Second language learning Bill an opportunity for NZ
A Bill that will ensure every child in years 1-8 has the opportunity to learn a second language was drawn from the
Ballot yesterday, National MP for Auckland Central Nikki Kaye says.
“Speaking more than one language has enormous cognitive, cultural, social and economic benefits. New Zealand is a
diverse country where 160 languages are spoken, and it’s important that what’s being taught in schools reflects that.
“My Bill would require the Minister of Education to set at least ten national priority languages for schools following
public consultation, and places a requirement on the Crown to resource teaching these languages in primary and
“It will be up to school boards to decide which of the priority languages will be taught at their school. Every school
will be required to deliver at least one second language, but some may choose to offer more than one.
“The Bill makes it clear that Te Reo Māori and New Zealand Sign Languages will, as the official languages of New
Zealand, be on the final list of ten or more priority languages schools can choose from. I’d expect that other languages
that would be consulted on would include Mandarin, French, Spanish, Japanese, Korean and potentially Hindi.
“There is widespread support for the Bill, with an Asia New Zealand Foundation survey showing 80 per cent of New
Zealanders think that school children should learn a language other than English. It has also been great to see a number
of language specialists and leaders call on MPs to send the Bill to select committee for wider public debate.
“Having the ability to speak a second language can be the difference in children being able to speak with their
grandparents or young businesses leaders being able to better connect to markets like China and India. The Bill, with a
comprehensive implementation plan, would also see a lot more young New Zealanders speaking Te Reo.
“I plan to meet with key political leaders from every Party in Parliament to discuss the Bill and ask for their support.
I am optimistic that they will support the Bill because they understand the importance of second language learning.
“I do not underestimate the investment and careful planning required to deliver this policy. I am keen to work
cross-party on an implementation plan, as this initiative will require the support of successive governments.
“My Bill presents an opportunity to invest in our country’s future. I am looking forward to a national conversation on
how we can strengthen second language learning in schools and create smarter, more culturally aware students who are
better equipped to succeed in New Zealand and overseas.”