Students sharing stories in first language

Penning prose in their mother tongue

LUCY TOWNEND
Last updated 07:33 29/05/2014
Migrant
MURRAY WILSON/FAIRFAX NZ

OUR STORY: Palmerston North Intermediate Normal School pupils, from left, Jacob Lee, 11, and Paul Lee, 11, (no relation) work on their Korean essay under the guidance of adult mentor Nina Song.

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Palmerston North school children have had a helping hand in penning and perfecting prose in their mother tongue.

More than 40 ESOL pupils, or English for speakers of other languages, from Palmerston North Intermediate Normal School learned the value of story-writing in their native language through the First Voice programme yesterday.

The venture sees the school, the Manawatu Multicultural Centre and the Palmerston North City Library working in partnership to publish a collection of stories written by the children in their first language.

Volunteers from the Multicultural Centre act as mentors, supporting students with vocabulary, spelling and proofreading.

The students complete a profile page on themselves and then publish a story based around this year's theme of "celebrations".

A special assembly is held later in the year where students share their stories with the school as well as talking about their language and culture.

Paul Lee, 11, from Korea, wrote about Chuseok, a three-day Korean holiday in August where the Autumn harvest was celebrated.

ESOL teacher Barb Drake said the aim was to maintain the students' mother tongue and instil a sense of pride in pupils about their cultural heritage.

Encouraging the active use of their first language had a positive effects on students' self-esteem and their relationships, and it helped students become proficient in other languages and learning in general, she said.

For some students English may be a third language, and the project gave children confidence in their abilities as well as bringing the community together, she said.

Principal David Jopson said it was a chance to celebrate the school's diversity and students' special characteristics.

This year's collection will feature stories in languages including Tongan, Polish, Korean, Hebrew, Afrikaans, Chinese, Arabic, Afrikaans, Thai, Fijian, Hindi, Malayalam and Tamil.

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- Manawatu Standard

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