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Multilingualism reflects diversity

Multilingualism reflects diversity

More youngsters growing up understanding more than one language is good news says Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy.

“New Zealand is starting to sound the way we look: diverse and multilingual,” said Dame Susan.

“Learning your own language strengthens your identity and confidence: once you know more than one language it’s easier to learn others.”

Growing Up in New Zealand is our largest and most up to date longitudinal study that provides a contemporary, population relevant picture of what it’s like to be a child growing up in New Zealand in the 21st century.

More than 7000 families took part in the study and 7% of youngsters surveyed understood three or more languages with English and Maori being most popular languages, followed by Samoan, Tongan and Hindi.

Dame Susan is currently learning te reo Maori and says she wishes she’d learnt other languages earlier as well.

“We live in a multilingual world and that world doesn’t start overseas: it begins right here in our communities and homes. The growing global economy isn’t monolingual and doesn’t just speak English: we prepare our Kids better by encouraging them to learn other languages, especially their own.”

Dame Susan says the report’s finding is timely as it’s come not long after Samoan Language Week and just before Maori Language Week.


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