Caption: Andrew is continuing to create opportunities to include a greater range of kupu and kīwaha into the video and web conference resources he develops through LEARNZ virtual field trips. Image: LEARNZ.
Over time, I have come to appreciate how the Māori language is intimately woven into the fabric of nature, history, customs, and beliefs. I see much more clearly now how te reo is an essential element of Māoritanga — more than just a means to communicate. In a blog I wrote last year, titled ‘A Stranger in a Strange Land?’, I talked about why I think learning te reo is one of the best ways to develop empathy for Māori culture. In part of that blog I said that it was:
…the active learning of Māori language which I believe is the key to breaking through Pākehā paralysis to a point where Pākehā educators have an experiential understanding of Māori language and culture, not just an intellectual understanding, to make the teaching and learning environment a properly inclusive one.
(For more information on the notion of Pākehā paralysis, watch Alex Hotere-Barnes on EDtalks).
In that blog, I also explored my own te reo Māori journey. “I’ll let you know how things are progressing in my next blog!” I said. Well, here it is!
Te Reo Manahua Māori
Last year, I enrolled in Te Reo Manahua Māori, an intermediate course for te reo Māori. This course is part of CORE’s ngaiotanga/professional learning services, and is preceded by Te Reo Puāwai Māori, the Stage 1 beginners’ course. Both courses are online, with an opportunity to attend a face-to-face hui at both the beginning and end of the course.
The courses are organised within the Moodle platform, which made the content easy to follow, flexible, and allowed for a range of different media to suit various learning styles. Additionally, the weekly Adobe Connect session was a great opportunity to connect with other course participants, to share and reinforce the week’s learning. I also found the Adobe Connect sessions helpful in a sense that I could interact with others at a similar stage of te reo learning journey, which gave me a sense of reassurance that what I was doing was of value.
Commitment and encouragement
I admit that, at times, I felt somewhat overwhelmed with what I didn’t know (and that I still need to learn!) Such is the nature of learning, eh! But, making the commitment to take part in Te Reo Manahua Māori was a key step in the right direction. And it wasn’t like I felt forced to carry on with my te reo learning just because I had made this commitment — it was more that I felt encouraged, for which I give credit to the course facilitators and the way the learning experience has been structured.
Although I am no longer teaching in a classroom setting, I could certainly see how one could translate learning within the course into lessons for students. For my job as a LEARNZ virtual field trip teacher, Te Reo Manahua Māori has increased my repertoire of kupu (vocabulary), as well as the confidence to use these words; improved my whakahua (pronunciation); and I am gradually incorporating a greater range of kīwaha (idioms) into field trip videos and web conferences. My next step is continuing to search for and find opportunities to further my learning in this space.