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AUT University: Te reo digital learning app introduced

AUT University: Te reo digital learning app Te Whanake to make Maori language education accessible anywhere, anytime

A new digital learning app for Maori language could contribute to the growing number of te reo speakers in New Zealand.

Te Whanake is being released this week as a digital app series for Apple iPads and Android tablets by Te Ipukarea – The National Maori Language Institute at AUT University.

The Te Whanake series is a set of rich learning resources for the Maori language which previously has only been available as a set of hard copy textbooks and study guides or, in more recent years, through the website.

To use the digital language series people download the Te Whanake ‘container app’ for free and then make in-app purchases to access each level of the programme.

Each level pulls material from the textbook, study guides and includes animations, podcasts and listening and speaking exercises to bring the language to life.

Dr Dean Mahuta, associate director at Te Ipukarea, says the Te Whanake app series is the most comprehensive Maori language app available to date.

“These apps present a structured programme taking the learner from beginner through to the advanced stages of the language. This is a digital series that will work for independent learners but it’s also a great resource for teachers and educators, giving them access to exercises and learning materials at the right time in each learners’ language development.”

“The fact that this is a digital app series means educators and learners will have access to the language wherever they are. Making it easy to access removes one of the barriers to growing the language and making it part of everyday life. Using the language often is the best way to strengthen the learning and the app makes it easy to do that.”

“The release this week of statistics indicating a significant resurgence in the use of te reo over the past decade show it is an exciting time for the Maori language.”

Results of the Te Kupenga survey carried out by Statistics NZ show that in 2013 an estimated 257,500 (55 percent) Maori aged 15+ self-report an ability to speak te reo Maori, defined as more than a few words or phrases of the language.

This compares to the results of the Te Puni Kokiri survey on the health of Maori language in 2001 which found 153,500 (42 percent) Maori adults reported some ability to speak te reo Maori.

“These numbers are good, but we mustn’t let this diminish our resolve,” says Dr Mahuta.

“We need to foster the growth of the language and build on these gains to help more people connect with the language. The survey results capture the use of the language by adult Maori but until we hear the language being used in our everyday tasks, at the bank or at the supermarket check-out counter, the Māori language still has a long way to go.”


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