|Title:||The Maori Vocabulary Knowledge of Year 6 Students in Maori-Medium Education||Add Dissertation|
|Author:||Peter Keegan||Update Dissertation|
|Email:||click here to access email|
|Institution:||Victoria University of Wellington, School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies|
|Linguistic Subfield(s):||Applied Linguistics;|
|Abstract:||Since the 1970s there have been enormous efforts in Aotearoa/New Zealand to revitalize Mäori as a language for everyday communication, particularly in educational settings. These efforts are given urgency by the fact that the most current estimate by Te Puni Kökiri (the Ministry of Mäori Development) indicates that Mäori is spoken fairly well or better by only 20 % of the adult Mäori population. Immersion education is making an important contribution to Mäori language revitalization. As part of this initiative, thousands of new Mäori words have been created to facilitate the teaching of all curriculum subjects through the medium of Mäori in the compulsory school sector. However, many of these new terms are not yet well known and cause difficulties for those involved in Mäori-medium education. This raises the question of whether the students being educated in these schools have adequate knowledge of vocabulary to achieve the objectives of the national curriculum through the medium of Mäori.
This study looked at the Mäori vocabulary knowledge of Year 6 Mäori-medium students whose major source of Mäori language input was the classroom. One hundred and nine students from 12 schools throughout the North Island undertook tasks designed to assess their vocabulary knowledge and ability. The tasks, which were based on typical communicative and academic activities in the classroom, included measures of vocabulary size, reading comprehension, listening comprehension, writing and mathematical knowledge. Although there were problems in defining what represented an adequate vocabulary knowledge in the context of Mäori-medium education, it was found that most of the students had sufficient knowledge to complete the tasks. However, it appeared that some students had difficulty with contemporary or technical terms, many of which are not yet established in the lexicon. Additional data on educational and social variables obtained through surveys of the parents and teachers showed that having at least one parent who was a teacher was significantly associated with student achievement on the tasks used in this study.
It was clear from the research results and the researcher’s observations that the schools participating in the study were providing a positive learning experience for their students. However, further expansion and standardization of the Mäori lexicon, particularly in the areas covered by the school curriculum, will be necessary to help ensure that the schools have a long-term impact on both the revitalization of the language and enhanced educational achievement by Mäori students.