3 Mar 2014

Pasifika kids 'lose language' at school

1:19 pm on 3 March 2014

A languages expert says the Government's refusal to provide resources for bilingual schooling for Pasifika children is making them speak only English by the time they leave school.

The head of languages at Auckland University of Technology, Sharon Harvey, says New Zealand effectively has an English-only policy in all primary schools apart from kura kaupapa Maori.

She says some Pasifika children can speak English and at least one Pacific language when they start school. But by the time they leave, they speak only English.

"What we see is those children leaving New Zealand schools with only one language effectively and that's English. And that's enormously inefficient for an education system to be drawing in children that have bi-lingual capabilities and turning them out mono-lingual."

Associate Professor Harvey says it's puzzling the Government doesn't recognise the benefits of bilingual education in raising achievement.