Asians Under-5s: Maintaining cultural knowledge and language skills


The report Starting Strong: Nurturing the potential of Asian under-fives, published in 2017, looks at the rapidly increasing Asian under-five population, their home environment, as well as the response of Early Childhood Education (ECE) centres to this changing demographic.

“It is important to recognise the benefits of having these children with diverse languages and cultures growing up in New Zealand given Asia’s growing relevance,” says Simon Draper, executive director of Asia New Zealand Foundation.

Almost one in five children under five in New Zealand are now of Asian ethnicity. Between 2001 and 2013, this demographic almost doubled from 18,378 to 35,898.

While families of Asian ethnicity in New Zealand place great importance on their heritage culture and language, researchers say parents notice that as soon as children start school, English becomes the main language at home and their heritage language is used less.

“We hear from employers that New Zealand’s present and future workforce needs to be confident and competent in engaging with Asia and Asian peoples”, says Mr Draper.

“This report tells us children are entering our school system with a head start — bringing cultural knowledge and language skills that will be a real advantage when they enter the workforce 15-20 years from now,” says Mr Draper.

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Courtesy Asia New Zealand Foundation

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