Instant te reo Maori - an experiment you've never seen before video

JOSEPH JOHNSON/STUFF.CO.NZ

Is it possible to become completely fluent in te reo Maori in just one month? The experts think it's nuts, but Stuff reporter Julian Lee is giving it a go.

Is it possible to have almost no knowledge of Maori, and completely master it within a month?

Languages are notoriously difficult to learn and often involve years of repetition and practice.

But in recent years the United States government, among others, have tried to work out how many hours it would take a native English speaker to completely master another language.

Stuff reporter Julian Lee with two University of Canterbury linguists Jeanette King, left, and Una Cunningham, who are ...
JOSEPH JOHNSON/FAIRFAX NZ

Stuff reporter Julian Lee with two University of Canterbury linguists Jeanette King, left, and Una Cunningham, who are going to help him try master te reo Maori in a month.

The conclusion was that Romance languages such as French and Spanish are the easiest and take something like 400 hours to learn.

Japanese, Chinese and Arabic, on the other hand, are the hardest – Japanese can take 2200 hours to master for your average native English speaker.

But it seems no-one has calculated how long it takes to completely master Maori. 

Let's say, for the sake of this experiment, that Maori is as easy for an English speaker as French is. If you spent just one month cramming as much te reo into your brain as possible, could you become fluent?

Stuff reporter Julian Lee is on a mission to find out. Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu chief operating officer and former Maori TV broadcaster Julian Wilcox and master University of Canterbury linguists Jeanette King and Una Cunningham will help him along the way.

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