Sunday, November 13, 2011

Why learn Maori? (and how to do so)

This article appeared in today's New Zealand Herald.  It focuses on making Te Reo Maori compulsory in New Zealand schools.  Many of the comments that follow it state that there is little point in learning the language, and look for barriers, such as funding and relevance as reasons not to.

The article starts:

'The use of the words "compulsory" and "Maori language" in the same sentence is enough to get some people's blood running hot. But the Maori Party policy announced this week is carefully worded: it wants te reo "compulsorily available" in schools by 2015'.

I strongly believe that Maori should be taught in New Zealand schools, with these reasons for learning a second language from The American Council of Teaching supporting my view:

  • Has a positive effect on intellectual growth.
  • Enriches and enhances a child's mental development.
  • Leaves students with more flexibility in thinking, greater sensitivity to language, and a better ear for listening.
  • Improves a child's understanding of his/her native language.
  • Gives a child the ability to communicate with people s/he would otherwise not have the chance to know.
  • Opens the door to other cultures and helps a child understand and appreciate people from other countries.
  • Gives a student a head start in language requirements for college.
  • Increases job opportunities in many careers where knowing another language is a real asset.
There are numerous websites that promote and enable the speaking of Te Reo Maori.  Two being my own site 'Let's learn Te Reo Maori' (a bit of self promotion here), and the excellent 'Toku Reo' series.

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