New teaching approach to accelerate bilingual learning

By Mānia Clarke-Mamanu

New research from Auckland University shows that pupils in kura kaupapa Māori-language immersion schools who have English introduced to their lessons gain a better grasp of both languages. The research was conducted by Dr Sophie Tauwehe Tamati. 

Dr Tamati says Transacquisition Pedagogy is a new teaching approach aimed at accelerating literacy development in bilingual children.

"Using this teaching approach works with students years 7 and 8.  They can learn another language faster than their English."

Under her theory, instead of kura kaupapa Māori students having English introduced at secondary school level, it should start when the pupils are aged 11 and 12.

"There's a misconception by most that the children taught in Māori-medium schools will quickly revert to speaking English. I also thought that way."

Dr Tamati carried out her research in two kura kaupapa Māori and used her Transacquisition teaching approach with 24 year 7 and 8 students also, over an 8-week intervention programme.

"The growth of the kahikatea is similar to how languages are attained in the mind of a person. If When the tree grows its roots branch out and enable a second tree, third, etc to grow."

The research showed the kura students had improved their English literacy at a rate that was 5.87 times faster than a similarly abled group in a decile 10 English-medium school.

The teaching approach by Dr Tamati was part of her PhD thesis, which will be published as a resource for teachers in New Zealand and also overseas.