Learning & Information | Rukuhia Te Puna Mātauranga

Learning sign language, it’s a breeze

22 March 2018 – Auckland school boy Brooklyn started signing when he was 2.

He’s used to people staring when he signs – usually they just want him to teach them some simple phrases.

Brooklyn finds he has a fight to be included; he has big ambitions but worries the world might not be ready for him.

New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) is the language of the New Zealand deaf community. Signs are formed by a combination of hands, facial expressions, lip patterns and body language.

Although NZSL shares some similarities with British Sign Language and Australian Sign Language, NZSL is unique to New Zealand.

Since 2006, NZSL has been one of New Zealand’s official languages. In fact, more than 24,000 New Zealanders use NZSL every day.

Here are a few places you can learn sign language:

First signs

First Signs is a programme to support family and whānau of deaf and hard-of-hearing children aged 0-5 years to learn NZSL. The service is delivered by Deaf Aotearoa.

Visit the website for lots of resources, especially for children, including stories, rhymes and phrases for special celebrations like birthdays and Christmas.

Learn NZSL

Learn NZSL is a free learning portal. Watch, learn and practise how to use NZSL in common situations like meeting people, being at work, and going on holiday. Within each topic, there are videos, resources and exercises to support your learning.

Online New Zealand Sign Language Dictionary

The NZSL Dictionary from Victoria University has over 5000 entries – and it’s expanding all the time.

You can search the dictionary for keywords in English or Māori, search by topic or search for features of a sign (for example handshape or location).

There’s also an app for your phone.

New Zealand Sign Language Week

Deaf Aotearoa runs New Zealand Sign Language Week in May every year.

NZSL Week raises awareness of New Zealand’s deaf community and promotes their language and culture.

Events take place throughout the week. There are also some good downloadable resources available on the website.

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