A number of pioneering research-based studies in semantically-focused descriptions of the English language have made a profound impact on its teaching that is more useful and meaningful for communicative purposes. This has seen the production of pedagogic grammars and usage reference books on English since the 1980s onwards. However, this has not been the case with the Māori language. Thus, there is a need for a similar book in this area, which is more critical today than ever before to meet the increasing demands in te reo Māori pedgogy and learning in our changing and diverse multi-cultural society. This work will necessarily include rethinking the ways in which te reo can be described based on semantically-oriented theorising that will underpin the design principles of this resource.
The crux of this project aims to produce an A-Wh pedagogic grammar and usage of the Māori language that would act as a reference book to its more formal structures and grammar that attempts to offer less technical descriptions and explanations as far as possible for a non-specialist audience and for pedagogical purposes. It aims to focus on how te reo Māori can be best expressed in its proper forms and authentic usage as governed by accepted grammar rules and descriptions and the lore of tikanga Māori. Semantic-based theory will be the logical starting point and play the primary role for describing te reo in this resource with linguistic-based theory taking on a very secondary and facilitating role.
The implications for teachers of te reo may include, for example, the design of best models for creating course syllabuses and lesson content, and producing teaching and learning materials that may have more useful and meaningful pedagogical and practical outcomes for Māori language teachers and users in the seond language classroom. Here, I refer to the term ‘users’ in a very generic way in which a learner not only has skills in speaking te reo, but also has skills in writing, listening, and reading respectively. This term accounts for the inclusivity of the other three skills, as well.
I advocate that successful teaching and learning of te reo begins with rethinking the types of theories we use to describe it and the types of approaches we use to teach it. This should be based on up-to-date approaches that are driven by current research on L2 language studies. Good language description must precede good language teaching.
As a very ambitious project, this will necessarily include a collegial effort, for example, of applied linguists, general linguists, Māori language teachers across different educational levels, and/ or other interested parties. Accessiblity to funding and large Māori-based corpora will be pertinent to the succcess of this work.