Hitting the right note- online

Learner Stories
English Language Groups

Danièle Helme’s improving her English for her new life in New Zealand.

Betsy Boeijen, her English Language Partners’ teacher, says Danièle, from Tahiti,  is a truly inspiring learner.

8-stringed Kamaka, 4-stringed ukulele, 8-stringed Tahitian ukulele

“As well as learning English, Danièle’s also a very busy volunteer,” Betsy says. Each week, Danièle plays with ‘Ukulele Rhythms’ – seven people who perform for the elderly in rest homes in the Rotorua community. “Danièle sings and plays both Tahitian and Hawaiian ukuleles.”

Music was the topic of one of Betsy’s recent ‘lockdown lessons’. “Danièle showed us her instruments, explaining the different traditional ukuleles from both countries,” she says. “It was such a great way to get people asking questions.”

Betsy says Danièle’s classmates were fascinated. “Everyone was so interested when they saw the different ukeleles,” she says. “People were totally engaged, and asked all kinds of questions; really building their confidence in English.”

Danièle had shared that she’d been feeling a bit sad as, living by herself in isolation, she hadn’t been able to perform to an audience – something she loves! When one class member asked her to perform for the class, Danièle was delighted.

After singing and playing, Danièle said the songs made her feel happy and connected with her family; her grandmother, children and her grandchildren back home in Tahiti, as she misses them all very much.

English, sharing skills and cultures are all part of learning with English Language Partners – even while classes are online!

Traditional Tahitian and Hawaiian ukuleles

  • Ukuleles are a member of the lute instruments. They can have four, six or eight strings.
  • The Tahitian instrument is called Ukulele, but in Tahiti, people call them by the shorter “ukes”. They sound similar to banjos, but are higher pitched.
  • In Hawaii, they are also called call ukuleles, but the ones with a more bass sound are called ‘Kamaka’.
  • The tuning for both Ukuleles and Kamakas is G-C-E-A.
  • Danièle says the different woods affect the sound. Her Tahitian Ukulele is made of Rosewood, Mahogany and Lychee. The Hawaiian one is made of Mahogany, Koa and Rosewood.

Danièle’s a student in our Rotorua centre’s English Language Group programme. Contact your closest centre if you’d like to join.

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English Language Groups

  • 2-4 hours per week
  • Learn Kiwi English in a class
  • Learn about New Zealand culture
  • Go on day trips
  • Meet other people in your community
  • Qualified teachers
  • Fees may apply. Ask at your centre.
  • In all centres

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