Last month a series of books designed to help Pacific children with literacy has won an award at the SunPix Pacific Peoples Awards in Auckland, New Zealand.
The Pasifika Dual Language Resources are a set of print and online resources to help new entrant and early years Pasifika children transition to English medium schools. The resources are designed to support the early language and literacy learning of Pasifika students in English-medium classrooms.
The resources are based on the second language acquisition principle that building on the child’s language/s, helps to strengthen English language and literacy. The resources are in line with the Pasifika Education Plan and the Ministry Statement of Intent, by ensuring the linguistic strengths these students bring to school will be used to build their English language and literacy.
The resources comprise 100 dual-language flip books, audio and online resources in five Pasifika languages – Samoan, Tongan, Tokelauan, Cook Islands Māori and Niuean – and English, as well as supporting materials for teachers and parents.
Ellen MacGregor-Reid from New Zealand’s education ministry said one of the best ways to teach literacy to young people who don’t have English as their first language was to leverage the language they already use. “Children seeing their language, their culture, valued in their learning environment is really important to them engaging well.”
MacGregor-Reid added, “So when you have young children coming into particularly English-medium learning settings, and wanting to learn to read, wanting to engage in the English language, building on the strength of their home language, is a great way to do that.”
The project was piloted in 2014 with Gagana Sāmoa/English dual language books in seven south Auckland schools, with successful outcomes for students, teachers, and parents. The pilot found that students’ achievement, confidence and self-esteem increased in English language and literacy after six months at school, by using and building on the strengths of their first language, while teachers reported gaining valuable insights into how to further develop their literacy and language teaching skills and practices.
MacGregor-Reid said she was thrilled with the win, and hoped it would mean more schools and families were aware of the books.
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