9 Jul 2014

American Samoans hear benefits of bilingual teaching

4:08 pm on 9 July 2014

The introduction of bilingual instruction in classrooms in American Samoa is expected to increase student success.

Bilingual education experts from New Zealand addressed Department of Education personnel, church ministers, parents and students in Pago Pago this week.

The keynote speaker, Galumalemana Alfred Hunkin, says for 40 years English has been the main language of instruction in the territory but there is a low pass rate in students' basic standard tests.

Galumalemana Alfred Hunkin

Galumalemana Alfred Hunkin Photo: RNZ Monica Miller

That's prompted the director of education and the government to introduce teaching in Samoan and English in the new school year .

Galumalemana cited research that show pupils do better when taught in their first language.

"The skills and approaches used by a child in using and learning about his or her first language to listen, to speak, to write, and to read will be more than useful and can be transferred to the learning and the use of his or her second language."

New Zealand bilingual education expert Galumalemana Alfred Hunkin.