The Herald reports:
Foreign language learning in primary schools looks likely to become commonplace for Kiwi kids with widespread political support for a private member’s bill promoting second-language teaching from a young age.
Former education minister Nikki Kaye has won the support of current Education Minister Chris Hipkins and the Labour caucus, plus the Greens and Act, to progress her bill to select committee.
The bill is also likely to extend the provision of Māori language teaching in schools as well as foreign languages.
The bill requires the Government to set 10 priority languages – likely to include Mandarin, Spanish, French, Japanese, Korean, Pacific languages and possibly Hindi as well as official languages Te Reo Māori and New Zealand Sign Language.
It also requires the Government to resource the provision of those languages in primary and intermediate schools.
Schools would then consult their communities to decide which of the priority languages will be taught for Year 1 to 8. It could be more than one.
“Speaking more than one language has enormous cognitive, cultural, social and economic benefits so this bill is a big opportunity for our country,” said Kaye.
There is a lot of evidence that learning a second language early on is beneficial to kids, including it improves their ability with their primary language.
I like the aspect that each school decides for itself which languages to teach, rather than the Government dictate one language for everyone.
Good to see Labour and Greens backing the bill, even though it is from an opposition MP. And also a good reminder that being in Opposition isn’t just about opposing – but also advancing your own good policy ideas.