This year is International Year of Indigenous Languages, and a fantastic opportunity to celebrate Aotearoa’s diversity of people, cultures and languages.
In support of International Mother Language Day (21 February) and Race Relations Day (21 March), English Language Partners New Zealand (ELPNZ) and Community Languages Association of New Zealand (CLANZ) have created a poster featuring the phrase “Our people, our cultures, our languages” in 29 languages, including Maori, NZ Sign Language and English.
“It’s important to support people to keep their mother language alive at home and in the community,” says Birgit Grafarend-Watungwa, Operations Manager for English Language Partners. “Kiwis are becoming more multilingual, and it’s great for our country.”
Birgit speaks German, her native language, to her daughter, Naima, as much as possible. “It enriches her life hugely to be able to speak two languages fluently,” Birgit says. “She gains an understanding of how another culture thinks, and she’s able to view the world a bit differently. Now Naima has two languages, it’s much easier to learn more. She’s keen on te reo and French, so I’m going to encourage her!”
The Year of Indigenous Languages reminds Kiwis of the importance of looking after and nurturing Aotearoa’s growing number of languages. As the world becomes more closely interconnected, the opportunity for Kiwis who learn languages also grows.
“Travelling and working overseas will be easier for Naima, and New Zealand may well benefit from her multilingualism too,” says Birgit.
This year’s poster features a mix of flowers from around the world, chosen for their significance to many of Aotearoa’s ethnic communities. The design symbolises the many different nationalities and ethnicities that today make up our country’s unique identity.
Nationally, ELPNZ works with over 7,000 former refugees and migrants. Over 1,700 volunteers, including some from different cultural backgrounds, help by teaching English. “ESOL Home Tutoring trains people to work with adult learners at home – helping them learn English so they can live and work more easily in New Zealand,” says Birgit. “If you’d like to get involved, we’d love to hear from you.”
For a paper poster, contact English Language Partners New Zealand email@example.com. Posters are free (while stocks last), however, we need to recover costs for post and packaging ($10.00 North Island | $15.00 South Island)