme, developed by professor William O’Grady and his team from the Department of Linguistics at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa.

CLIP is the first comparative study of adult speech to children in language immersion programmes. CLIP analyses recordings of indigenous language used by teachers in the classroom from several countries to assess what language children are being exposed to.

CLIP is jointly funded by the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa and the Smithsonian Institution.

Professor O’Grady says it is widely agreed that the quantity (i.e., the number of words) and quality (i.e., the number of different words) to which language learners are exposed has a major impact on their linguistic development.

“By gathering and analysing information from different immersion programmes, it will be possible to identify the extent of the variation in language use in immersion programmes and, eventually, to determine the impact of this variation on the success of those programmes – a key goal of work on language revitalisation.”

“The inclusion of a Maori immersion programme, widely recognised as among the best in the Indigenous language immersion classrooms benefit from partnership world, in the CLIP research gives scholars a baseline against which to measure other immersion programmes in communities around the world, including Scotland, the Philippines, and Latin America.

UC Ahorangi | Professor Jeanette King of Aotahi says Aotearoa New Zealand’s kohanga reo and kura kaupapa immersion schools have an excellent reputation globally and a great deal to contribute to international knowledge.

“There is a lot of immersion teaching of indigenous languages happening around the world, but a lot of people setting up programmes in various countries don’t have a lot of information about the quantity or quality of the language input needed to be effective.”

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