The USP Cook Islands Māori Language cohort.
The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Cook Islands campus recently completed the first full Cook Islands Māori language flexi-school taught by Dr. Akevai Nicholas from the Auckland University of Technology.
The January flexi-school was the second of 12 courses students have been taking, as part of the new Diploma in Cook Islands Māori.
The diploma is structured so that general linguistics papers are taken in-semester and face-to-face Māori language courses in January flexi- schools.
Twenty-three (23) students joined the flexi-school from six (6) islands in the Cook Islands, two of who are completing the Masters in Applied Linguistics.
One student is completing a BA GCED in Geography and Cook Islands Māori, while the remainder were mainly teachers of the language undergoing professional development through the diploma.
During the course students were introduced to the idea of engaging with popular culture in language maintenance and revitalisation, such as dubbing Star Wars and Batman films into the language.
Students were also encouraged to use tablets, phone and online technologies such as Toondo to create comic strips, cartoons and animations in the language.
A final assignment was to make lesson plans utilising these tools as learning and teaching devices for students and teachers of the language.
Dr. Nicholas said, “I was very happy with how well the flexi-school went. I cannot quite believe how much we managed to achieve in such a short time”.
“I am also really pleased that so many students were really interested in the grammar side of things and got excited about how amazingly complex our language actually is. That is a pretty important message after 200 years of being told our language is inferior to English - a very damaging idea,” Dr Nicholas said.
Following approval of the Diploma and degree major in Cook Island Maori in May 2017, complementary programmes in the Tongan and Niuafo'ou, Vagahau Niue, and Vanuatu languages are currently under consideration for offer by the University.
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