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New road safety kit for overseas students

1 February 2006

New road safety kit for overseas students

New Zealand road rules and safety tips have been incorporated into English lessons in a ground-breaking road safety kit launched today for overseas language students.

From video skits featuring the adventures of two overseas students, to a board game taking players around city streets and country roads, the ‘On the Road’ educational kit transforms New Zealand driving culture and road safety techniques into material for English language classes.

Funded by the Road Safety Trust and developed in consultation with Land Transport New Zealand, the kit is available free to English language schools nationwide.

Land Transport NZ Education Manager Rachel Irving said the kit had great potential to reduce the risk of overseas students coming to grief on the roads.

“Using road safety as a context for learning English is an ideal way to help them gain a better understanding of New Zealand road rules and responsibilities,” she said.

Ms Irving said Land Transport NZ had a track record of success in the field, having helped primary schools around the country integrate road safety subject matter into the everyday curriculum with the Roadsense Ata Haere programme.

On the Road is the brainchild of English language teacher Etain McDonnell, who developed it in response to a number of serious accidents involving overseas students.

“Overseas students are at increased risk of being involved an accident because they are unfamiliar with our road rules and driving conditions. Schools run orientation programmes for new students but the information doesn’t always sink in. We hope that by creating lessons with road safety themes, the students will learn survival strategies at the same time as they learn English,” Ms McDonnell said.

The University of Auckland’s English Language Academy Marketing Manager Farnaaz Mohammed said a German student at the Academy was seriously injured recently when she walked into the path of a bus in nearby Symonds Street, in spite of taking part in an orientation tour which emphasises pedestrian safety.

“During her first week here she saw her bus on the other side of the road, completely forgot what she had been told, looked only to the left and stepped straight in front of a bus. She was seriously injured and flown home to Germany for treatment.

“It’s critical that our international students are aware of New Zealand’s road rules. The majority of our students come from countries where they drive on the other side of the road,” Ms Mohammed said.

The On the Road kit features the fictional characters of newly arrived student Mike and his ‘home-stay sister’ Sue. In the first lesson Mike almost gets hit by a car and Sue sets him straight about the “look right, look left, look right again” rule. The pair go on to face a number of issues together including drink-driving, speeding, driver licensing, and the diverse traffic on rural roads.

The kit also includes flashcards, audio clips, animations and some of New Zealand’s hard-hitting road safety advertisements, which proved useful during testing.

“In one case, a class was debating the compulsory use of safety belts and a Russian student was convinced it infringed on his personal freedom. He changed his mind when the class watched a road safety ad where a passenger without a safety belt is thrown through the windscreen of a car,” Ms McDonnell said.

“We think English language schools will find On the Road a useful teaching resource, and at the same time it will help keep international students safer on our roads, be they pedestrians, drivers or passengers.”

ENDS

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