The Ako Conceptual Framework: A culturally and linguistically responsive pedagogy

Year: 2016

Author: Pale, Maryanne, Amituanai-Toloa, Meaola

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In considering the development of a culturally and linguistically responsive pedagogy for English language and literacy instruction in Tongan bilingual classrooms, the Ako Conceptual Framework was designed to address Tongan strengths-based principles, values and educational concepts relevant to the quest for academic success of Tongan students who reside in New Zealand (Pale, 2013). This paper presents the theoretical propositions that the Ako Conceptual Framework has to offer for the education of Tongan students and more generally, Pacific students. It is argued that, in order to adequately address the learning needs and the learning interests of a Tongan, the identity of a Tongan learner needs to be set apart from that of the identity of a Pacific learner, English language learner (ELLs), or an English Speaker of Other Language (ESOL), or that of a bilingual learner (Pale, 2013). The 2013 New Zealand census indicated that 7.4% of the national population (295,941 people) identified with one or more Pacific ethnic groups (Statistics New Zealand, 2013). Similarly, the 2011 Australian census which indicated that 1.3% of the national population (279,228 people) identified with one or more Pacific ethnic groups (Statistics from the 2011 Census). In addition, 16,008 people in the 2011 Australian census identified that the language that was spoken at home was Tongan (Statistics from the 2011 Census). The New Zealand Ministry of Education has included Pacific students as one of the priority learner groups by implementing the Pacific Education Strategy 2013–2017 as a means of engaging Pacific students in education and achieving positive results (May, Cowles, & Lamy, 2012). However, the 2012 PISA survey results for New Zealand show that over one-third of Pacific students performed below Level 2 for reading (at 34%) and a relatively small proportion attained Level 5 and above in reading, at 4% (May, Cowles, & Lamy, 2012). The growing Pacific populations in New Zealand and Australia are indicative of the need to explore and understand cultural differences and how that can be embedded into the pedagogical practices of teachers, particularly in the teaching of English Language and Literacy in schools. The Ako Conceptual Framework provides insight to a culturally and linguistically responsive pedagogy which can be used to inform and engage teacher practice and student learning and engagement for the purpose of enhancing student academic achievement.