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The teaching, learning and testing of te reo Māori in tertiary institutions in Aotearoa/New Zealand

Additional language teaching and learning is fraught with problems the world over and Aotearoa/New Zealand is not immune to these issues. This doctoral research investigates current practices of teaching and learning te reo Māori (the Māori language) as an additional language in tertiary educational institutions and explores the appropriacy of measuring the language proficiency of speakers and learners of te reo Māori by using a variation of the C-test principle. The first chapter (Chapter One) sets the context by providing an overview of post-colonial historical events in Aotearoa/New Zealand that led to a language shift which would result in many Māori learning te reo Māori as a second language. The literature review (Chapter Two) provides an historical overview of additional language teaching methods and approaches since the 18th century and critiques some language teaching methods/approaches – found to be outdated, teacher-centred and/or too limited in scope – that are currently used to teach the Māori language in tertiary institutions. The next two chapters report on responses from a questionnaire-based survey (Chapter Three) and semi-structured interviews (Chapter Four) with tertiary teachers of te reo Māori, which found that most teachers are largely untrained and unqualified in the area of additional language teaching and learning. The chapter that follows (Chapter Five) provides an analysis of a textbook series – reported to be the most widely used Māori language resources in tertiary institutions – which was found to be largely influenced by an eclectic approach to textbook design that includes grammar translation and audiolingual methods. For the next chapter (Chapter Six), the development of a particular type of Māori language proficiency test (variant C-test) is discussed, along with the findings and results of its trial, which was done, firstly, with a sample of highly proficient speakers of te reo and, secondly, with a small sample of second language learners of te reo, prior to a pilot of the test which was conducted with a second sample of tertiary learners of te reo Māori. While analyses of test scores reveal that satisfactory reliability coefficients were obtained, more research is required, not only to investigate the validity of this particular C-test variant, but also to further explore the appropriacy of applying the (variant) C-test principle to measuring general Māori language proficiency. This chapter (Chapter Six) concludes with a discussion of the questionnaire responses about the educational backgrounds, language backgrounds, motivations and attitudes of the samples of learners, approximately half of whom are additional language learners and the other half of whom have been raised with te reo Māori as (one of) their main language. An overview of the research findings and its limitations is provided in the final chapter (Chapter Seven), along with potential contributions of the research and further recommendations for future research. The challenge that each issue raised in this thesis places on teachers, students and the revitalisation movement of te reo Māori in tertiary institutions, is one which needs to be further explored and addressed.
Type of thesis
Tihema, N. L. A. (2018). The teaching, learning and testing of te reo Māori in tertiary institutions in Aotearoa/New Zealand (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/11920
The University of Waikato
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