Bilingualism- What is it?

Bilingualism is being able to speak in two languages with ease.

More than 65% of the world's population speak at least two languages in their everyday lives!

In many countries throughout the world bilingualism and even multi-lingualism are natural, normal everyday things. New Zealand is one of the few countries where monolingualism or only being able to speak one language is the norm.

How to achieve bilingualism

Bilingualism can be achieved in a number of ways. Most of us aren't in a situation where we have native speakers living with us. In fact most of us are still learning the language. Depending on what our individual situations are there are a number of strategies that you can follow to grow your whānau into a bilingual whānau. The most important thing to remember is that the more time and effort you put in, the more results you will see.

The advantages of bilingualism

Studies on bilingual children have shown that they:

  • Are able to think more flexibly and creatively

  • Have greater opportunities later in life for employment and economic opportunities

  • Can act as bridge builders between generations of reo speakers and generations without

  • Have the ability to communicate with a wider range of people

  • Have more in depth understanding and appreciation of other cultures and languages

  • Have a raised self esteem and greater security in personal identity

  • Find it easier to learn a third language

I'm not a confident speaker

You don't have to be a native speaker to help your children speak Māori. There are lots of ways that you, as a learner or second language speaker can do to help introduce and support the growth of te reo Māori within your home. Your role is to provide opportunities for your children to be positively exposed to the language and grow their appreciation for the language.

Check this link out for handy tips and advice and answer some of the questions you may have about helping your child learn to speak Māori as well as English, and indeed, about their general language development.

Why can't we just leave it up to kōhanga and kura kaupapa?

The home plays the most vital role in terms of a child's language development. This is where intergenerational transmission occurs and where language use is normalised. Kura and kōhanga although equipped for teaching children te reo Māori, rarely produce high quality speakers of te reo when there is no home support for this. You need to take charge of your child's language development and support it from the home level.

The Maori language is a minority language, what use is it anyway?

The Māori language is a minority language - what use is it anyway?

Te Reo Māori is the indigenous language of New Zealand, of our tūpuna. It is a fundamental foundation of our identity as Māori. There is no other country in the world where it is spoken as a language of communication. If we are not going to use our language no-one else will ensure its survival for us and it will die.

Māoridom is a thing of the future - be proud and take the reigns into your own hands. Kōrerohia Te Reo.

On another front the number of te reo Māori speakers emerging out of kura and kōhanga are growing everyday. Government departments and employers are constantly looking at people who are competent in Māori to deliver services and products to this ever-growing market.