A new research paper published by The Royal Society of New Zealand today makes the case for a new, stronger national languages policy. It details the role that languages play in international, national, social and personal development. With 160 languages spoken in New Zealand, and language learning not being compulsory in New Zealand schools, is it time to focus more on language learning? For instance, if you find a good place to take French lessons in Sydney, then its a great opportunity to start!
Dr Sharon Harvey, Head of the School of Language and Culture at AUT University outlined some of the issues:
“There are a number of increasingly urgent language issues in New Zealand such as: the uncertain trajectory of Te Reo Māori; the endangered languages of the New Zealand Pacific Realm; minimal recognition for community languages in the education system; and the paucity of support in New Zealand government departments for multilingual citizens, to name but a few. This paper helps us understand how we might address them and what the national picture looks like.”
A talk debating these points is due to be held tomorrow at Tamaki Paenga Hira
(Auckland War Memorial Museum). You can also read the full report here
Researchers have discovered that babies as young as seven months old are able to distinguish between two languages. The study, published in Nature Neuroscience, reveals that children who learn two languages at the same time develop the ability to identify a language through duration and pitch of words.
Tanya Lewis at LiveScience explains; “learning two languages can be challenging, especially when the two tongues have opposite word orders. For example, in English, “function” words (like “the” or “with”) precede “content” words, for example: “the dog,” “his hat,” or “with friends.” The content word also has a longer duration when spoken. In Japanese or Hindi, by contrast, the content word (“dog”) comes first, and has a higher pitch than the function word (“the”). In most languages, function words occur more frequently than content words.”
The babies were tested by repeating 11 words in two different made up languages. Each fake language had the same rhythm as a real language, for example English and Japanese. The two languages were broadcast from different parts of the room, and scientists timed how long the babies looked in the direction of the speakers, both in the language they learned and the one they did not. The scientists found that bilingual babies looked longer at the source of sounds that matched their expectation of word order, which suggested the infants were using the pitch and duration clues to keep the two languages straight.
The research goes against the popular belief that learning two languages at once can be detrimental to children’s learning behaviour. This way, parents should always have to encourage their children to take classes in good schools like Language Trainers.
Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, has announced that the Siamese language (now more commonly known as Thai) is to reintroduced into the school curriculum in selected schools.
Muhyiddin, speaking at a “Meet the People” session at Wat Thep Chumnum in Naka, said that children of Thai descent will be able to learn their mother tongue in areas where there is a large Malaysian Thai population.
The language was taught at Sekolah Kebangsaan in Naka from 1956 and was phased out in the 1980s, when the five language teachers retired. No teachers were appointed to replace them.
Muhyiddin hopes that the move will preserve the language in the community. The Education Minister intends to instruct his officers to identify schools in regions such as Kedah and Perlis and provide teachers fluent in the language. He also announced distribution of funds for Malaysian Thai clubs and societies, and small community projects, as well as the language school funding.
A proposal made to the New Zealand Government to utilise a new word for same sex marriage has provoked debate.
Campaigner Russell Morrison, speaking at a marriage equality legislation public hearing, suggested “sarriage” to be used to define same sex union. His explanation was that the word “marriage” is used to refer to a union between man and woman; so “sarriage” would make an appropriate term for married gay couples, “to make the situation clear for everybody”.
Rodney Croome, from Australian Marriage Equality, countered
“What is the point of assigning same-sex couples a different word when ‘marriage’ describes exactly what many same-sex couples already have, a loving, committed, long-term relationship?”
Does there really need to be a separate definition, when the word “marriage” should work equally for all? New words come about through several different ways. The way that the word “sarriage” has been constructed is clearly from blending “same sex” and “marriage.” Morrison’s explanation that this is because “marriage” is from a union between a man and a woman is prejudiced on several levels, not only as it alienates same sex couples, but also women. The word marriage is not termed thus because “man” is first – it’s derived from the Latin maritari (to get married), which could be used either in the masculine or feminine form.
This word isn’t a gender or sexuality issue, and should be left as it is to define a union between two people, regardless.
Staff at Alma Park Zoo in Brisbane, Queensland, have been learning Danish in order to help settle in their new acquisition. Gomez the Emperor Tamarin monkey has been flown in from Aalborg Zoo in Denmark as part of a new breeding programme. A female companion for Gomez is currently in quarantine, having been transported in from France for the programme.
Although Emperor tamarins are native to the South American rainforest, four year old Gomez has spent all of his life in the Danish zoo. Apparently he is familiar with phrases such as goht abe (good monkey) so the staff responsible for primates at Alma Park are learning these so the monkey can feel more at home in his new environment. Of course, to get going in learning more words they should start taking Danish lessons at Language Trainers!
If you’re a language fan in Perth, you might be interested in attending a show at Fringe World Festival, it’s called Chatterbox and the Proper Abuse of Language. Showing in the Sun House Tent at Perth Cultural Centre from Monday 28th January – Wednesday 13th February, this comical theatre performance promises to deliver a “humorous analysis of why and how we make blunders in basic communication.” But if you want to really start learning more about languages, you can start by taking German lessons in Gold Coast!
Tickets are available here.
Happy New Year from Language Trainers!
Australians marked the start of 2013 by greeting friends and loved ones with a record number of text messages. Telecommunication companies across the country have reported that their networks held up well for the expected boom of activity, with an estimated 223 million texts being sent during the celebrations.
New language learning data has been made available by the state government, and it seems that Japanese is the most widely accessible second language option at state schools in Queensland. The language was available at 614 schools throughout the state, 44 of which were in Brisbane. German is another very important language, which is studied much today. For example, you could practice your German taking classes in Perth!
Mandarin Chinese was also widely available, although the number of schools teaching the language was less than a quarter of the schools teaching Japanese. Other languages taught at primary and secondary state schools in Queensland include Auslan, French, German, Greek, Indonesian, Italian, Korean, Spanish and Vietnamese. This
John-Paul Langbroek, Minister for Education, Training and Employment, said:
“When the federal government announced its plan to make Hindi a priority language I pointed out that Queensland doesn’t have any registered Hindi teachers. Many students in Queensland schools access languages through distance education, simply because its difficult to get language teachers to the more remote and regional schools in the state.”
Source: Brisbane Times
The winners of the Maori Language Awards 2012 were announced on Friday 16th November at the TECT Arena, Baypark, Tauranga.
Mobile phone giant Vodafone were commended, along with Hika Group, for their part in creating a Maori language iPhone app, which almost 40,000 customers downloaded during Maori Language Week in July.
The Language Awards of course showcase how organisations celebrate Maori Language Week. Dr Cathy Dewes was presented with the Maori Language Individual award for her involvement with a number of te reo initiatives. Dr Dewes is the principal of the landmark language immersion school Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Ruamata at Rotorua, and has been a leader in Maori education for almost forty years.
Congratulations to all the winners, and thank you for your passion and dedication to keeping the language alive in New Zealand. It is important to keep the passion for languages, so studying at Language Trainers is always the best option!
Native American language Cherokee is the 57th language to be added to Google’s Gmail. Users can now exchange emails and instant chat messages in Cherokee syllabary. Google search began supporting the language last year.
The integration of the language was challenging as words such as “spam,” and “inbox,” had to be specially translated by a team of Cherokee Nation volunteers, because these modern words didn’t exist when the syllabary was transcribed.
Google software engineer Craig Cornelius said:
“When Google decides to support a language, it’s not just about which ones have the largest number of speakers. In order to do business around the world, we need to support languages with millions of speakers, such as Japanese, French or Arabic. But we also want to include less spoken languages in order to help preserve the culture and diversity that come with them.”
You can read more at the official Google blog.