After two and a half years of collaborative work, it was exciting to finally present the final draft of the Tamaki Makaurau Auckland Languages Strategy at the Office of Ethnic Community’s Lining Up Languages: Navigating Policy and Programmes forum last month.
Joris de Bres (of Multicultural New Zealand) and I were invited as representatives of the Auckland Languages Strategy Working Group to discuss our strategy, and how it might feed into policy at a national level.
Our presentation fit perfectly with the forum’s focus around government policies and initiatives to promote the use and learning of languages in New Zealand. There were well over 100 people there, from a wide range of language backgrounds and organisations, and the presentations covered a good cross-section of services and policy positions around languages.
Joris and I used some of our presentation time to get people to write their responses to two questions:
1. What is the most important action New Zealand should take to support languages?
2. What is one low-cost or no-cost action that would support languages in New Zealand?
In all, 85 people contributed their ideas. There were some clear trends in the responses, as you can see from the most frequently-mentioned actions below:
Most important actions
- Make language learning in schools compulsory 19
- Establish a national languages policy 17
- Publicly recognise the value of languages 15
- Teach languages in school from year 1 12
Low- or no-cost actions:
- Support community language learning 13
- Encourage parents to use their mother tongue at home 12
- Use community members to teach language and culture in schools 12
- Value languages – champions, public campaigns 10
If you’d like more details on the ideas participants put forward, you can read the full summary here: NZ Languages_Feedback_ALL.
Based on the above feedback from forum participants, on listening to the presentations and discussions across the two days, and on other feedback received since our last draft, we have developed an updated version of the strategy, which you can check out here: Nga Reo o Tamaki Makaurau Draft Action Plan – revised draft updated March 2015 3.
While we are developing this strategy at a regional level, it was exciting to hear comments that our strategy could be seen as a possible starting point for a national languages policy. If that happens, it could be a game-changer in supporting a multilingual Aotearoa.
The next step for us is to gain formal endorsements from language organisations – which will help us gain credibility for the strategy at Council and government levels. All we need is an email from the organisation, stating that they endorse the Auckland Languages Strategy. If you have connections with any relevant organisations, please can you either approach them for endorsement yourself, or email me at email@example.com so that one of the writing committee can arrange a meeting with the appropriate person, to request endorsement.
Meanwhile, here are a few links to recent news stories relating to the strategy:
• Auckland Council gives regional languages strategy thumbs up
• Celebrating Auckland’s diversity through language
• Radio Waatea: Auckland Languages Strategy accepted by Auckland Council