Wednesday, August 10, 2016


Thomas Swinburn de Dilworth School à Auckland

Thomas as eu l'opportunité de donner un discours aux Youth MPs au parlement. Thomas est lui-même un Youth MP aussi qu'un jeune ambassadeur. Il va bientôt partir en France nous représenter. Nous te souhaitons un très beau voyage Thomas, nous sommes tous très fiers de toi.  


Voici le discours à partager avec vos élèves et vos communautés:  


Thank-you Mr Speaker for giving me this opportunity to speak about a subject which is close to my heart.

My Auckland School Dilworth has but four students studying a foreign language in Year 13. Admittedly, we are a small school and Maori and French are the only options, but having talked to students across Auckland in public and private schools alike, I know our situation is not unique. Having personally gained a great deal from the study of languages, I can attest to the individual benefits, and I know just how crucial they are for our country. Despite this, the number of students opting to study languages is dwindling across the country. This is a problem we must address as a nation.

Our world is more connected than ever before. New Zealand is no longer that insular country in the middle of nowhere but rather a bustling hub sought after by immigrants and tourists of diverse backgrounds. Trade is no longer centred around our anglophone partners but rather a range of countries throughout Asia and the world. For New Zealand to thrive in this exciting time, we need to learn languages. Languages build friendship and they build understanding. It shows a willingness to engage and an interest in and respect for other cultures. These skills and values are crucial in building tolerance for the hundreds of cultures that call this country home while ensuring New Zealand is competitive and impactful on the world stage. Yet, despite these undeniable benefits for the individual and our country, in 2015 only 1 in 10 students opted to study a language at secondary school. Something needs to be done. 

I would like to see the government take an active role in the promotion of language learning in secondary schools, although the real change must be made by us young people. We need to change our perception of the value of language learning. Languages shouldn’t be seen as that subject that’s just too hard or not useful in the real world. Like anything, with a bit of work and determination, anyone can succeed.

I learnt French at school, and I will be the first to admit that French doesn’t look like it’s going to be the lingua franca anytime soon, although that is not to say that it was not worthwhile, quite the opposite! Nonetheless, given the current world climate, I would have jumped at the chance to learn Mandarin or Spanish, but this simply wasn’t possible in my case. We need to increase the accessibility of languages in our schools. And the ultimate goal doesn’t necessarily have to be to produce perfectly bilingual speakers, far from it. What we do need to strive for is a generation of young kiwis who can converse in another language for business or pleasure, and who make the effort to show that we are not reliant on English alone. 

To thrive as a country, we must realise that we are not only citizens of New Zealand but citizens of the world. In my opinion, this begins with developing and fostering a culture of language learning among young people. Yes, language learning is a commitment, yes it is a challenge, but ultimately it is an incredibly rewarding experience that we need to promote both for our own benefits as individuals but also for the benefits that it brings to our communities and our country.

Finally, I would like to thank my MP Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga, his support staff Darrell, Pua and Gail, my electorate of Maungakiekie and all the people who made this incredible journey possible. 

Merci beaucoup. 

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