Ko tōku reo tōku ohooho, ko tōku reo tōku māpihi maurea, 

ko tōku reo tōku whakakai marihi’ 

What is learning languages about?

Languages are inseparably linked to the social and cultural context in which they are used. The whakatauākī above accentuates the invaluable stature a language has for cultural identity.  It uses endearing objects such as whakakai marihi as a metaphor which portrays how precious a language is to its speakers. Language is of utmost value to a culture as it maintains cultural identity. 

Learning the language of another nation is a privilege that provides a glimpse into culture and life of another people.  It is an invitation by another nation to share and engage in the rituals and customs of others, adhering to our own cultural values of manaaki tangata. Through our understanding of whanaungatanga, acquisition of languages entitles us to explore our own whakapapa, mātauranga, whānau and individual identity while engaging in the rituals, histories, customs and cultural knowledge of others.

This learning area provides the framework for the teaching and learning of languages that are additional to the language of instruction. Level 1 of the curriculum is the entry level for students with no prior knowledge of the language being learned regardless of their school year.

Why Study a language?

Languages link people both locally and globally. They are spoken in the community, used internationally, and play a role in shaping our world. Language and culture are intrinsically intertwined and offer us access to new and different streams of thought and beliefs and cultural practices. Oral, written, and visual forms of language consequently link us to the past while paving our way towards multiculturalism and a multilingual future.

Learning an additional language supports students’ understanding of the way language is used. Exploration of languages extends students’ linguistic and cultural understanding, influencing their ability to interact appropriately with other speakers. Engaging people in another language introduces students to innovative ways of perceiving questions and interpreting themselves as global citizens. This affects the way students acquire knowledge, skills, and attitudes that equip them for living in a world of diverse peoples, languages and cultures.

The acquisition of languages helps students to gain skills and confidence which encourages them to take learning risks. Bilingual and multilingual students experience cultural, social, cognitive and communicational advantages. These advantages provide students with the cognitive skills and strategies to learn further languages while developing a better understanding of their own language(s) and culture(s). Learning an additional language provides students with opportunities to challenge themselves intellectually and discover new ways of learning, new ways of knowing, and more about their own capability. 

How is the learning area structured?

This learning area puts students’ ability to communicate at the centre by making Communication the core strand. This strand is supported by two further strands, which are directed specifically at developing the linguistic and cultural awareness needed for communicative competence.

In the core Communication strand, students learn to use the language to make meaning. As their linguistic and cultural knowledge increases, they become more effective communicators, developing the receptive skills of listening, reading, and viewing and the productive skills of speaking, writing, and presenting or performing.

In the supporting Language Knowledge strand, students study the language in order to understand how it works. They learn about the relationships between different words and different structures, how speakers adjust their language when negotiating meaning in different contexts and for different purposes, and how different types of text are organised. This strand helps students to develop explicit knowledge of the language, which will over time, contribute to greater accuracy of use.

In the supporting Cultural Knowledge strand, students learn about culture and the interrelationship between culture and language. They grow in confidence as they learn to recognise different elements of the belief systems of speakers of the target language. They become increasingly aware of the ways in which these systems are expressed through language and cultural practices. As they compare and contrast different beliefs and cultural practices - including their own - they understand more about themselves and become more understanding of others.

The content of the learning area is specified in a general proficiency statement for each progressive pair of levels, together with achievement objectives for the core strand and the two supporting strands. The achievement objectives in the Communication strand provide the basis for assessment. The two supporting strands are only assessed indirectly through their contribution to the Communication strand. 

The achievement objectives are generic in order to encompass all languages that may be offered for learning in schools. Language-specific guidelines provide further information.