Two languages should be compulsory, starting with Te Reo - professor

Long Lunch 16/08/2018
Photo: Getty.

A languages expert is calling for a renewed language policy in mainstream schools, with an emphasis on Te Reo proficiency.

“It’s the language of this county and we all need to know our indigenous language,” says Sharon Harvey, School of Language head at Auckland University of Technology.

While Prof Harvey applauds the improving Te Reo pronunciation of younger New Zealanders, she doesn’t believe it’s enough for Kiwis to merely pronounce locations properly.

“Wouldn’t it be great if they had some real proficiency in the language as well?”

Students in mainstream schools aren’t required to reach proficiency, which is the first area that should be addressed, says Prof Harvey.

“It’s really important for our national identity as well,” she told RadioLIVE.

The Labour Party has outlined its commitment to integrate Te Teo in schools by 2025, but their target falls short of requiring proficiency.

Language policy should go further than compulsory Te Reo, according to Prof Harvey. In her ideal world, students would be required to learn three languages, including Te Reo and English.

She recommends that the final compulsory language be chosen by individual schools depending on their location, preference, and language traditions. The third compulsory language would allow students to engage with the globalised world beyond New Zealand’s borders.

“We need to do much more big thinking around languages,” she emphasised.

Listen to the full interview with Sharon Harvey above.

The Long Lunch with Wendyl Nissen, 12pm - 3pm on RadioLIVE and streaming live to the rova app on Android and iPhone.