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The Essence of Learning Second Languages in the New Zealand School Context

In: People

Submitted By MacGyver
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The DES already includes a number of statements that fully represent the benefits of learning a second language. The statements can be divided into two broad categories: societal benefits (e.g. te reo Māori is an irreplaceable source of our nation’s self-knowledge and identity) and personal benefits. The personal benefits can be further subdivided into cognitive (e.g. Communicating with people within and across communities, cultures and nations enables students to engage with new ways of thinking, questioning, and interpreting their world) and individual social benefits (e.g. As they progress, they develop their awareness of languages and so expand their sense of identity and belonging). Section 2.4 will discuss the statements under these categories in more detail. It should be noted that most of these statements are claims – they represent best hopes for language learning and are therefore values and beliefs held by the language teaching profession. Thus, the status of this part of the essence document is motivational – it presents a vision of what language learning and use can be at their most successful. Such a vision is entirely appropriate at this level of documentation. Because it is motivational, however, it should take account of achievement at all levels. Although the longer term personal goals of intercultural communication are attainable only at more advanced levels of acquisition, those who study a language for a year for a few hours a week can also derive tangible benefits. The DES suggests that language learning benefits all: a partial knowledge of a second language is certainly not a failure. To back up this claim, the benefits gained at early stages of learning need to be signalled as positive achievements. This notion is discussed in more detail in Section...

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