New Zealand Sign Language 1


Close-up photo of hands signingOverview:
New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) is the language of the New Zealand Deaf community and was recognised as an official language in 2006.

In this beginner’s course, you’ll learn basic NZSL skills necessary for simple communication with Deaf people.

This class is in NZSL only – so leave your voice at the door and come and learn sign language in a fun and interactive way!

Course materials
All printed course materials are provided and additional online resources are available at no additional cost.

Target audience:
New Zealand Sign Language 1 is suitable for beginners who wish to gain an introduction to NZSL.

Learning objectives:
By the end of this course, you should be able to:

1. exchange greetings and make introductions
2. understand simple class instructions
3. talk about NZSL learning
4. ask for clarification, correction and confirmation
5. ask and tell where something is in the class and in the immediate environment
6. use appropriate phrases for arriving and leaving class
7. talk about common food and drink items
8. make and respond to requests and offers for basic needs and wants
9. express likes and dislikes
10. tell about immediate family/whanau and relationships

You will also learn basic NZSL grammar, acquire basic knowledge about Deaf culture and the Deaf community, and develop an awareness of NZSL communication behaviours.

Course outline:
Each session involves interactive group learning with educational games and plenty of movement!  All classes are in NZSL only.  To reinforce your learning, homework is encouraged. There is no formal assessment.

There is a short break half-way through each session and tea and coffee are provided.  You are welcome to bring further refreshments if you wish.

Class limit:
This course is limited to a maximum of 16 participants, so please enrol early.

Sonia Pivac is a native NZSL signer and a qualified NZSL tutor who has been instrumental in New Zealand Sign Language translation, creating NZSL resources and services promoting NZSL.

Relevant links:

Learn Sign
The Online Dictionary of New Zealand Sign Language
Language Learning Centre
Deaf Studies Research Unit
School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies

For further information:
Continuing Education, Victoria University of Wellington, PO Box 600, Wellington 6140.
Phone 04 463 6556,  Email:

Please note: Courses need a minimum number of enrolments to go ahead. If your course doesn’t reach the number required, we’ll have to cancel it. If this happens, we’ll contact you by phone or email about a week before the scheduled start date and arrange a full refund. Please check your emails regularly.