The majority of Māori speaking parents these days have learnt Māori as a second language and have grown up with English as their common language of communication. So for many of us, speaking Māori all the time can be a challenge.
If you want to give your child a great start and bring them up with Māori as their first language, then it has to start in the home: and it will take some conscious effort and planning.
Language planning simply means creating a plan, with set goals and activities to help you and your whānau to speak Māori. Having a plan helps you be clear about what you’re trying to achieve, and it’s a way of recognising when you have achieved the language milestones that are important to your whānau.
While you might not feel that you need a formal plan, it’s still important to think through your goals and how you are going to reach them. You might think that it’s as simple as ‘just speaking Māori’, but many who try that approach find that it's not long before speaking Māori happens less and less often, especially as your children become more competent in English.
First decide what the big goal is for your whānau – do you want everyone to speak Māori all the time, or to be able to speak Māori at certain times or in particular places? Discuss some options with your whānau and get everyone to agree on a goal and what you, as a whānau, are willing to do to achieve it.
Learning a language takes time, and you will want to learn different things as your children grow up, so you will probably find that your goals will change every year or even every few months. Keep revisiting the plan to make sure that it’s still relevant, and so you can see when you have achieved your goals.
When you’ve set your goals, decide what activities are going to help you get there. For example, if your goal is to make meals a 'kōrero Māori only' time, then your activities could be things like: learning the names for veges and other types of kai, practising useful sentences like ‘homai ngā kāroti’ (pass me the carrots), or talking about what you’ve done during the day. Whatever you decide to do, the activities should be appropriate and relevant for your whānau situation.
It may help to write up the ‘rules’ you want to follow and put them up somewhere obvious, like the fridge.