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Anna Filippochkina

In talking with Anna Filippochkina about the classes that the Russian Cultural Centre is providing, we also learned what is being done to improve the training available for community language teachers in Christchurch.

In Christchurch there are community language classes in many languages, including Russian, Arabic, Polish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Tongan, Indian, Sinhalese, Italian, French…and many others.

ESOL teachers, says Anna, have well established training programmes and qualifications. The big gap in this country is for community language teachers: “Many community language teachers have qualified as teachers in their own country, but some have no qualifications, and many have no knowledge of New Zealand teaching practice.”

So in June 2007, the Russian Cultural Centre together with Christchurch City Council organised the first seminar on intergenerational learning. The seminar was attended by over fifty people, including all of the principals of the local community language schools along with representatives from both the Ministry of Education and the Office of Ethic Affairs. 

Then in 2016 the Christchurch branch of the Community Languages Association of New Zealand (CLANZ) and the Russian Cultural Centre organised a seminar on the acquisition and maintenance of heritage and community languages in multilingual Christchurch - from strategy to action. Discussion focused on the support that the community language schools needed in order to deliver their services. As a result Christchurch CLANZ offered two professional development workshops for these tutors. One was on understanding and planning with flexible multilingual methods; and the second on facilitating creative teaching.

The seminar and workshops were facilitated by Anna Filippochkina (RCCT and CLANZ representative) and Angela Bland (CANTESOL and TESOLNZ representative).

“There is a big need,” says Anna, “for a national language policy in New Zealand. We need to follow the experience of Australia. They have sixty hour programmes for community language teachers. They are free and on finishing teachers get a certificate. Auckland already has developed the Language Strategy - the Auckland Languages Strategy, Ngā Reo o Tāmaki Makaurau – which aims to develop a shared agenda for multilingualism and to enable alignment of policy and practice to support, promote and foster all the city’s diverse languages and cultures. (see cometauckland.org.nz/wawcs0160396/Languages- Strategy.html). But we need a national approach. We need to promote bilingualism. A growing number of language educators consider New Zealand must re-examine its language policies.

We live in the 21st century, in a multicultural society and in a world where we have a UNESCO International Mother Language Day.”