OnKiwi 6th February, New Zealanders commemorate a significant day in their national history, Waitangi Day. This public holiday celebrates the signing of The Treaty of Waitangi in 1840 between representatives of the British Crown and Maori chiefs of the North Island of New Zealand recognising the Māori people of New Zealand the ownership of the land and the right to be British subjects.

In this small island country of the South Pacific, English and Maori are official languages.

New Zealand English, however, has its own dialectic idiosyncrasies, especially in its pronunciation and vocabulary. In this first lesson about New Zealand, you will have the opportunity to focus  learners on cultural aspects of Kiwi language and culture.

For this lesson, you will need the following resources:Kiwi

  • the New Zealand Quiz (see Figure 1)
  • and a desk bell

Figure 1

Answers to the quiz: 1 – c, 2 – c,3 – b, 4 – a, 5 – b, 6 – b, 7 – c, 8 – a, 9 – b, 10 – a, 11 – b, 12 – b, 13 – b, 14 – b, 15 – a, 16 – b, 17 – a, 18 – c, 19 – a

Start by explaining the activity to the learners. Tell them that you are going to have a competition.  For this, organise the learners into teams A, B, C etc. Give each team a copy of the New Zealand English quiz below and tell them that they have 5 minutes to answer the questions 1 to 19. Refrain from assisting them at this time.

After that, ask the learners to assign numbers to the people in their teams e.g. L1, L2, L3 etc. Place the desk bell in the middles of the classroom and explain to the teams the competition.

Tell them that you will read one question at a time. At your signal, all L1’s must run for the bell and try to hit it. The first learner to do so gets a chance to answer the question. If the answer is correct, this learner’s team gets a point. If the answer is wrong, the first learner, from the other teams to hit the bell, gets a go at the question. Repeat the procedure for questions 2, 3, 4 etc. with learners taking turns according to their assigned numbers. Tally the scores on the board. At the end of the competition, give the following badges to the players in the winning team. They will be honorary ‘Kiwis’ for the day.

Go over the answers to the questions with the whole class again, this time paying close attention to various aspects of language and culture. I’d recommend using different techniques for highlighting relevant features of pronunciation. For example, get the learners to mark the stress on the words with more than one syllable e.g. New Zealand, Australia, Kiwi, Maori and so on. Use phonemic symbols for one-syllable words such as bach, fern, hug, hongi, etc. Focus the learners on vowel length in words like judder bars, chilly bin, fizzy, etc. I like to use a rubber band for this.  Deal with cultural information about the vocabulary e.g. a jersey is normally referred to as a jumper in the UK and a pullover in the US, a chilly bin is an esky in Australia, a cool box in Britain and a cooler in the US.

Wrap-up the lesson by using Wikipedia to focus the learners on information about the Māori people of New Zealand and their language Te Reo Māori tɛ ˈɾɛɔ ˈmaːɔɾi/.

When I was a boy, I used to enjoy playing children’s games such as Tag. They were great team spirit builders.

In this activity,I would like to share an idea for giving learners practice of phonemic symbols. The activity can be adapted for a class of any size and  level but works particularly well with large and lower-level classes.

First, prepare TAGS for the activity.  For these, use phonemic symbols (see sample in Figure 1)  downloaded free of charge from

Phonemic Symbols

Also, create a TAGGER’s card as in Figure 1.

To prepare the tags, I cut up the phonemic symbols, stick them onto a sheet of A4 paper, laminate them and tie some string to them so that the learners can hang them around their necks e.g.

Figure 1

One advantage of laminating the TAGS, is that they last a long time and you can re-use them for warmers any time during a course.

TIP: Please note that you may not be able to use all the sounds from the phonemic chart with your class, so be selective here. One suggestion would be to give the learners tags of sounds which they find problematic or require more practice of. Alternatively, you may swap tags during the activity. For instance, start with individual vowel sounds and then swap these for diphthongs half way through the activity.

If you have the availability of a playground in your school, take the learners there for this activity.

Give the learners the tags with the phonemic symbols on but make sure one learner gets the TAGGER one.

Explain the activity to the class.  Tell them that the object of the game is to tag, or touch, other people in order to form the sounds of one syllable words. For example, the tagger chases and tags other people and when he or she touches them, they become ‘living statues’. The tagger then says a word which contains the sound the person is carrying, as in Figure 2:

Figure 2

If the pronunciation of the word is correct, the tag is passed on the person who has been touched and the activity continues.

Once the learners have had enough practice, or are feeling tired of chasing and tagging, get them back into the classroom. Ask them to recall some of the words they have formed or heard during the game and put these onto the board. Get the learners to teach these to one another by putting them into example sentences.

This is a short post and I hope you enjoy it. If so, tag it please.


Arizio Sweeting