National has gained support from the major political parties for its second language learning Bill which will ensure every child in years 1-8 has the opportunity to learn a second language, National’s spokesperson for Education Nikki Kaye says.

“As a diverse country it’s important that New Zealand embraces 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.

“I expect the languages that would be consulted on would include Mandarin, Māori, French, Spanish, Japanese, Korean and Hindi and Pasifika languages.

“The Minister of Education Chris Hipkins has confirmed the Labour Party will support my second language learning Bill at First Reading. This Bill would see a final list of 10 or more priority languages resourced for teaching by schools including Te Reo and sign language.

“The Green Party has also agreed to support the Bill at first reading. The Green Party has a strong interest in ensuring that we strengthen access to Te Reo in schools which would be achieved with this legislation. The Act Party has also confirmed its support for the Bill.

“The Bill will now go to select committee so the public, organisations and communities can have their say. Issues that will be worked through at select committee include details around investing in workforce development to ensure we have the teachers and ensuring adequate time is given for schools to implement this. This could be phased in over a number of years.

“School boards would consult with their communities to determine which of the priority languages will be taught at their school. Every school would be required to deliver at least one second language, but some may choose to offer more than one.

“As an Opposition MP, I am focused on holding the Government to account, but I am also committed to working constructively on education policy where possible and offering opportunities for cross-party collaboration like this Bill. I would like to thank Education Minister Chris Hipkins for his engagement and support on this Bill.

“This is a very significant step for greater support for the future of second language learning and our future. I am looking forward to a national conversation about my Bill and how it can create smarter, more culturally aware New Zealanders who are better equipped to succeed in our globally connected world.”

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