Second language in schools passes first reading

A Member’s Bill that would give children the opportunity to learn a second language in primary and intermediate schools has passed its first reading in Parliament, Auckland Central MP and National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.

The Education (Strengthening Second Language Learning in Primary and Intermediate Schools) Amendment Bill aims to ensure every child in years 1-8 has the opportunity to learn a second language.

It would require the Ministry of Education to set at least ten national priority languages for schools following public consultation, and require the Crown to support teaching these languages in primary and intermediate schools.

The bill makes it clear that Te Reo Māori and New Zealand Sign Language, as official languages of New Zealand, will be on the final list of ten or more priority languages from which schools can choose.

Other languages that would be consulted on could include Mandarin, French, Spanish, Japanese, Korean, Hindi and Pasifika languages.

“This bill passing its first reading is a significant milestone,” Ms Kaye says.

“Many people, including education leaders and community leaders have worked hard to progress second language learning in schools.

“I recognise there will be a number of issues to work through at select committee but I’m hopeful this bill will pass through all stages.

“We know the large number of parents and young people who support greater access to second language learning, and this will be exciting progress for them.

“New Zealand is a diverse country and we should embrace second language learning. Speaking more than one language has enormous cognitive, cultural, social and economic benefits so this bill presents a big opportunity for our country.

“This is a significant first step towards creating smarter, more culturally aware New Zealanders who are better equipped to succeed in our globally connected world.”