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Frequently asked questions

Q. How can I expect the students to understand the language in the DVD scenarios when I can hardly understand it myself?

A. Children and young people are highly skilled at extracting meaning from words and phrases they have never heard before. They do this every day as they expand their vocabularies and refine their skills in their first language. If you are a beginner in te reo Māori yourstki.org.nz, you may find the students are a step ahead of you sometimes in interpreting visual and context cues. This can be a valuable learning experience for both parties.

Q. I know a few phrases in Māori, and I know what they mean, but I can’t work out how to put sentences together. Where do I start?

A. Te reo Māori is structured very differently from English and other European languages. This can be frustrating, especially in the early stages, for those who want to analyse the grammar. Many learners find it helpful to build up a bank of words and phrases first. It’s a bit like doing a jigsaw puzzle – the picture gradually emerges when you join many small pieces together.

Q. I thought wai meant water, but in Unit 1, Waka says, “Ko wai tō ingoa?” It doesn’t make sense.

A. There are numerous homonyms in Māori, creating pitfalls for beginners. For example, the word wai means water but it also means who, and the word mā has at least five different meanings. It helps if learners are alerted to the existence of homonyms early on and develop a habit of regularly checking meaning against context.

Q. Some of the activities have tables with numbers on one axis and the letters A, E and H on the other. What do these letters stand for?

A. Instead of using the letters A, B, C etc, the letters of te arapū Māori – the Māori alphabet have been used. As there is no B, C, or D in Māori, the second and third letters are E and H. The Te Arapū Māori waiata is introduced in Unit 1 and is demonstrated on DVD. Listen carefully to the pronunciation of the letters on DVD and the audio CD; singing the waiata gives an opportunity to practise.

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