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International Languages Week

This events page contains information relevant to 2017. It will be updated for 2018 as soon as new themes, events, and resources are announced.


Ko tōu reo, ko tōku reo,
te tuakiri tangata.
Tīhei uriuri, tīhei nakonako.

Your voice and my voice are expressions of identity.
May our descendants live on and our hopes be fulfilled.

International Languages Week takes place this year between Monday 14 August and Friday 18 August. This special week provides an opportunity to showcase and promote languages and cultures in your school and communities. 

Young New Zealanders today have exposure to a huge number of international languages – more than 160 languages are spoken in our country. Learning an international language encompasses much more than language proficiency. Knowing an international language means knowing about the culture that is the foundation of that language.

Benefits of language learning

Parent voices

“For me, my husband’s language is so tied up in his culture. I want my kids to understand their dad’s culture."

“Kids who know a second language will go far in our increasingly global economy.”

Student voices

"I think that it is very important for everyone to understand another culture. While you are learning another language you get more of this understanding of other people. Learning another language gives you a flexible mind."

"If you learn more languages, you can get more job opportunities. If the employer sees on your CV that you are more multicultural and can speak more languages, they can send you overseas for trading and stuff like that."

International Languages Week and the New Zealand Curriculum

International Languages Week supports the curriculum principles of cultural diversity and inclusion, and provides an opportunity for students to:

  • demonstrate the vision of students' connection to a global community
  • explore the values of diversity, community, and respect
  • achieve learning outcomes described in the learning languages area
  • make use of key competencies, especially using language, symbols, and texts and relating to others.

International Languages Week provides a useful context for students to develop international capabilities. International capabilities are the knowledge, skills, attitudes, dispositions, and values that make up the key competencies that enable people to live, work, and learn across national and cultural boundaries.

What can your school do to celebrate International Languages Week?

  • Use the following question as a discussion starter with your class – "does the world look different in other languages?" 
  • Connect with community groups and families to find out what languages are spoken in your school community.
  • Invite family members with a second language into the school as guest speakers, to read first language books, or practice conversations with students.
  • Learn more than greetings – can you do a weather forecast in another language? Run an assembly or a PE lesson? Or cook something using a recipe entirely in another language?
  • Make a video like this one to promote International Languages Week.
  • Develop a resource written in an international language to welcome new migrants and inform them about your local area.
  • Connect with another class in a country that speaks an international language – The Mixxer is a free educational site designed to connect language learners around the world.
  • Consider ways in which you could build learning languages into the rest of your school year.

Resources for International Languages Week

International Languages Week
This site aims to help teachers plan for International Languages Week. Check out the links, resources and ideas to help you make International Languages Week a great event at your school.

International Languages Week wiki
Find a number of resources created by teachers which you can use for activities over International Languages week.

Language learning using the context of sport (PDF 1.4MB)
To celebrate International Languages Week 2014, the National Language Advisors from China, France, Germany, Japan, and Spain have selected an unusual or popular sport from each of their countries to introduce a possible resource for the classroom. This resource is a downloadable PDF.

Resources for learning languages

Learning languages in the New Zealand Curriculum
This section of The New Zealand Curriculum explains the learning languages learning area. It highlights the importance of language learning, describes the learning area structure, and lists achievement objectives.

Learning languages TKI community
This TKI community provides support for language teaching in New Zealand. The resource page lists key teaching and learning resources, assessment guidelines, professional support, and official Ministry of Education resources relating to specific languages.

Learning languages curriculum guides
This site houses the draft teaching and learning guidelines for learning languages in The New Zealand Curriculum. These guidelines are designed to support teachers to develop programmes of learning for specific languages for students from curriculum levels 1 – 4. They include information on how the key competencies relate to language learning.

Senior secondary curriculum guides – Learning languages
These senior secondary teaching and learning guides for learning languages help teachers create quality teaching and learning programmes. They support teachers in their planning for the alignment of standards to The New Zealand Curriculum.

Pasifika languages
This section of the Pasikifa Education Community provides a range of information, resources, and guidelines to assist you in Pasifika language learning.

Examples of language learning

Partnership makes for key competencies and learning languages success
This story describes how students from Matamata College improved their own knowledge of French by teaching local intermediate students. The story includes links to a project wiki, videos, and student voice.

A leap into life
This Education Gazette story describes how students from Darfield High strengthened ties with the French through language and gained an authentic learning opportunity in the bargain.

Chinese language case studies
These case studies focus on New Zealand schools that run Chinese language programmes, and people involved in Chinese language learning in New Zealand. They provide advice and tips about language learning for principals, teachers, and students.

Updated on: 31 Jul 2017