Combating a Monolingual New Zealand
The Confucius Institute’s Mandarin Language Assistants’ (MLA) programme was highlighted in this week’s RNZ Voices programme as one successful model for promoting second (and third) language learning in New Zealand schools.
Each year 150 MLAs nationwide come to New Zealand under a special Mandarin Teaching Aide quota (one of a number provided for under the NZ-China Free Trade Agreement in 2008), and are deployed to around 450 schools across the country. The VUW Confucius Institute manages 58 of these MLAs, covering nearly 150 schools between Wellington and Tauranga.
The Confucius Institute at VUW Director Rebecca Needham was interviewed for the programme. She noted that learning a second language is high beneficial for a child’s cognitive development, as well as being a practical skill that equips you in the future, not just for jobs, but for travel, meeting people and being exposed to different cultures.