Asking the right questions – Ko Te Patai Tika

As a teacher of Maori as a second language (TeMSL), my main focus, during pre/post-lesson preparation/evaluation periods, is to ask myself the right questions in order to guide the design and implementation of my syllabus and lessons. The following questions may help to put this into perspective: for example, instead of asking ‘what will I (the teacher) do in class today’, it may be better to ask ‘what will my students do in class today’ and instead of ‘what will I teach today’ could be asked as ‘how can I help my students discover what they need to know’ (Teaching, No Greater Call, pp. 61). In the first questions, the emphasis is on the teacher; however, when the question is altered or asked in another way it soon becomes transparent that the emphasis and focus has shifted to the student.

Asking yourself questions like these, can have a profound effect on the way you view your learners, your relationship and attitude towards them, your focus to help them become autonomous learners, for example, through self-discovery and the role you play as a professional Maori language teacher in order to bring all these elements together for successful language learning. Nevertheless, in addition to student focus, nurturing and developing your knowledge, skills and practice as a language teacher is equally as important.

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