Teaching and learning language to grow global citizens

Issue: Volume 97, Number 15

Posted: 27 August 2018
Reference #: 1H9kEN

Learning another language helps students gain the knowledge and skills they need in order to live, work and learn globally.

The importance of fostering diversity and engaging with those from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds is recognised not only by educational institutes and The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC), but also by students themselves.

The Wellington Hindi School, a community language school, aims to promote interlingual and intercultural understanding by developing confident Hindi speakers who engage with the wider community.

Operations Manager Sunita Narayan says teaching Hindi has given her the opportunity to overcome challenges and develop as a teacher herself.

“The biggest challenge is students coming in with different levels of Hindi competence, which ranges from zero to being able to speak a little bit and write a little bit.”

As with other schools, another challenge can be meeting parents’ expectations.

“Parents come in and they enrol their child and expect their children will be provided a Hindi education in the way they were taught. They expect the children to be able to speak, read and write very quickly but our curriculum is actually designed in a way that we start with conversation. We have a lot of fun and we structure the curriculum according to the student’s capabilities,” Sunita says.

“Over the 25 years that I’ve been teaching, these challenges have made me become more innovative and think all the time about how we can do things differently. With that   experience with ongoing learning, I can personally have a newcomer to an experienced learner in the same class and I can manage that.”

The Wellington Hindi School teaches the Hindi language and associated cultures to students aged 4–18. As well as offering language classes, the school provides informal advice to mainstream schools who want to offer awareness sessions.

Language learning is important to local curriculum, and strongly positioned in the ‘Positive in their identity’ section, ‘Cultural diversity, inclusion, community engagement’ principle and ‘Participating and contributing in local and global contexts’ key competencies of the NZC.

By using a holistic approach to teaching and learning Hindi, Sunita hopes to enable her students to integrate their Hindi language knowledge into the New Zealand social, cultural and economic environments, and to help grow global citizen from the leaders of tomorrow. 

The Ministry of Education and Education New Zealand have developed the International Education Strategy 2018–2030 with the aim of creating a globally connected New Zealand through education. Part of this strategy is ensuring all students gain the knowledge and skills they need to live, work and learn globally. Through the Strategy the Ministry of Education will promote supports that enable schools to offer language learning.

Learning languages is one of the eight learning areas in The New Zealand Curriculum.

Schools and kura have the autonomy to design language learning programmes that best meet the needs and aspirations of their students and their communities.

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 8:52 am, 27 August 2018

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