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Huge Risks In Second Language Policy

Media Release
02 August 2006

Huge Risks In Second Language Policy

New Zealand First is urging extreme caution with regards to the proposed policy towards making schools offer a non-New Zealand language to all students, said New Zealand First Education spokesman, Brian Donnelly.

“The objective of making New Zealand more multi-lingual is laudatory. The question is whether or not this policy will achieve that end.

“Certainly half an hour a week, even if offered for four years in the same language, is not going to achieve that objective. The risk is that our children will end up with a superficial smorgasbord of ciaos, Bonjours, and Konichiwas but make no progress towards fluency.

“There are huge practical problems in insisting that all schools make the offer of a language other than English or Maori to all pupils from years 7 to 10. It has to be asked what has to give in order for this to happen. No one can deny there will be learning opportunity costs.

“It would be better if the government took an encouragement approach by production of support materials, assistance with staff development, production of best practice and evidence of benefits to students, rather than the big stick approach,” said Mr Donnelly.

Mr Donnelly has a post-graduate diploma in second language teaching and taught French to intermediate pupils in the 1970’s from Massey University.

ENDS

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