Pasifika dual language books launched

Issue: Volume 96, Number 1

Posted: 30 January 2017
Reference #: 1H9d5r

New dual language reading books in five Pasifika languages and English have been released to help students learn English by building on the strengths of their first language.

Teachers have long known that a child’s linguistic and cultural capital is an important tool in learning to read. In this spirit, a new collection of dual language books has been released by the Ministry of Education to help Pasifika new entrant students learn to read in English.

Developed in collaboration with the Ministry for Pacific Peoples, these reading books are written and illustrated to be especially relevant to the Pasifika community. They are arranged into five sets of 20 individual readers, each featuring brightly coloured illustrations and engaging stories in Samoan, Tongan, Cook Island Māori, Niuean and Tokelauan.

The books are written in a Pasifika language on one side and can be flipped to read the same story in English. They are named ‘dual language’ rather than ‘bilingual’ because their purpose is to support teaching the English language and literacy.

Teachers, parents and wider fanau can build on the strengths of the child’s first or strongest language to support their English language and literacy. By discussing the stories in their strongest heritage language, parents can help them better understand the story in English.

A warm reception

The Samoan books were trialled in seven South Auckland schools, along with parent and teacher support, and have already received positive feedback.

Jan de Koning is a teacher at Papatoetoe’s Holy Cross Catholic School and says her students loved working with them.

“The students took a big liking to some of the books in particular and they really enjoyed doing the activities,” says Jan, who is not a Samoan language speaker herself."

“My class used the simpler books – the level one books. We read them together as a class about once a week. We used them in connection to regular readers. The books are such a great resource within the school. We will continue to use them.”

Jan says her class at Holy Cross includes a number of Samoan speakers, so the books have been particularly helpful for them. She has been able to send books home with the children so they can continue working on their English and Pasifika language skills at home.

During the pilot process, facilitated fono were held for Pasifika parents to help them support their child’s language and literacy skills at home. In turn, these workshops also contributed to teachers’ understanding about the cultural and linguistic practices of their students.

“Parents and fanau were encouraged to read them with their children and discuss the stories in their own strongest language,” says Jan.

“They were very impressed by the books and they were very supportive of us using them.”

No cost to schools

The five sets of these 20 dual language books can be ordered from the Ministry warehouse ‘Down the Back of the Chair,’ at no cost to schools.

Support materials for teachers using the dual language books are also available. These include MP3 audio files for each title, student and parent resources and online PLD for every book.

Additional online material called ‘Unpacking the books’ provides summaries of each reader in each Pasifika language, as well as the linguistic and cultural knowledge for each of these cultures.

Find more teacher information on the Literacy Online webpage(external link) 

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 11:15 pm, 30 January 2017

Get new listings like these in your email
Set up email alerts