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Mana reo: The Learning Worlds of Endangered Language Learners - te reo Māori
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Endangered languages create learning and social contexts that are different from learning dominant majority languages. As a field with its roots in the Anglo-American tradition there is huge scope for SLA to be more inclusive of language and social contexts where linguistic and cultural pluralism is a given, not a deviation. This thesis contributes to a wider understanding in the combination of theoretical and contextual diversity and linguistic heritage in endangered language acquisition (ELA). To explore this idea in context this study focuses on second language (L2) learners and new speakers of Māori to provide a portrait of an under-acknowledged group and understand their role in the language’s future at a critical point in the vitality of te reo Māori. This poses question around the role of L2 learners in endangered language revitalisation. How do L2 learners locate themselves in the context of language revitalisation? What are L2 learners’ perceptions of the community and the individual in the revitalisation of te reo Māori? What role does the Māori language have Māori life and has this changed over the last 40 years of the Māori language movement? What terminology do L2 learners describe themselves? What factors of L2 learning have helped language development the most? And finally, what have been some of the struggles of L2 learning of Māori? As a study of Māori language speakers it is grounded methodologically in a framework that views and shapes all participants in Māori worlds, including the Pākehā researcher. In negotiating this space and drawing on the wisdom and experience of other Pākehā researchers, the thesis hopes to be part of an existing intellectual narrative around theoretical and practical aspects of Pākehā identity in and engagement with Māori worlds. This study draws on four decades of experience in Māori language revitalisation through its participants, who reveal Māori language learning as a site of multi-level hegemonic resistance, mediated access to the language and disruption to traditional roles. The study highlights the possible repercussions in restricting Māori language learning to ‘mainstream’ tertiary institutions as it becomes increasingly vulnerable to prevailing neoliberal policies and hegemonic practices. However, the most important and revelatory feature of the participants’ stories and the literature is that we can recast the earliest theoretical and philosophical endeavours of Māori language revitalisation in Kōhanga Reo and Te Ātaarangi as pivotal to its success. And equally, to celebrate Māori language communities’ extraordinary efforts since the 1970s to contribute towards a more sophisticated understanding of the social conditions of eL2 (L2 learners of endangered languages) as they take their ancestral languages into the 21st century.