[QODLink]
Living the Language

New Zealand: The Maori

One model for reviving dying languages focuses on immersing children and their parents within the Maori culture.

Last updated: 17 Jul 2014 19:10
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback

An internationally acclaimed model for reviving dying languages was pioneered in New Zealand by the Maori community. The Language Nests are kindergartens for children and their parents where they get the chance to speak to elders and other Maori in a warm, homely, tribal environment.

Around the world it is today's adult generation that has suffered the greatest damage in terms of language deprivation. The solution in the Maori communities is to let elders communicate with young children and their parents at the same time. Rather than teaching, it is a process of immersing oneself within the Maori language and culture.

"Before Maori moved to the big cities, this is how they used to live amongst their own tribes," says Jade Robson, one of the many thousands of Language Nest graduates. "You've heard the phrase: It takes a village to raise a child."

The first Language Nest opened in 1982 and they can now be found in hundreds of places around the country. The model has been put to use in Hawaii as well. But it is costly, and there have been controversies in New Zealand with studies claiming that the Language Nests do not meet the standards for early childhood education.

The proportion of Maori people actually speaking the language is now around 25 per cent - up a few percentage points since the early 1980s. It might look like a meager result, but according to linguist Christopher Moseley it should be considered a success.

"Compared to how quickly a language can disappear, in just one generation in extreme cases, the figures are good," he says. "They are actually quite encouraging."

Living the Language  can be seen on Al Jazeera English each week at the following times GMT:  Tuesday:  1630;  Wednesday:  0930;  Thursday:  0330; Friday:  1630;  Saturday:  2230;  Sunday:  0930;  Monday:  0330

 

394

Source:
Al Jazeera
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
Featured on Al Jazeera
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Featured
President Poroshenko arrives in Washington on Thursday with money and military aid on his mind, analysts say.
Early players in private medicine often focused on volume over quality, turning many Chinese off for-profit care.
Al Jazeera asked people across Scotland what they think about the prospect of splitting from the United Kingdom.
With social media dominating communication among young Americans, taunting is no longer confined to school hours.
Referendum on Scottish independence is the first major election in the UK where 16 and 17-year olds get a vote.
join our mailing list