NZ Sign Language

Why learn and teach NZSL?

New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) is recognised as an official language of New Zealand through the New Zealand Sign Language Act 2006 and has special mention in The New Zealand Curriculum (2007).
Learning NZSL gives hearing people insight into the NZ Deaf community. In turn, this allows Deaf people to communicate with hearing people more easily. Thus, our society becomes more inclusive. And as more New Zealanders learn NZSL, one of our country’s official languages, a distinct Aotearoa New Zealand identity is built.
Thumbs Up! An Introduction to New Zealand Sign Language is a communicative language resource designed to help students and teachers express themselves in a new language and communicate with those who use NZSL in their daily lives. It also supports teacher learning - please see some of the links below.
The website is full of information, lesson plans, videos, "how to" guides and assessment tasks.
Learners of NZSL can be of any age, and they can have diverse experiences and needs. They may be deaf, hearing impaired, or hearing.When entering the ECE, school or college environment, learners may have:
  • a strong background in NZSL, where the language is their normal means of communicating with their family and other members of the Deaf community. Spend time building relationships with the families to give yourselves the "bigger picture".
  • family or caregivers who use NZSL to communicate
  • little or no prior experience of NZSL
  • some prior experience of NZSL, although they do not come from homes where NZSL is used.

Within each of these groups of learners, there is diversity. At all levels, learners of NZSL are likely to show the full range of individual differences found in any group of learners. Some will have special talents with language, and some will have special educational needs. When teachers are planning their programmes, they need to focus on the actual learners, find out what they already know and can do, and take account of their diverse requirements.
Deaf Aotearoa’s Hauora* service is a nationwide service that understands and responds to Deaf and hard-of-hearing people’s needs.
There are a range of NZSL learning resources out there.
Learn NZSL is a free learning portal on New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL). NZSL is the language of New Zealand’s Deaf community and an official language of New Zealand. Whether you’re studying NZSL, trying to connect with a Deaf friend, or just having fun with a new language, Learn NZSL has a lot to offer!