Learning a new language can be a confronting and terrifying experience for many people, and in this I am speaking from experience.
As a Māori, not knowing how to kōrero Māori confidently, there were, and still are, many barriers and anxieties when it comes to my own reo journey.
In my journey I’ve found that turning learning into games, as a whānau, has helped us to connect and grow together, building a positive and fun environment around language learning. Although we are at very different levels and stages of speaking te reo – from completely fluent to a very basic learner level, between us, we have learnt patience, grace, encouragement and that mistakes are ok. Because you’re playing a game, you’re reminded that even the very basic learner of te reo Māori can be the champion and keeps the fluent speaker both humble and hungry for success.
One way that begins to break down barriers is by making the learning fun. This is where our range of Papaki kēmu (games) were born. Our Te Arareo Māori publishing team at CORE Education scoped the range of resources available in both English and Māori-medium schools at the time, and found there was a good range of charts, posters and books, but a very small number of fun and engaging games specifically for encouraging the use of te reo Māori. Papaki were originally created for our most basic te reo Māori learners at preschool and primary schools, however we quickly realised that these kēmu (games) would be suitable for all ages and levels of te reo Māori proficiency.
The key aspects of making an effective language learning game include:
- Being fun and entertaining
- Using a context for the language use
- Encouraging communication
- Promoting participants to speak the language
- Some strategic thinking to understand the why of the game
- Using a range of senses (e.g. sight, sound, touch etc.)
Papaki is a game which combines memory skills and snap skills, and adds an extra element of introducing the Māori kupu (word) for each of the individual images. Once the game begins you quickly start to recognise an image or two, and the associated Māori words, and to progress further and faster in the game. The aim is to encourage quick recognition and add extra kupu (words) to your now growing vocabulary. As you become engrossed in the game by having fun, the barriers you may have had around giving Māori a go quickly begin to decrease!
When I observe people playing this game with others who have been apprehensive about learning te reo Māori, they don’t realise the language skills they’re acquiring. Players are simply focused on doing well in the game. They have more positive feelings or emotions associated with te reo Māori rather than barriers.
Learning in this way motivates the desire to further your language skills and works as a stimulant to continue your language journey and engage with te reo Māori more frequently.
So how are you going to add a little bit of fun to your te reo journey? You might like to join me and many others by playing Papaki!
Papaki is a simple pattern recognition game, designed by CORE Education, where players aim to match an image shown on two cards.
Use the kupu (word) cards included in the pack to learn the Māori names for each symbol.
Papaki can be used at home, in the classroom, in the workplace – almost anywhere.
All images are by CORE Education, all rights reserved.