25 May 2009

Samoa language week to highlight benefit of bilingualism

2:57 pm on 25 May 2009

A language professor at the University of Waikato says it's hoped that this week's Samoa Language week will highlight the benefits of being bilingual.

Professor Stephen May says New Zealand is a Pacific country and made up of diverse ethnicities and cultures from the region.

He says educationalists want to encourage more bilingualism and biliteracy among students, whatever the language.

"One of the messages that those of us working in the field are trying to get across is that one can maintain a strong knowledge of English alongside a Pasifika language. So there's no need to replace a language like Samoan with English. In fact, all of the research suggests that if one maintains Samoan or another Pasifika language alongside English that's the best way to succeed academically, educationally but also in terms of maintaining all those identity and cultural links."

Professor Stephen May

Samoa Language week, now in its third year, runs from May the 24th to the 31st.