Second Language Acquisition for English-Medium Secondary Te Reo Māori Teachers - Evaluation of the PD Pilot Programme

Publication Details

The report is an evaluation of a professional development programme designed to enable English-medium secondary school teachers of te reo Maori to deepen their understanding of current second language teaching methodology and to use a range of second language teaching strategies and resources to improve student learning outcomes.

Author(s): Katrina Fryer, Emanuel Kalafatelis & Kathleen Murrow

Date Published: 2007

Executive Summary

In 2006, the Ministry of Education contracted a provider (Haemata Ltd) to design and pilot a professional development (PD) programme that would enable English-medium secondary teachers of Māori language to: 

  • Deepen their understanding of current second language teaching methodology;
  • Become familiar with the Draft Te Reo Māori in the New Zealand Curriculum;
  • Plan and teach lessons/units, and assess learning at each level of the curriculum;
  • Observe, and use, a range of second-language teaching strategies and resources that will improve student learning outcomes; and
  • Become aware of, and overtly teach/facilitate, learner strategies.

Research New Zealand was contracted by the Ministry to evaluate this pilot PD programme.

The objectives of the evaluation encompassed: describing how the PD pilot programme was implemented; determining what outcomes or impacts were achieved; identifying what factors contributed to or detracted from the effectiveness of the PD programme; and identifying the key learnings that may be taken forward to optimise the initiative.


The evaluation of the pilot Te Reo Māori in the English-Medium PD Programme for Secondary School Teachers comprised a number of related research activities. Specifically, the evaluation involved: a pre-PD survey of all enrolled participants; a post-PD survey of all those who completed the PD programme; site visits to the schools of four selected teachers, involving interviews with the selected teachers and with other key members of staff; interviews with the PD providers; and analysis of secondary information.

In addition to these specific research activities, members of the Evaluation Team visited two of the three PD hui sessions, to introduce themselves to the teachers and explain the purpose of the evaluation.

Summary of results


Promotion and recruitment

The PD provider used a range of different methods to promote the PD programme and encourage Māori language teachers to enroll. These methods included; placing notices in the Education Gazette, faxing and phoning secondary schools, meeting with teachers and Principals, emailing Principals and PD Co-ordinators as well as various telephone calls and email discussions with interested teachers. 

Participating teachers and their schools

The participating teachers represented a wide range of ages and experience in teaching te reo Māori. The majority were of Māori descent, although there was a fairly even gender split amongst them. They also represented the full range of school deciles and sizes and had varying proportions of Māori students on their school roll. It was interesting to note, however, that at least half of the teachers who attended had not been on a PD course relating to second-language acquisition prior to the pilot.

Motivations for participating

Although some teachers had been motivated to attend through the encouragement of other people (i.e. their Principal or other key member of staff), most were primarily drawn to the PD programme through their own personal interest in te reo Māori and the opportunity to develop their career and teaching skills.

Feedback and evaluation of the programme

Feedback on the programme was very positive, particularly in relation to the course provider. The only issue that arose at this point, was the need for ongoing support and resource sharing between participants and the provider, or at least between the participants themselves.

Specific aspects of the course that were identified as being the most helpful for teachers, were the practical elements of the programme, the development of resources, the use of the communicative learning approach and the observation visits. Teachers also appreciated the opportunity to discuss ideas and issues with other teachers of the Māori language.

Reflecting their positive assessment of each component of the course, all of the teachers were satisfied with the programme overall and would have no reservations about recommending the PD to other teachers of te reo Māori.

Suggestions for improvements

Most of the suggested improvements for the programme centred around the above-mentioned issue – that is, creating further opportunities for support and networking for teachers once the course is over.  


Confidence in teaching te reo Māori

While most teachers were relatively confident about their teaching abilities before the PD programme commenced, there were marked improvements in all areas by the time the course was over. The most notable increases in confidence were noted in relation to Teaching vocabulary effectively, Explaining grammatical structures, Providing students with ways/strategies to ease the learning burden and Giving feedback to students on progress

Attitudes towards the teaching and learning of te reo Māori me ōna tikanga

Before the PD programme started, participating teachers were very supportive of the learning of te reo Māori in New Zealand schools. While these views did become even more positive by the end of the programme, the only notable increase was recorded in relation to the importance of all teachers in New Zealand to learn te reo Māori.

Use of te reo Māori

While significant increases in the use of te reo Māori did not occur on a school-wide basis, this was not necessarily an expected outcome of the programme. There was, however, a significant shift for many of the participating teachers with regard to the use of te reo Māori within their own classrooms. Rather than rely so heavily on written texts, teachers were encouraging their students to kōrero in Māori with them so they could learn the language first-hand. 

Knowledge and use of teaching and learning strategies 

Although teachers already had a high awareness of the learning strategies covered in the programme before they started, the use of these strategies increased markedly following the end of the course. The most notable increases were recorded in the use of the following strategies for teaching vocabulary and grammer; Teaching grammatical structure in context, Teaching vocabulary in topic-related sets and Teaching similar things together.

The PD programme also resulted in an increased use of the following strategies for second-language learning; Guiding students to think about how best they learn, and to use that to their advantage and Teaching students to create transliterations.

Use of the Draft Te Reo Māori in the New Zealand Curriculum

Very few of the participating teachers were familiar with the Draft Te Reo Māori in the New Zealand Curriculum at the beginning of the PD programme. In fact, mid-way through the programme it was discovered that many of the teachers had still not read the document. However, by the end of the PD programme, familiarity and use of the Draft Te Reo Māori in the New Zealand Curriculum had increased significantly, with most claiming to have used it In planning lessons and units, or as A resource for vocabulary and grammar.


Following completion of the PD programme, teachers’ use of some of the types of assessments covered in the course increased considerably. The most notable increases were recorded in relation to Student’s self-assessments, and Individual assessments by the teacher.  

Awareness and use of support

Participating teachers had varying levels of awareness of the types of support that are available to them. By the end of the course, there was some increase in awareness, particularly with regard to Pouwhakataki and Resource Teachers of Māori.

The extent to which teachers had approached, or used particular sources of support had also increased by the end of the course, particularly with regard to Secondary School Māori Liaison Officers/Iwi Liaison Officers, Māori Resource Teachers of Learning and Behaviour, and Local rūnanga-a-iwi.

Benefits for the students at the school

Most of the teachers visited through the site visits talked about the positive impact the PD programme had on their students. More specifically, they felt their students had responded well to the increased level of interaction and engagement in the classroom, the personal relevance of the topics that had been introduced into their lessons and the clear articulation of the desired outcomes or goals that were being set.  

Factors contributing to and detracting from the programme’s effectiveness 

The key factors that may inhibit teachers from putting into practice what they had learnt on the programme are not necessarily factors which relate to the programme’s delivery as they relate more to the attitude and motivation of the teachers themselves, and the time they have (or make) available for themselves to plan and prepare units and resources.

There were, however, a number of programme-related factors that contributed to the programme’s success. These include: The communicative method and second-language learning strategies, the practical application and preparation of a unit using the curriculum, the observational visits, the opportunity to establish networks amongst participants and last, but by no means least, – the quality of the programme provider.


Overall, the Te Reo Māori Professional Development Pilot Programme for Secondary School Teachers has been a success, resulting in many positive outcomes for the participating teachers and their students.

A small number of issues were raised through the evaluation that should be considered if the programme is to be rolled out on a wider basis. These include: the length of the programme, providing ongoing refreshers or future networking opportunities for participants, ensuring that all participants start with a reasonable knowledge of the Draft Te Reo Māori in the New Zealand Curriculum, increasing the number of observation visits (or at least ensuring that each teacher agrees to take part in two such visits), and having at least one (but not necessarily all) of the hui on a marae.

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