Am. Samoa Developing Dual Language Program In Schools

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Two committees tasked with developing, assessing program

By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, June 16, 2015) – The local Department of Education has established two committees to develop and assess the Dual Language Program in public schools, according to the DOE’s fiscal year 2016 second quarter performance report covering the period of Jan. 1-Mar. 31, 2015.

Dual Language — using both English and Samoan languages — as a teaching tool in classrooms was proposed during the Education Summit in October 2013. DOE officials told lawmakers that the plan is to use the Samoan language in the lower levels or beginning classes — Kindergarten to Grade 5.

DOE’s latest performance report revealed that there are two committees in the areas of Leadership and Teachers that are bringing the Dual Language program to reality.

Leadership Committee "will develop readers/materials in both languages", it says. "They are to translate and edit, both English and Samoan, with the assistant of the Samoan Language Consultant" Galumalemana Hunkin.

DOE stressed that this is an "ongoing and complex process that requires monitoring, revision and application."

The Teacher Committee, is tasked with working and developing the themes that align with the DOE standards. Further they will develop Lesson Plans that will utilize reading, poetry, storytelling and visual aids for grades ECE to Level 1.

According to DOE, all of the reading materials will be translated with the assistance of technology, such as e-books and smart boards — to garner the attention of children through visual aid and creativity. "All these plans must correlate with the standards of the program, and will be ongoing," the report says.

DOE says the Language Program is also preparing for workshops and training, with tests conducted in April this year, to identify and assess the students for the Dual Language Program.

These tests will determine the children’s existing knowledge of the Dual Language Program. It will also reveal the level of understanding of the students with words and knowledge of both languages.

Prior to implementation of tests, training was conducted to ensure the correct methods and processes were in place with teachers. Additionally, training for eight teachers — identified as ‘trainers’ — to promote Dual Language awareness was conducted by Galumalemana.

The DOE performance report also pointed out that projected training and workshops were held to continue the development, reviewing, aligning, editing and finalizing the programs objectives and goals.

"Training highlighted the benefits of bilingualism, strategies and methodologies as well as comparing the achievements and successes experienced in other Pacific nations," the DOE report says, and noted that the department is working on acquiring Samoan dictionaries so that all teachers have access to word usage in the Samoan language.

Earlier this year, Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga informed Interior Assistant Secretary for Insular Affairs that Dual Language education is in its preparatory stages and is important because Samoan is the indigenous language of Samoans; because learning languages is easier for children than it is for adults; and, the opportunity to expand one’s knowledge of cultures and languages is inherently valuable.

He says the challenge is to find teachers competent in both Samoan and English language instruction.

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