Good teaching models of te reo Māori?

Some time ago, a colleague and I had discussed some issues relating to ‘good teaching models’ of te reo Māori. Today, I feel to briefly revisit that discussion in relation to Māori language teaching via Youtube and to make a few comments with Māori Language Teachers (MLT) in mind.

Over the past years, Māori language teachers both novice and professionals have created a diverse range of Youtube channels as a means of teaching the Māori language that is readily available to anybody with Internet access. The methodology and content have been both formal and informal ranging from simple to complex features of te reo Māori and has seen an increase in pedagogical videos that have contributed to the cause generally.

Serious teachers of the language using popular IT platforms such as Youtube should, therefore, ensure the provision of good teaching models of te reo that delivers both in quality and accuracy of information for their target audience. I refer in part to the term ‘teaching model’ as meaning and involving ‘accuracy of information’ as taught by MLT’s to potential audiences. It is therefore critical that MLT’s are competent (knowledgeable) in what they are teaching in order to help learners develop their language skills and knowledge.

 Some issues for the serious MLT via YouTube:

  • Terminology: it is critical that MLT’s are knowledgeable when using linguistic and grammatical descriptions to describe te reo Māori, for example, diphthongs relate to double vowels and digraphs to consonants.
  • Descriptive grammar: if MLT’s include aspects of descriptive grammar of te reo Māori in their videos and have little or no linguistic or grammar background, then they should consult an authoritative grammar book on the matter.
  • Level of knowledge: MLT’s should teach only what is within the scope of their current knowledge and expand as they increase and advance in knowledge.
  • Pronunciation: the articulation and quality of words can sometimes be distorted or mispronounced completely. It is therefore important that good quality sound recordings are used, checked and rechecked. Te reo Māori phonology is a key teaching and learning aspect of the language.

Over time, there has been ongoing concerns with the inaccuracies of teaching Māori (whether small or great) through the use of information technology such as Youtube, Facebook or media and I am reminded of some prominent figures in Māoridom (all native speakers of te reo) who have voiced their concerns in this area. The inaccuracies that occur in the teaching of te reo across of range of media platforms does a disservice to both the learner and language generally and places the credibility of a teacher under the lens of scrutiny.

It seems, in some cases, that second language learners who have become MLT’s can and have contributed to and perpetuated this situation which can also include first language speakers. If there were ever a case where the aphorism ka pai ki mua (teacher), ka pai ki muri (learner) was most needed it would be in this situation. That is, the MLT should provide a high quality and accurate learning experience where both parties benefit as a result.

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