Responding to language diversity in Auckland

Auckland is New Zealand’s most culturally diverse city, with over 100 ethnicities and more than 150 languages spoken on a daily basis. Thirty‑nine percent of Auckland residents were born outside of New Zealand and 51 percent of Auckland’s population are multi‑lingual. 

The learner population in Auckland and New Zealand is rapidly becoming heterogeneous, as is evident through the diversity of learners’ ethnicity, language, heritage, and immigration status.

How are schools and early learning services in Auckland responding to this increasing cultural and language diversity? This question was the basis for a new evaluation published by ERO today, Responding to Language Diversity in Auckland (April 2018). 

“Our evaluation found that while most educators are welcoming and helpful many need to improve their response to culturally and linguistically diverse learners, and to support their acquisition of the English language.  They can do this through intentionally using a home language or cultural lens to support children’s learning of English, and to engage with their parents and communities.” said Chief Review Officer Nicholas Pole.

“This report is intended to assist leaders and teachers, by identifying strategies used by a selection of schools and services that were considered by experts to have developed good practice.”

“Working very closely with families and giving them opportunities to participate meaningfully in the learning environment, was the most effective way to help culturally diverse learners settle and succeed. 

“This individual work was amplified in schools and learning services which incorporated diverse cultural perspectives and activities into their curriculum.  The curriculum helped all the children (regardless of background) experience the richness of diverse perspectives, and fostered a broader school environment of inclusivity.”

Some leaders employed teachers who spoke relevant languages, and encouraged all teaching staff to gain TESSOL qualifications.

“In this school anyone who speaks another language is valued as a resource to support children, their wellbeing and sense of belonging. This includes office and ancillary staff, teacher aides, teachers, ESOL teachers, school leaders, parents/whanau, and the students.” - (large secondary school)

These three strands – working closely with families, building language and cultural diversity into the curriculum, and hiring appropriately qualified staff – formed the basis for all the successful and exciting initiatives developed at early learning services and schools described in this report.