Round-up for February 2013

So what’s the outcome for this topic for February 2013?

Push it until it happens.

I *want* this to happen. I want NZ to lead the way. Show the world that it is possible.

It’s up to me to put my money where my mouth is. I’ve committed to improve my own Te Reo Māori skills this year. Next up is extending my skills in te reo Māori, gaining a greater of understanding of tikanga and increasing my waiata repertoire.

And somewhere along the line, I will refresh my NZSL skills.

I need to keep planting the seed to everyone I know in the GLAM industry to incorporate bilingualism into our training curriculum.

So my goals are to –

  • Keep the discussion going.
  • Find out who to lobby, who to influence and who will make this a reality.
  • Find others to be part of this.
  • Start the groundswell.
  • Keep momentum going.

Make it happen.

So what do other countries do?

There’s plenty of other countries that have two or more official languages. Two that immediately spring to mind are Canada & Wales.

So do they encourage librarians to be bilingual? Do they make it compulsory for librarians- in-training to be bilingual? Or is it commonplace to just “encourage” bilingualism?

Why can’t we just put a stick in the sand here in New Zealand and say, right, in five years time, anyone who wants to work as a [teacher, librarian, social worker] or in the [medical, government, tourism] industry must be bilingual? Get started now. Five years notice. Go.

Perhaps I’m too idealistic about this.

Yes I know that learning another language is hard.

Yes I know that not everyone wants to learn English, Te Reo or NZSL.

Yes I know that we are all too [busy/tired/overworked].

Well that’s too bad. If we are doing [insert various job titles] for future generations, then it isn’t really about us is it?

Our future customers & communities & employers & employees deserve better.

Commit to it. Learn it. Use it. Show your community that you give a damn. Show them it can be done.

Be that change you want to see in the world. It might sometimes feel like an overused cliché, but until we actually show others how and why it can be done, then how can we expect it to be any different?

So let’s just draw a line in the sand – do you want to work in the GLAM sector in New Zealand? Then get yourself at least one official language fluently, another one beyond the absolute basics, and if you added in another language (official or not), then that is a total bonus.

So my mission is to find out this month whether any other countries make it compulsory. And then turn the spotlight on whether we can make it happen here in New Zealand.

Making a commitment to my own Te Reo skills

Right I’ve done it.

I’ve signed up for a course in basic Te Reo through Te Wānanga o Raukawa  (TWoR) – Poupou Huia Te Reo.

13 weeks. Starting 11 February 2013.

I have completed the online enrolment, and have posted back my student declaration. Just waiting now for confirmation from TWoR.

So no backing out now.

I can do this.

Bilingual Librarians

New Zealand has three official languages:

  • Te Reo Māori
  • New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL)
  • English

And how many librarians can actually hold a basic conversation in more than one of these official languages?

For me, English is my first language. I have been more fluent in NZSL than I am now – I worked for the Deaf Association for 12 months almost a decade ago. However, I am embarrassed that my Te Reo is not very good. And it is my responsibility to fix that.

And how many of our children are learning at least two, if not three, of these official languages?

Te Whāriki is the curriculum framework for the ECE sector. This outlines what the Early Childhood Education sector will focus on for our next generations. These are our future library customers – in every sector. This is what they will learn, what they will expect. And so how are we going to respond to these language needs & expectations.

And how many of our current library customers actually speak more than one language at home (although not necessarily one of the three official languages)?

The 2006 NZ Census data showed 17.5% of the population spoke two or more languages. I wonder how much this % will change this year, and also how much more it will be in five years or ten years.

Why don’t we make it compulsory for *all* library, archivists, GLAM sector folks can hold a basic conversation in at least two of our official languages in New Zealand? After all, it’s becoming increasingly common in the education sector.

And we’d also encourage them to speak at least another one as well …

With the 2013 NZ Census coming up on 5th March 2013, we have a great opportunity to get hard facts about language use in NZ, and look at how it is changing, where it changing, and figuring out why it is changing.

As Librarians …

We want to be relevant. We want to be reflective of our customers. We want to make information accessible.

So let’s make ourselves relevant. Let’s reflect our customers. Let’s participate in the information creation & access of our customers.

Let’s also make a commitment to our community to learn at least two of NZ’s official languages. Bilingual Librarians indeed.