Samoans in New Zealand want more language resources
Parents in New Zealand hoping to raise their children to be bilingual in Samoan and English say there are not enough learning resources available in Samoan, either in print or online.
Parents in New Zealand hoping to raise their children to be bilingual in Samoan and English, say there are not enough learning resources available in Samoan, either in print or online.
An immersion Samoan early childhood centre in Auckland, the A'oga Fa'a Samoa, produces its own learning material and picture books due to a lack of resources, but says parents are constantly asking for more.
Leilani Momoisea spoke to parents at the school.
"My parents don't speak Samoan, or Niuean either, because my Mum is Niuean. We went back for a family reunion in Samoa a couple of years ago and I was embarrassed. I also felt like it was, because I was pregnant at the time, that it was what really made me want him to learn the language. It is only a few, select families or people that still speak, and it's dying out. So I didn't want that. Plus I just wanted Lennox to be brainy and speak lots of languages."
That's Ashley Stanley explaining why she wants her son to be fluent in both Samoan and English - and why she enrolled him in the A'oga Fa'a Samoa early childhood centre.
She says it's been difficult to find resources in Samoan, or any Pacific language, and after searching extensively she found a DVD at the Otara markets, and some books from the library, but says she'd love to see more resources made available online.
"Just for parents like myself who are kiwi born, I'd like to have something online just because I know it sounds really bad, but convenience. We're busy, and I know it sounds really stupid, that you know if it's your culture you want to try everything you can but the reality is there's just so many other things competing for time that it's just not sustainable."
Another parent, Amalia Reweti says at the moment, she has plenty of resources available to her, provided by the A'oga.
"If I wasn't here, then I think it would be an issue and we wouldn't have a lot of resources, and I know for my nephew, they struggle to have resources. Like, they do it themselves. We paste the Samoan words over the English books for them. So it's kind of sad, but the stuff that we have here is awesome."
The manager of the A'oga Fa'a Samoa early childhood centre, Jan Taouma, says parents are continually asking to be able to see the words for Samoan songs so they can sing along with their children.
She says having online resources would be a real additive to their learning, as children nowadays are always going to their parents ipads or computers.
"There is a huge need, obviously we've been wanting just ordinary reading books, and story books, in Samoan, but I think alongside that they also need to be available online. Auckland traffic, children are often sitting for an hour or so in a car, and it could be something that everybody could be reading and singing together."
Jan Taouma says the idea is commercially viable, but the Ministry of Education needs to also support the online application and digitization of Samoan learning resources.
"The third spoken language in New Zealand is Samoan. To start with Samoan would be a good beginning because there is such a huge population of Samoan, and I'm sure it would be accessed worldwide because you know, Samoans are everywhere."
A co-chair of the A'oga and parent, Duane Stanley, says what resources the Ministry of Education does have, can be worked through very quickly.
He says he'd love to be able to hand a tablet to his three year old son, who could then access his favourite Samoan songs, or e-books.
"I have a vision that they could bring it up on a tablet, they could start to read, and they could share the story using technology like skype. So my children could call my Dad in Wellington. Together they could look at the book and read at the same time. Those kind of resources that are collaborative, and that really lends itself to the immersion concept, to help them develop. That's what I would love to see. That's what we don't have."
Mr Stanley says with parents like himself, whose command of the Samoan language is limited, and who don't have other Samoan speakers in the home, being able to have learning material in one place online will benefit teachers, children, and parents alike.
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