My name is Van Tran. I am a freelancing research engineer based in Auckland, New Zealand. I like being a freelancer because it allows me to explore many different areas. I have worked in Civil Engineering, Traffic/Urban Modelling, Biotechnology, Waste Management, Financial Engineering and Communication.
My passion lies in creating innovative and sustainable products to serve the communities. I support the whole Open Source idea. Currently, I develop a number of software, which I will ultimately make open source. I am open to hearing from and sharing new ideas with people around the world in the areas of green technologies and/or innovative hi-tech.
Recently I have partnered with Mr. Elviso Togiamua of Matua mo e Tama Aoga Vagahau Niue Trust, a charitable trust focusing on promoting and preserving Niuean Language, to develop solutions to help enhance the uptake of Niuean among young people.
Building knowledge through information and communication technology (ICT) is one of the overarching objectives of UNESCO’s Medium-Term Strategy (34 C/4). In education this goal is particularly relevant: with many young adults and school-age children familiar with the use of smartphones and tablets, traditional language education methods may miss a golden opportunity to enhance their learning and uptake of languages.
Niuean is a Polynesian language that requires special attention, as it has been considered an endangered language. However, with renewed interest in keeping the Niuean language alive, there is an opportunity for organisations and governments to encourage young learners such as school-age children and/or young adults to uptake (or at least, familiarise themselves with) this language. This can be done in various ways; but the most effective approach is to provide these young learners with a tool that they can learn directly from their most-prized possession: their smartphones and/or tablets.
Understanding this opportunity and realising that currently there are no Niuean-focussed educational products existing on the market to cater for such learning activities, we intend to develop a Niuean-English/English-Niuean dictionary app. It is intended that this app will help enhance the learning and uptake of the Niuean language among the young Niuean population, particularly the school-age children and the young adults. It is further anticipated that the app can facilitate for easy communication between tourists and the local populace in Niue. The combined effect of these is a greater chance for the language’s survival.
Currently, there are a very small number of young people that are fluent in Niuean. This is a critical factor contributing to the decline of the Niuean language in recent times. However, there have been renewed interests in preserving the Niuean language. In this quest, we realised there is indeed an opportunity to use technology to encourage young people such as school-age children and teenagers to learn the Niuean language. This is due to 3 reasons:
1. Affordable smartphones and tablets are readily available on the market
2. Young people in these age groups are fluent users of such devices; and
3. Such interactions, coupled with their propensity to learn languages quickly, present one of the most effective ways to teach them the language
The result is the Niuean language can be taught to, and learnt by, these young individuals directly from their most-prized possession: their smartphones and/or tablets.
However, currently there are no such educational products existing on the market to cater for such learning activities. This is a missed opportunity; and therefore, it needs to be addressed urgently.
Upon understanding the problem as outlined in the above analysis, we aim to fill the gaps currently existing in the promotion and education of the Niuean language. The first step is to create an IT-based medium through which people can quickly:
1. Understand and learn meanings of Niuean words
2. Search and find equivalent Niuean words by entering English keywords
This ultimately culminates to the development of a Niuean-English/English-Niuean dictionary app. Given there are no extensive online Niuean-English and/or English-Niuean dictionaries currently available, this dictionary app is important to the promotion and preservation objectives of the Niuean language.