Writing holds diversity key

00:00, May 30 2013
ManStan landscape
NATIVE INSTINCT: Kriti Saija, 12, of Palmerston North Intermediate Normal School, works on her Gujarati (Indian) essay.

Maintaining the mother tongue is the key message being given to Palmerston North Intermediate Normal School pupils learning English as a second language.

Yesterday about 50 ESOL (English for speakers of other languages) pupils, encompassing 37 different nationalities, learned the value of story writing in their native written language through the First Voice Programme.

Now in its 14th year, First Voice is run in partnership with the Palmerston North City Library with assistance from the Migrant Resource Centre, which provides volunteer mentors.

Kalesh Desai, 10, wanted to learn written Gujarati because he was the only one of his friends who could not write in an Indian language.

Now he can write about his first day at school in his native language with the aid of a translation page.

"It's pretty fair because now I can write in my diary about my life . . . it's like a secret language," he said.

"But it's hard because I already know one language but the translation page helps me." Kalesh was born in New Zealand and only when his parents decided to speak Gujarati fulltime around the house did he pick up the verbal skills.

Palmerston North Intermediate Normal School ESOL teacher Barb Drake said that at the start of the year all the pupils were able to speak their native tongue - but only half could write. "The aim is to maintain the mother tongue, their first language, and to keep them writing and keep them proud of their diversity in the school."

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