This week our task in Te Puāwai is to record and share our journey integrating some of the classroom commands into the classroom or home. Our kōrero must include the following:
1. A list of the different commands in te reo Māori that you have been using
2. What challenges you faced integrating these commands into everyday conversations
3. What benefits or growth you may have noticed as a result of speaking the commands in te reo Māori rather than in English
4. What are your next steps, what will you do next to continue learning and using more te reo Māori in your class or home
Over the last few weeks I have been working on integrating as many Māori kupu into my mahi as possible. Working at home doesn’t make that easy – I can hardly talk to myself! Well, actually, I do! I have post it notes all over my office with kupu and kiwaha written on them and I say them out loud to myself whenever I look up and see them. We have a morning coffee Skype group and always start off asking each other ‘Kei te pēhea koe?’ and responding appropriately. Renee helps us work out words we don’t know, which is great.
When I send emails to schools and colleagues I try to use the appropriate greetings for the time of day such as ata marie, morena, kia ora… Last week we ran a workshop for a group of schools and we incorporated a few of our greetings and commands. e.g. saying hello and introducing ourselves, e tū, e noho, whakaporowhitia, he whakaaro anō ā koutou, kuamārama koutou. I think the main difficulty was that the group of people were all Pākeha and so using Te Reo sounded quite unnatural and the teachers didn’t respond until we repeated in English so we didn’t get the immediate feedback which encourages more language.
The use of the target language followed immediately by English has been a constant tension in my world as a language teacher. It is generally accepted that immersion in a language is the absolute best way to learn but, of course, that leads to people, however open they are to learning, frustrated when they don’t understand. My life in the classroom has been one of hand gestures, role play and generally looking bonkers as I jump around acting out my own version of charades to try to get across what I am trying to say to my students! By following up with an English translation, accepted wisdom is that learners don’t bother working out the target language as they know that you will say it in English eventually. But I guess that at the moment the aim of my using Te Reo in workshops is not necessarily to teach others but to learn myself, become familiar with using the language and to develop ways of working which are culturally responsive. And although I still feel a bit awkward using Te Reo, as I become more confident, it is getting easier. A positive by-product is that by integrating Te Reo in my everyday and working life it becomes embedded not only for me but for others, and starts to become more of a ‘lingua franca’ in this supposedly ‘tri-lingual’ and ‘bi-cultural’ country!
Next steps are to keep going and using Te Reo when and where possible. I had an interesting situation last week when in my role as a BOT member I had a meeting with some Māori students and their whānau. I was very conscious of the fact that the BOT are all Pākeha and I wanted to greet the students and the whānau in a culturally appropriate way. It is difficult to know what the impact was but I would like to think that it made a difference. I have decided too, after reading one of the “strategies for learning” posts in the Moodle course that I will write the date in Te Reo in my notebook each day and as I am trying to post a photo a day this year on my blog, that I will start writing the date in Te Reo – could be a challenge but it will make me think every day!
Here is today’s blogpost – Ra 201, Rātū, 19 o Hōnongoi 2016
I also made a video to practise and embed the commands into my (very slow) brain!