The government spends a lot of money on educational programmes and initiatives for the teaching and learning of te reo Maori in many formal and informal contexts, however, many of these, from my own personal experiences and observations, have been and seem to be in many ways ineffective in their ability to produce quality, fluent speakers of te reo, in particularly for second language learners, where some of them go on to be Maori language teachers.
So, where does the solution lie? If you guessed the ‘teacher’ you get 10/10 marks, but any teacher? What do I mean by teacher? Who should be teaching, in particularly when it involves formal and professional settings such as schools, courses or television?
I think there needs to be a greater concentration on providing highly specialized teacher education programmes that are grounded in applied and general linguistic theory and practice among other subject areas in order to inform and raise Maori language teachers’ awareness to the wider context and issues underlying language teaching and learning. Ideally, such programmes would be taught by teachers who are or are seeking to become qualified, professional and experienced in these areas. There is a great need for teachers in this area.
This famine (shortage of teachers) in the land, I believe, also applies to teacher education publications and resources that provide sound theory and practice in teaching te reo, for example, in areas such curriculum, syllabus and methodology design and implementation. There are many resources available on how to learn te reo, but very few in the area of how to teach it.
Kahore he mea kotahi, kahore he mea tika – there is no one, right way of teaching and learning Maori and how to go about doing that, but these few suggestions may be a small step in addressing some of those challenges.
To summarize, we need 1) quality, professional and highly specialized teacher education programmes and 2) qualified, professional and highly specialized teachers in applied and general linguistics, education and pedagogy among other relevant subjects.
I hope that a new change, brings with it a new perspective and approach to addressing some of the issues raised here because there is so much at stake, our Maori language.