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New Zealand teachers to learn from Welsh counterparts

02/10/2012 Joanna
A small group of New Zealand teachers has arrived Wales to learn more about successful bilingual education.

Stacey Reriti-Smith (Natone Park School, Porirua), Piata Allen (Massey High School, Waitakere), Viki Exter (Roslyn Kindergarten, Palmerston North) and Nichola McCall (Manurewa High School, Manukau) will meet with people working in a variety of different jobs in education.

The four practitioners' trip was funded through the Linking Minds scholarship organised by the British Council in partnership with the Ministry of Education, NZ-UK Link Foundation and the NZ Teachers Council.

Ms McCall, age 27, told the BBC that she wants to learn more about how to balance English and the Maori tongue 'te reo' in the classroom.

"I want to speak to community leaders, principals and teachers in Wales and find out how they manage to get that equality between the two languages," she said.
"That's something that I want to bring back here [to New Zealand], and it's something that I'm really passionate about."

Unlike in Wales where Welsh is now a compulsory subject, te reo is only an optional part of the curriculum at English-medium schools, although there are a number of Maori-medium schools, the BBC reported. 

However, considering there were fears that te reo could die out at one stage, these schools have played a vital part in keeping the language alive.

Those in education jobs can gain a great deal from meeting with other teachers from different schools, especially when this involves international collaboration.

In a recent interview with the Guardian, Sandra Underwood, who teaches modern foreign languages at Lytham St Anne's Technology and Performing Arts College in Lancashire, spoke about how her involvement with the eTwinning programme has broadened her horizons.

"I have gained invaluable knowledge, as well as learning about various teaching methods and styles that I would not have known about had I not been part of the network," she said.

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