Why Language Learning Matters

Benefits of language use and learning

He Taonga nga Reo Katoa

‘All Languages are to be Treasured’

New Zealand has a de facto language - English, and two official languages - Te reo Māori and NZ Sign Language (NZSL).

We are committed to a bilingual Aotearoa New Zealand - and the importance of Te Tiriti in all we do in education. We value the importance of learning Te Reo Māori to develop cultural capability and deepen understanding of self and identity in Aotearoa no matter what one’s background.

NZ is multicultural, and has broad international appeal. Having a society that can communicate in multiple languages is vital. The benefits of learning and using languages, and understanding different cultures,  can be seen at three levels - personal, family and community, national and internationally:

  • It helps students see their place on our big blue marble

  • It builds connections internationally for travel and trade, a vital part of our economy

  • As an official language in our country, te reo Māori offers significant personal, academic, cultural, educational, economic, social and linguistic benefits for all New Zealanders, which in turn supports the development and celebration of our national identity, protects the distinctiveness of our indigenous people, and contributes to the success of and engagement with the economy.

  • The Deaf community is becoming ever more visible in the media these days and interest is increasing among the Hearing community to learn and appreciate NZSL.  We offer support to schools to begin language programmes that include NZSL and have a range of resources and connections to make this a viable option for schools.

Students have their learning enhanced through maintaining their own languages and learning a new language. Learning a language gives them insights into cultures, new ways of thinking and ideas that support intercultural understanding, while also improving their job prospects here and overseas.

For some students, it also helps them learn and sustain their mother tongue.

“Learning a language provides a means of communicating with people from another culture and exploring one’s own personally world. Languages are inseparably linked to the social and cultural context in which they are used. Languages and cultures play a key role in developing our personal, group, national and human identities.  Every language has its own ways of expressing meanings. Each has intrinsic value and special significance for its users” (NZC)

Students maintaining and learning languages spoken in their local community have greater opportunities to interact across diverse groups and are able to interact more effectively across generations in immigrant families creating greater family cohesion. Students should also gain a greater appreciation of the role that language plays in the identity of Māori as tangata whenua and as a New Zealander.

We believe that if more people can learn to communicate effectively across cultures, then Aotearoa New Zealand benefits as a country. We enhance our educational outcomes, our national identity, and we enable New Zealanders to act as constructive and engaged global citizens.

Realm Languages
Pasifika people have strong geographical, political, cultural and historical ties and relationships with Aotearoa New Zealand. Aotearoa New Zealand has particular responsibility for the legal Realm of New Zealand, made up of Tokelau as a territory of Aotearoa New Zealand, and the Cook Islands and Niue as self-governing states in free association with Aotearoa New Zealand. Close links remain with Samoa through the Treaty of Friendship as well as with other Pacific nations such as Tonga. For many Pacific nations, a significant proportion of their population reside live in Aotearoa New Zealand. Maintenance of Keeping their language and culture alive  is of central great interest to many within Pacific communities. The Tokelauan, Cook Islands Māori and Niuean languages in particular are facing intergenerational extinction because of low numbers of native language speakers in the early childhood and school age years. 

We provide professional development in language teaching pedagogy across all languages.

Our National Language Advisers provide language & cultural support to teachers of the languages below: