By: Sonya Bateson

Learning another language at school is a great idea. Photo/Getty Images

All Kiwi kids could soon be multilingual.

National’s education spokeswoman Nikki Kaye has released a private member’s bill that would require primary and intermediate schools to offer at least one language other than English.

I reckon this is a fantastic idea, although the logistics of how it would work is another debate altogether.

Learning a second language improves the functionality of your brain and has a raft of other benefits including helping to improve your native language-speaking skills and your memory.

It also gives you a deeper understanding of the other culture, learning the reasons behind why things are phrased a certain way or the origin of words in that tongue.

Once you pick up one language, it makes it easier to learn other languages.

Te reo is perfect for this.

As it’s a language our children come across every day in school and in the community, it’s an easier language for a New Zealand child to pick up than, say, Mandarin, which is far less familiar in our day-to-day life.

With those building blocks, it’s easier to springboard to international languages.

When I was at intermediate school, I had a teacher who was fluent in te reo, and she would often pepper her speech with Maori words, giving me a familiarity with the language that has served me well in later life.

It made it far easier for me to learn Japanese at high school as the two languages share similarities like the “a ha ka ma” pronunciation and the rolled Rs.

Other countries require their young people to be fluent in more than one language.

According to The Pew Research Centre, almost every country in Europe requires students to learn a foreign language.

It’s something I think is worth emulating in our neck of the woods.

Source: Bay of Plenty Times


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