"Ko te reo Māori te kākahu o te whakaaro, te huarahi i te ao tūroa The Māori language cloaks Māori thought and provides a pathway to the wider world."
Central to this learning area is the critical link between oral language, body language and written language, to enable thought, the human spirit and emotions to be captured and expressed appropriately through Māori language.
Māori language enables a child’s uniqueness and origins – be they linguistic, personal, cultural, or practical – to be exhibited and acknowledged. Language is the expression of thought and as such, thought and language are inextricably linked. Developing a high level of competence in language enables a learner to reach their full potential in all other learning areas. Only then will Sir James Henare’s proverb be realised. Hence, learners need to be competent listeners, speakers, readers and writers in order to be able to participate confidently in society and enjoy full lives.
It is important to develop a full range of linguistic competencies in learners including functional language use, breadth of language knowledge, and linguistic strategies. If a learner wants to learn new concepts and is able to do so, that is the best time to teach that skill or form of language, irrespective of the curriculum level that the learner may be at.
Language learning is an ongoing, cyclical process with varying degrees of progress being made at different times. Learners need repeated practice at new skills in order to become competent.
There are now only three strands in this learning area – oral, written and paralinguistic features– which encapsulate the full breadth of language, including body language. The modes of listening, speaking, writing, reading, viewing, and presenting are evident within these three strands.
There are three main aims that are interwoven across the strands to capture the holistic nature of language teaching. These three aims are relevant at all levels and to all strands. The first of these relates to language functions and the purposes for which language is used – understanding the reasons why we exchange ideas.
The second overarching aim encourages the expansion of vocabulary and the understanding of how words work including pronunciation, vocabulary use, grammar, and phraseology.
The third of the overarching aims encompasses the teaching and learning of language strategies and language learning strategies.
These three overarching aims are explained further through achievement objectives within each of the strands. Through the achievement objectives the teacher will gain a clear understanding of what these overarching aims mean when it comes to teaching writing, speaking, reading, listening and all other aspects of the language.
The eight levels within this learning area signpost the language learning pathway. The levels have been determined according to the potential of children learning in Māori immersion settings. Because of the wide range of language ability apparent amongst children on entry to kura, this learning area has specified four entry points at Level One, clarifying the appropriate learning pathway for each child. The four starting points within Level One have been named: He Pīpī (Limited Proficiency), He Kaha (Conversational Proficiency), He Kaha Ake (Moderate Proficiency) and He Pakari (Higher Proficiency).
At each of the eight levels a general description is provided of the expected linguistic characteristics of a typical learner on entry to that level. This should enable teachers to quickly identify the appropriate level for each of their learners.
The achievement objectives within each level identify the linguistic characteristics of the learner when the level has been achieved. So, the descriptor entitled ‘Learner Characteristics’ within each level, explains the expectations of a typical learner at the start of the level, while the achievement objectives for that level describe what a learner can do at completion of the level.