Digital technology lowers cost of Māori language learning

10 Mar, 2015
Digital technology lowers cost of Māori language learning
AUT lecturer Hēmi Kelly says Te Pihinga is giving him ready access to exercises and learning materials for his students’ language learning journey.

Māori language learners will benefit from more affordable and increased digital learning support thanks to the further development of AUT University’s Te Whanake app series for Apple iPads and Android tablets.

Te Pihinga, launched this week, sits at the lower-intermediate level of the Māori language course and follows on from Te Kākano which was introduced to Te Whanake in May last year by Te Ipukarea, AUT’s National Māori Language Institute.

The Te Whanake app is a free container app and within that are in-app purchases for each Māori language learning level. The cost to download Te Pihinga is $19.99 - a more affordable option for intermediate Māori language learners.

AUT Professor in Māori Innovation and Development, John Moorfield, says this second stage of the Te Whanake app development is a major step forward in improving the programme for learners from beginner through to advanced level te reo Māori.

“Digital innovations like this are enabling more affordable and accessible learning opportunities for students of te reo Māori.”

Māori language learners, including students of AUT’s Faculty of Māori and Indigenous Development/Te Ara Poutama have the option of using hard copy textbooks which retail at $62.56 + GST, study guides and dictionaries, along with online resources, or of purchasing the less expensive Te Kākano and/or the Te Pihinga stages of the Te Whanake app. The Te Whanake app also allows quick access to the popular Te Aka online dictionary.

“As well as the increased mobility that an app on an iPad or Android tablet provides, the Te Kākano and the Te Pihinga stages of the app also bring together the textbook, animations, podcasts, exercise sheets and the TV programmes of the Te Whanake series in one structured programme,” says Professor Moorfield.

The team will also be introducing a study guide within the app that will be available later this year as a free upgrade.

Moorfield adds that the app language series is also a great resource for teachers and educators.

“It’s structured programme format introduces particular exercises and activities from the various resources at the appropriate time,” says Professor Moorfield.

AUT lecturer Hēmi Kelly who teaches the intermediate level Māori language classes says he is looking forward to seeing how his students engage with Te Pihinga in digital format.

“And as a language teacher, Te Pihinga is giving me ready access to exercises and learning materials for each learners’ language learning journey.”

Professor Moorfield, with support from AUT Professor Tania Ka’ai and Te Ipukarea staff, created the resources that make up the Te Whanake series while the technical development of the app itself has been done through web and mobile developers and designers, VO2 Web Design.

The development team will now set about producing the third stage of the Te Whanake app, Te Māhuri, the upper-intermediate level course in Māori language, for release later this year.

“Te Ara Poutama and Te Ipukarea are proud to be helping promote bilingualism in New Zealand through initiatives like Te Whanake,” says Professor Moorfield.

The Te Whanake app is available to download for tablet devices in the Apple app store and Google Play.

Maori language in New Zealand (Source: 2013 Te Kupenga survey, Statistics New Zealand)

  1. 257,500 (55 per cent) Māori adults had some ability to speak te reo Māori; that is, they were able to speak more than a few words or phrases in the language. This compares with 153,500 (42 percent) in 2001.
  2. 50,000 (11 per cent) Māori adults could speak te reo Māori very well or well; that is, they could speak about almost anything or many things in Māori.
  3. Between 2001 and 2013 there was a large increase in the proportion of younger Māori who reported some ability to speak te reo Māori.
  4. 164,500 (35 per cent) Māori adults reported speaking some te reo Māori within the home.