18 Aug 2006

French Polynesia trials English among pre-schoolers

5:46 pm on 18 August 2006

The government in French Polynesia is trialling the use of English among pre-schoolers as part of a drive towards trilingualism.

Toddlers at a select group of kindergartens in Papeete will be introduced to English this school term.

The move is part of a drive to produce a generation of people able to speak French, Reo Maohi or Tahitian and English.

Tea Hirshon, an MP for the pro-independence party Tavini Huira'atira, says the initiative is long overdue.

She's says learning English is a necessity, if French Polynesia is to thrive.

"If we are going to trade and exchange we need to speak English and also our main source of income is tourism and I would say that the majority of tourists who come here are English speaking people."

Tea Hirshon says the scheme will test the ability of children as young as three years old to learn several languages.

She says a trial will also be carried out with teenage pupils focussing on English and Pacific issues.