LINGUIST List 15.14

Mon Jan 12 2004

Diss: Applied Ling: Keegan: 'The Maori...'

Editor for this issue: Takako Matsui <>


  1. p.keegan, The Maori Vocabulary Knowledge of Year 6 students...

Message 1: The Maori Vocabulary Knowledge of Year 6 students...

Date: Mon, 29 Dec 2003 16:02:54 -0500 (EST)
From: p.keegan <>
Subject: The Maori Vocabulary Knowledge of Year 6 students...

Institution: Victoria University of Wellington
Program: School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2003

Author: Peter J Keegan

Dissertation Title: The Maori Vocabulary Knowledge of Year 6
students in Maori-Medium Education

Dissertation URL:

Linguistic Field: Applied Linguistics

Subject Language: Maori (code: MBF)

Subject Language Family: Austronesian (code: )

Dissertation Director 1: John Read

Dissertation Abstract:

Since the 1970s there have been enormous efforts in Aotearoa/New
Zealand to revitalize M�ori as a language for everyday communication,
particularly in educational settings. These efforts are given urgency
by the fact that the most current estimate by Te Puni K�kiri (the
Ministry of M�ori Development) indicates that M�ori is spoken fairly
well or better by only 20 % of the adult Mori population. Immersion
education is making an important contribution to M�ori language
revitalization. As part of this initiative, thousands of new M�ori
words have been created to facilitate the teaching of all curriculum
subjects through the medium of M�ori in the compulsory school
sector. However, many of these new terms are not yet well known and
cause difficulties for those involved in M�ori-medium education. This
raises the question of whether the students being educated in these
schools have adequate knowledge of vocabulary to achieve the
objectives of the national curriculum through the medium of M�ori.

This study looked at the M�ori vocabulary knowledge of Year 6
M�ori-medium students whose major source of M�ori language input was
the classroom. One hundred and nine students from 12 schools
throughout the North Island undertook tasks designed to assess their
vocabulary knowledge and ability. The tasks, which were based on
typical communicative and academic activities in the classroom,
included measures of vocabulary size, reading comprehension, listening
comprehension, writing and mathematical knowledge. Although there
were problems in defining what represented an adequate vocabulary
knowledge in the context of M�ori-medium education, it was found that
most of the students had sufficient knowledge to complete the tasks.
However, it appeared that some students had difficulty with
contemporary or technical terms, many of which are not yet established
in the lexicon. Additional data on educational and social variables
obtained through surveys of the parents and teachers showed that
having at least one parent who was a teacher was significantly
associated with student achievement on the tasks used in this study.

It was clear from the research results and the researcher's
observations that the schools participating in the study were
providing a positive learning experience for their students. However,
further expansion and standardization of the M�ori lexicon,
particularly in the areas covered by the school curriculum, will be
necessary to help ensure that the schools have a long-term impact on
both the revitalization of the language and enhanced educational
achievement by M�ori students.
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