This year I initiated a campaign for literacy credits which is currently being managed by a group of Spanish language teachers. We have worked to research this issue to compare it with overseas trends, to set up meetings and liaise with universities, in particular Canterbury and Auckland, contacted ILEP and NZALT and met with their leaders. Some of the teachers involved are: Carlos Junca; Catherine Attwood; Helen Magasiva; Julia Crawley; Laytee George; Maria Blanco Blanco; Marjorie Juhel; Rosa Guevara; Elena Prado
Currently the issue is being taken forward by NZALT and Catherine Attwood has been asked to join NZALT and become part of working group to bring this issue to the attention of the MOE during teh NZQA review of languages curriculum early next year.
I have asked to take a less committed view due to personal health issues. My opening email is below with some of the follow up emails.
Sent: Friday, 8 May 2015 5:21 PM
Subject: [ELENZA] no literacy credits for studying language
I would like to bring up the subject of the lack of literacy credits for senior language NCEA standards in NZ with the Ministry and am keen to know other language teacher’s thoughts on this subject.
Literacy credits are currently offered in subjects such as Drama, Economics, Health & PE, Mathematics, Music, Horticulture, and Te Reo yet not to students who read and write in another language. In addition, it seems patently unreasonable and hypocritical to not offer literacy credits for learning a second language, when students studying Te Reo Maori (as a second language) are being awarded them for similar assessments.
The argument may have been that native speakers could gain literacy credits through language standards, providing a false picture of their English abilities. This is an unsubstantiated argument, in particular with regard to the number of literacy credits students are required to provide for course entry, as it would be impossible to get all or even most of these through one or two NCEA language assessments. In addition, the number of students studying their own language for NCEA credits is negligible, compared to the number of English speaking senior students studying a second language who are being denied literacy credits for becoming more literate through studying language.
With second language student numbers at an all-time low in new Zealand, it is time the MOE started supporting its own curriculum, where it has placed learning languages as a core strand. One positive thing we could do is provide literacy credits for students who earn them by studying literature, writing, reading and gaining insights into the functioning of their own language during their second language study.
I look forward to hearing other’s thoughts on the matter.
Acting HOD International Languages
No hay un paso gigante que lo hace. Es una gran cantidad de pequeños pasos.
mailto:ELENZA@LISTSERV.REDIRIS.ES] On Behalf Of Elena Prado
Sent: Saturday, 9 May 2015 2:43 p.m.
Subject: Re: [ELENZA] no literacy credits for studying language
I am glad Sorrel that you have brought up the topic to our attention.
Vocational Pathways is already having a negative impact in students choosing languages as it offers very little credits to target language learners.
In relation to literacy credits something has to be done soon, otherwise students will start seeing no value in target languages learning.
I understand that teaching and learning languages has now a strong focus in communicative purpose however, there is a need to re-evaluate the role of language translation as it has a strong relationship with literacy and it is an important source of employment.
I know of the existence of Google translate but we all know by now that a serious translation job will always require a person behind it who has earned some literacy credits… hopefully.
Translating abstract thinking, literature, poetry, etc., will always require a high level of literacy.
Having a new NCEA standard in where students have to face a translation task of 3 different types of texts, topics level related and from target language to English, could be the way to go.
Maybe without use of resources, it could be one way to acknowledge how target language learning enriches and extend literacy in students and earn them credits.
Or it could be a research project, text resources in target language and then a translation to English, without the use of resources such as dictionaries or else.
I have been chatting to ESOL and English HODs and have discovered some misconceptions about literacy credits. Firstly, literacy is taken (without stating it anywhere) to mean literacy in English. It appears to have come about as a university initiative. Secondly, apparently there are no Level 2 literacy credits as such. Students must gain 10 literacy credits at level 1 to gain level 1 NCEA. Students must gain a further 10 literacy credits at either Level 2 or 3 for university entrance.
This has a bearing on our situation, as we will need to present a strong case for credits at all three levels of language study.
Another argument could be based on the type of answers the new ‘NCEA marking schedule’ for languages is asking from students. Before (I am talking about 3 years ago) it used to be pretty much a translation of the text (listening/reading) to get Excellence whereas now, it is more an interpretation and well explained perspectives and inferences to sit safely in the E category. Anyone who sees the examples of E/M answers in the NCEA webpage will see that this requires a better level of literacy.
Just a thought.
Regarding what is happening in other English speaking countries, it is rather hard to compare the NZ system for University entries to other systems. In England students are required to complete GCSE before going to Uni and some states in Australia have a system based on percentages of all students’ results . So far I haven’t heard of literacy/numeracy credits for University entry.
Deb Ward suggests the following:
The Review and Maintenance Programme (RAMP) will be one of our best ways to have feedback.
This year it is underway for Mathematics and Statistics and Science learning areas. Languages is
on the timeline for the start of 2016. Further information can be found
How can we as teachers have a say in this process? Feeding back through NZALT and your own
language associations is the most important step to take as they then talk directly to MOE.
There is a lot of support for your points from teachers and feeding this voice back is very
important so thank you for raising this in such a clear and concise manner.
I don’t remember having word of this conference in Wellington, and the first site I tried on looking for information, was The Office of Ethnic Affairs, which I have also never heard of, and it denied me access. This conference was apparently a government initiative from this Office aimed at developing policy around languages and language learning, see:
It may be this Office which is also driving the intercultural standards development initiative, which was being researched last year (a standard or standards based on intercultural competency) https://www.educationcounts.govt.nz/publications/international/144533