LITERACY FOR PASIFIKA STUDENTS : A
Literacy in English gives students access to the understanding, knowledge,
and skills they need to participate fully in the social, cultural, political, and
economic life of New Zealand and the wider world. To be successful
participants, they need to be effective oral, written, and visual communicators
who are able to think critically and in depth.
9am KWL Post- It Chart
9.30am Session 1: The research so far…
10.30: Morning Tea
11 am Session 2: Critical Literacy
1.30 pm: Session 3: Developing Activities for the Classroom
SESSION 1: WHERE ARE WE AT?
69% of Pasifika Students achieve level 2
42.9% of Eligible Pasifika Students achieve
32% of Pasifika students are bilingual (60%
24 % of Pasifika students are reading above
their level (Pisa 2001)
35% of Pasifika students have literacy difficulties
which are preventing them experiencing success
in schools. (PISA 2001)
Pasifika children have a diverse range of
experiences and backgrounds from fully bilingual
to monolingual in either English or a Pasifika
language. Many leave school without the
necessary qualifications and skills for success.
Know what the research tell us about the
literacy experiences of Pasifika students
Identify strategies which may improve Pasifika
Understand the potential benefits of critical
Identify activities which teach critical literacy
WHERE ARE WE AT?
Student Perceptions of Pasifika Achievement
Pasifika Students are also watching the news!
What Messages are we sending them about
WHAT DOES THE RESEARCH TELL US?
There is a lack of connection between home
Expectations at home can conflict with
expectations at school.
Successful Pasifika students are effective at
moving between ‘identities’ depending on their
The most common source of literacy
development outside school is church.
(Mila-Schaff, 2010; Dickie, 2010)
CHURCH BASED LITERACY
Church is a place of community and culture
Students are not expected to question or
Vocabulary learning is encouraged and is often
higher than comprehension and critical thinking.
Tautolo- reading out loud from the bible
encourages strong oral skills
Connecting biblical principles to everyday life helps
WHAT THIS MEANS FOR STUDENTS
Feel uncomfortable speaking in schools when they
are in the minority
Do not feel they can read and write about their
Do not like busy work e.g. irrelevant worksheets
Are often not confident in decoding examination
Prefer group work but only when relevant
See ICT and behaviour of others as barriers to
(Hawk & Hill, 1998)
Students who are better able to recognise and understand the
different rules for their environment, for example school, and
adapt their identities to suit are able to achieve better
educational outcomes . (Mila-Schaff, 2010 p 14)
The main way of coping is to keep the worlds separate and to
move from one to another, rather than to attempt to reconcile
the differences. (Hawk & Hill, 1998 p 2).
To improve student achievement, schools and teachers need
to explicitly acknowledge and teach the world views and social
rules of the academic environment (Alton-Lee, 2003 p 32)
For literacy education in secondary schools, the literacy values
and expectations of these worlds may be very different.
WHAT WORKS FOR SCHOOLS?
Encouraging first language acquisition
improves the understanding of the target
language. (Alton-Lee, 2003 p 33)
Increasing the presence of Pasifika languages
in all schools (McKay, 2002 p 16)
Improving home-school lines of communication
(Alton-Lee, 2003 p 16)
WHAT WORKS FOR TEACHERS
Allow students to brainstorm/take notes in their
Teach literacy strategies which are clear,
scaffolded and explicit
Use texts that are relevant to the students’
interests and culture. (Tuafiti, Pua and Schajiik,
Model- show what success looks like
Build on strengths
(Hill & Hawk 2011)
THINKING ABOUT LEARNING STRUCTURE
How does your late student know what to do?
Can your students explain what they are
learning and why?
How is your learning scaffolded?
What strategies do your students have for
How would your gifted students say they were
SESSION 2: WHAT IS CRITICAL LITERACY?
What is Critical Literacy?
CRITICAL LITERACY THEORY
Critical Literacy in the Classroom
The text is a starting point for thinking, not the
end point of reading.
All texts are biased.
Readers bring their own culture and
understanding to a text.
The benefits to Pasifika students are that it
extends reading to include understanding and
criticism which is essential to NCEA success.
HOW MIGHT THIS HELP PASIFIKA STUDENTS
Critical Literacy is about helping students to see
that all texts are cultural constructs, and therefore
they can be questioned and challenged.
For Pasifika Students, who do not traditionally
question the text, it may provide a new lens to
For teachers, using this approach can help create
specific and targeted activities for student needs.
AN EXAMPLE: LEVEL 2 ENGLISH
‘V for Vendetta’ is a film specifically about challenging
the status quo.
This text is from the dystopian genre is currently popular,
and students struggle with how to question the text, a
skill necessary for level 2 achievement.
This task is designed to give students the background to
the film, and also use critical literacy approaches to
show them how to analyse the film before they begin
The Pasifika students found it challenging, but helpful in
developing the level of response required.
STEP 1: LINK TO PRIOR KNOWLEDGE
The first step is a group
discussion about these
THINK: About these
PAIR: with the person next
to you and discuss them,
SHARE: With the group
The questions for this
slide are targeted at
Textual Structures and
Features, box 2 on your
handout. as well as linking
to prior knowledge.
STEP 2: SELECT TARGET SKILL/AREA
Students need more
practice at close
reading for explicit
Explicit teaching of
the wider text, e.g.
guy Fawkes is
essential to allow
access to the
STEP 3: TEXT AS CONSTRUCT
The questions on this slide
are targeted at ‘TEXTUAL
Trailers are a useful way of
helping students become
interested in the film, and
understand key ideas.
For Pasifika students, the
benefits are that the skills
for learning are explicitly
taught before the main text
becomes the focus of
V for Vendetta Trailer
STEP 4: MAKE THE LEARNING EXPLICIT
and students were
asked: Why did the
THESE images for
This is to get
about texts as
before viewing the
SESSION 3: WHAT DOES CRITICAL LITERACY
Task 1: In groups (4-6 people)
1: On your hand out (Part A), you have a column
for teaching strategies next to the critical
2. In groups, divide the areas and brainstorm
activities you can use to teach these skills.
3. Share with the group and add to it.
ACTIVITY 2: TAKEAWAY!
In pairs, you all have some texts by Pasifika
Use the activities you just developed to design
a lesson for a class.
Thinking points: Are there any ideas and
concepts which might be new to your students?
How will you teach them?
Which skills will you choose to develop?
Check the KWL chart and if your ‘W’ has been
answered, move it into the ‘L’ column.
Q & A session
Talk to your neighbour about how you can use these
ideas in practice
Absolum, M (2006) Clarity in the classroom: Using formative assessment New Zealand, Hooder
Alton-Lee, A (2003) Quality teaching for diverse students in schooling: Best evidence synthesis.
Wellington: Ministry of Education
Behrman, E. H. (2006). Teaching about language, power, and text: A review of classroom practices
that support critical literacy. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 49(6), 490-498. Retrieved
Brown-Jeffy, S., & Cooper, J. E. (2011). Toward a Conceptual Framework of Culturally Relevant
Pedagogy: An Overview of the Conceptual and Theoretical Literature. Teacher Education Quarterly,
Dickie, J. G. (2008). Pasifika Students, Literacy as Social Practice, and the Curriculum. New
Zealand Annual Review of Education, 17, 107-124.
Dickie, J. G. (2010). Proclaiming the good news: Samoan children, church literacy and
comprehension. SET research Information for teachers, 2, 25-31.
Dickie, J. G. (2011). Samoan students documenting their out-of-school literacies: An insider view on
conflicting values. Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, 34(3), 247-259.
FURTHER READING 2
Fletcher, J., Parkhill, F., & Fa'afoi, A. (2005). What factors promote and support
Pasifika students in reading and writing?. Set: research Information for Teachers, 2,
Hill, J., & Hawk, K. (2000). Making a difference in the classroom: Effective teaching
practice in low decile, multicultural schools (5459). Retrieved from Ministry of
Education, Research Division website:
Janks, H. (2010). Literacy and Power. New York: Routledge.
Mila-Schaaf, K., & Robinson, E. (2010). 'Polycultural' capital and educational
achievement among NZ born Pacific Peoples. Mai Review, 1.
New Zealand Ministry of Education (2004) Effective Literacy Strategies in years 9-
13: A Guide for Teachers Wellington, NZ: Learning Media Ltd.
Siope , A. (2011). The schooling experiences of Pasifika students. Set: research
information for teachers, 3, 10-16.
Tuafuti, P., Pua, V., & Schajiik, S. (2011). Raising Pasifika children's achievement and
literacy levels: Assumptions and risks. He Kupu, 2(4), 1971.
Tufulasi Taleni, L., Parkhill, F., Fa'afoi, A., & Fletcher, J. (2007). Pasifika Students:
What Supports them to become better readers?. Pacific Asian Education, 19(2), 56-
Wendt Samu, T. (2006). The 'Pasifika Umbrella' and quality teaching: Understanding
and responding to the diverse realities within. Waikato Journal of Education, 12, 35-