News, Research

Check out this week’s New Zealand Listener!

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poster360-2-150x205This week’s New Zealand Listener has a great write up about learning languages in NZ. Some quote snippets:

Kiwis are record travellers, but 80% of us speak only one language and that ability is declining, despite evidence that learning to speak in another tongue keeps the brain young…

…in 2014, less than 10% of Year 13 students were studying an international language for NCEA Level Three.

Although English is the world’s third most common language spoke by native speakers, it is recognised as the global language of business, scientific research, media and popular culture. And speakers of other languages often learn English as their second language. The result? Native English speakers…tend to be “spectacularly uninterested in learning other languages”. But from a global perspective, this is unusual. Most of the world’s population speaks more than one language, with many children growing up with or learning at school, up to five languages.

Bilinguals and multilinguals have been found to be better at linguistic abstraction, decision making and…cognitive flexibility – a combination of divergent thinking (creativity) and convergent thinking (problem solving with a number of factors).

…Although younger students find it easier to acquire a native-like accent when learning a new language, even a weekly class for adults can provide some grounding in grammar, language structure and conversational vocabulary.

News, Research

Four issues with language learning at primary schools?

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An article written by The British Council in March 2014 discussed the four issues with language learning in England, at primary schools. Language learning became compulsory in England’s primary schools in 2014, but the four main issues were (in brief summary):

1. Need for additional language training among primary school teachers

2. Disconnection between primary and secondary schools and lack of continuity in language learning from primary to secondary.

3. Language learning becoming more ‘elitist’.

4. Languages still not seen as valuable in the same way as maths and science – A ‘crisis’ in language learning post-16….And despite many recent public statements and reports by business organisations on the importance of language skills for UK exports, they are still not seen as valuable in the same way that maths and science subjects are. As one respondent comments: ‘Languages are perceived as a difficult option and not an obvious choice for future career prospects’.

Do you feel like these same issues are present in New Zealand?

Learning Languages is part of The New Zealand Curriculum, but at the personal/family level, it feels like only the private primary schools offer a languages as a separate subject area from the early years, whereas public schools only seem to start in Years 7 and 8 – apart from schools that have independently committed themselves to starting younger e.g. Te Aro School in Wellington begin Mandarin classes at a (much younger than usual!) Year 3 level.

Class-Home Resources, News, Research

One of the differences between English and Chinese speaking

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figures-368751_960_720The link below goes to an interesting article from a teacher’s perspective of Chinese language speakers trying to speak English as a language, and why it is difficult.

It gives an insight into the speech differences between the languages and helps us understand a little about why English-as-first language-speakers find Chinese languages tricky too.

Speech New Zealand – guideline for teaching Chinese speakers (


News, Research

Difference between learning your first language (L1) and a second or foreign language (L2)

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Our latest newsletter has gone out with our 2015 review and what’s in store for 2016. Hopefully everyone has received it. Enrolments are open, and we request that enrolments are made by the end of December 🙂

We also found this interesting slide show on the difference between learning your first language (L1) and a second or foreign language (L2) – there is also a significant difference between learning a Second Language and a Foreign Language, but more on that some other time

We hope (and try to aim for) the class style at Ni Hao Children’s Community leans more towards “acquisition” 🙂