Talofa and wel­come Luka to class

Auckland City Harbour News - - News - By Lisa Sloan

Luka Klu­bien doesn’t quite know all the words in Samoan yet.

But with the right ed­u­ca­tion, the seven-yearold should be flu­ent by the time he starts col­lege.

Luka is a mem­ber of the Mua-i-Malae Samoan bilin­gual unit at Rich­mond Road Pri­mary School.

The class is made up of 80 chil­dren who learn in both Samoan and English.

The pro­gramme has been suc­cess­ful up to year 6, but there are few op­tions avail­able for chil­dren to con­tinue bilin­gual ed­u­ca­tion at in­ter­me­di­ate.

Feeonaa Wall’s son has been in the bilin­gual unit since he started school.

She would like to see him con­tinue his ed­u­ca­tion at in­ter­me­di­ate school, so she is work­ing with Kowhai In­ter­me­di­ate School to start a Samoan class in 2009.

Ms Wall says chil­dren need to con­tinue bilin­gual learn­ing as long as pos­si­ble.

“If you stop the pro­gramme too soon, you don’t get as many benefi she says.

“We are try­ing to feed this out into our com­mu­ni­ties and give the chil­dren as many op­por­tu­ni­ties as pos­si­ble to ex­tend their learn­ing.”

The Samoan bilin­gual unit has been run­ning at Rich­mond Road school since 1986.

The school also of­fers Maori and French im­mer­sion units.

Chil­dren study the same sub­jects as main­stream classes but top­ics take on a cul­tural fo­cus.

For ex­am­ple, in a cur­rent unit about an­i­mals, chil­dren are study­ing the fish and birds in Samoa.

Ju­nior stu­dents spend most of their time learn­ing in Samoan up to year 4 and then spend three days a week in Samoan and two in English up to year 6.

Prin­ci­pal Hay­ley Read says the school’s bilin­gual pro­grammes have been a great suc­cess.

“In­ter­na­tional re­search does show chil­dren who are bilin­gual achieve at or above the level of their uni-lin­gual class­mates,” she says.

“We want them to have the con­fi­dence to be proud of who they are and flex­i­bil­ity in any lan­guage.”

Kowhai In­ter­me­di­ate prin­ci­pal Paul Douglas says the school recog­nises stu­dents need at least eight years of bilin­gual ed­u­ca­tion to be con­fi­dent in both lan­guages.

“The value of a bilin­gual approach is like Vel­cro be­cause best learn­ing al­ways oc­curs when new con­cepts are firmly hooked on to ex­ist­ing ex­pe­ri­ences and un­der­stand­ings,” he says.

“Samoan stu­dents will learn best when their rich prior knowl­edge comes into play, rather than be­ing left at the school gate.”

He says he is open to the pos­si­bil­ity of a bilin­gual class, but it will need to se­cure fund­ing and have at least 25 full-time stu­dents to be vi­able.

Luka says it is a good idea for peo­ple to know more than one lan­guage.

“That way if a per­son speaks to you in an­other lan­guage you can talk back and you can un­der­stand them,” he says.

Kowhai In­ter­me­di­ate would like to re­ceive ex­pres­sions of in­ter­est in the bilin­gual unit.

For more in­for­ma­tion call 846-7534 or email pauldou­glas@kowhai. school.nz.

Photo: JA­SON OXENHAM

Mother tongue: Luka Klu­bien, left, and An­to­nio Wulf, both 7, are mem­bers of the Samoan bilin­gual unit at Rich­mond Road Pri­mary School. The school wants to ex­tend the pro­gramme to in­ter­me­di­ate level.

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