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English Online. Every child literate - a shared responsibility.
Ministry of Education.

Supporting Pasifika learners

Pasifika students

Teaching English in a way that is responsive to the diversity in our classrooms has the most profound effect on our learners. Strong school–whānau relationships, culturally responsive classrooms, and the deliberate use of effective teaching strategies can help Pasifika learners achieve success.

The Pasifika effective teacher pedagogical practices

  • The use of ‘sophisticated skills’ in teacher dialogue with students that encourages them to take responsibility for their learning and to think at a deeper level
  • Making the learning process transparent and understandable for students -scaffolding
  • Spending time on vocabulary and language including language structure
  • Requiring students to construct their own meaning from new information and ideas. 
  • Are strong in teaching core basics and they bring an interactive dimension to their teaching
  • Extend their classrooms into and draw from local communities

from  Effecting change for Pasifika students (Word 39KB) 

There are a range of resources and readings to help us begin to understand and use appropriate pedagogies that will enhance learning for Pasifika learners, and all learners, when engaging with the English Learning area in The New Zealand Curriculum.

Questions to think about in your school context

  • What would be a priority focus for your school in lifting outcomes in English for Pasifika learners?
  • How can Pasifika perspectives and languages be used in the English classroom?
  • What strategies does your department, team or syndicate use to build culturally responsive contexts for Pasifika students within your teaching and learning programmes?


Building relationships with Pasifika students and fanau
Malae Aloali’i has taught English at Aorere College for over 10 years and establishes caring relationships with her students and fanau, and this impacts positively on student achievement. In this interview with Togi Lemanu, Malae shares her approaches to academic mentoring.

Salem and the Dawn Raids
This snapshot from the English senior secondary curriculum guide describes how a teacher used a local context and community resources to help students get into the text and the themes of a play set in seventeenth century America.

Pasifika poetry and English classics
This snapshot, from the English senior secondary curriculum guide, describes how a teacher designed a year 13 course specifically for her class of Pasifika students and how, by making thematic connections across Pasifika poetry,Othello, and The Crucible, their understanding and appreciation of the literature of both cultures was enriched.


What factors promote and support Pasifika students in reading and writing?
This investigation attempts to identify what literacy practices are perceived as contributing to success by Year 6–8 Pasifika students who are achieving at their age levels or above in reading and writing in English. It explores the Pasifika community's perceptions of the relationship between home–school partnerships and success as a literacy learner.

LEAP (Language Enhancing the Achievement of Pasifika)
LEAP is a web-based guideline for teachers that supports the learning of bilingual Pasifika students in mainstream (English-medium) classrooms in New Zealand schools.

Pasifika strategy NZQA
The Pasifika Strategy outlines NZQA’s strategic framework to support the aspiration that Pasifika learners become highly skilled and highly qualified, and thereby contribute to their own, and to New Zealand’s, economic and social prosperity.

Effective literacy strategies Pasifika focus (PDF 192KB) 
Summary of findings from the 2006 professional development project.

Tapasā: Cultural Competencies Framework for Teachers of Pacific Learners
Tapasā is designed to support teachers to become more culturally aware, confident and competent when engaging with Pacific learners and their parents, families and communities.

Light the fire – The power of community collaboration

light the fire image.

Light the Fire is an Auckland based group of teachers and leaders who are passionate about Pasifika ākonga and giving Pasifika students voice and mana within their school.

Each term they meet for a celebration of learning and talanoa about 'Pasifika enjoying success as Pasifika'. Guest speakers and Pasifika students share their educational journeys.

"You can make a difference – one by one – but together we can make a TIDAL wave of difference!"

Related video

At the latest Light the Fire hui, guest speaker David Riley shared useful tips on how to engage Pasifika boys in literacy. He also discussed ways that we can be more culturally responsive in our teaching.


Updated on: 05 Oct 2015