Aro Mai Aro Atu: Raising Māori-medium students' academic oral language proficiency
Permanent link to Research Commons versionhttps://hdl.handle.net/10289/15656
From the early 1860s, colonial governments worked systematically to eradicate the language and culture of the indigenous people of Aotearoa / New Zealand, and, by the late 1960s, the death of the Māori language was being predicted by leading linguists. Māori leaders responded in the 1980s with language regeneration initiatives that included the birth of Māori-medium education. Today, this uniquely indigenous education system is a significant site of language learning for new generations of Māori children. In Māori-medium education, children are nurtured, educated, and loved as Māori, and they are more likely to attain educational qualifications than their Māori peers who attend English-medium schools. The success of Māori-medium education is achieved in the face of a raft of ongoing challenges that teachers and students confront on a daily basis. Years of language marginalisation, including the disruption to intergenerational transfer, mean Māori-medium students are required to learn the curriculum through their second and less-developed language. They have limited opportunities to hear or use the Māori language outside of the school, and this places huge pressure on teachers who are often their most significant language models. The challenge is compounded by the limited education that has been made available to teachers in relation to second-language pedagogies specifically designed for Māori-medium classrooms. The resulting situation is that Māori-medium teachers are often left struggling to find ways that they can develop students’ Māori language proficiency at the same time as their curriculum achievement so that one is not sacrificed for the other. This study designed and trialled pedagogies to support Māori-medium students to develop their academic oral language proficiency at the same time as their curriculum achievement. It was a mixed methods study grounded in a kaupapa Māori approach, and involved three teachers and 24 students across three separate Māori-medium schools. An Anga Putanga Ako (Curriculum Outcomes Matrix) was developed to support the students to understand what they needed to learn to progress through the writing curriculum. Teachers then learnt to share explicit learning outcomes from the Anga Putanga Ako with students before lessons and to allow them time to discuss their achievement of those outcomes in pairs at the conclusion of those lessons. Linguistic scaffolds were developed to support students’ learning conversations, including the self and peer assessment of the learning outcomes, and decisions about their curriculum achievement levels and next learning steps. The quantitative and qualitative results of the study revealed that the confluence of the self and peer assessment practices, supported by the Anga Putanga Ako and linguistic scaffolds, improved the students’ academic oral language and accelerated their reading and writing achievement significantly beyond what is usually expected in a Māori-medium classroom in 14 weeks. The study also found that, through implementing the self and peer assessment pedagogies, teachers were able to identify ways they could develop their students’ academic language and curriculum achievement simultaneously and how these approaches could be applied across the curriculum. It was clear from the research results that pedagogies that support second-language development and curriculum learning, such as the self and peer assessment pedagogies demonstrated in this study, need to be explicitly taught with consistency across initial and in-service teacher education programmes. This development is necessary to help ensure Māori-medium students are supported with the thinking and linguistic skills needed to contribute to the creation of new knowledge, to support or challenge the current social order as they see fit, and to continue to transfer the Māori language to new generations of mokopuna.
The University of Waikato
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