NZ Sign Language - Term 3, 2020

Did you know?

  • From the beginning of Term 3, the two Deaf Education Centres in New Zealand have been merged into one new school called Ko Tāku Reo
  • Follow this link to read about the new name and learn the sign for the new school
  • NZSL became an Official Language of Aotearoa New Zealand in 2006
  • NZSL is a University approved subject for NCEA

Learn Sign

The NZSL Online Dictionary is available as an app or online:

Kia ora, tēnā koe

NZ Sign Image - Term 3 2020.png


Support for teachers

  • New Zealand Relay Service (NZ Relay) is a telecommunications service for people who are Deaf, hearing impaired, Deaf-blind, or speech impaired. You can use NZ Relay to make telephone calls to family, businesses and government departments – anyone who has a phone.
  • To view the Ministry of Education’s page for school support for DHH students:  Click here

Interested in learning NZ Sign Language? 

Take a tour through our Master stream on the Future Learning Solutions website to find courses available through different universities around NZ:

Or find a community class with TeachSign – this site lists all the community classes available around the country: Click here 

Or you can learn basic sign language online with LearnNZSL.  This is a free learning portal and covers basic language such as greetings, needs and wants, family, everyday activities etc.  Check it out here:

Deaf Aotearoa also offer Deaf Awareness courses for businesses and organisations that can be booked through their website:

Meet the Educator

Lisa Sharman is the new Deputy Head of Enrolled School at Ko Tāku Reo.  Van Asch and Kelston Deaf Education Centres have merged and started at the beginning of Term 3, 2020 as Ko Tāku Reo, the national school for Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) students.

Lisa is deaf herself, and is a bilingual user of English and NZ Sign Language.  As a young woman, Lisa always wanted to work with deaf children and after finishing Teacher’s College, she worked in mainstream schools before completing her Teacher of the Deaf training and began working at Kelston Girl’s College Deaf Bilingual Provision.  

In her new role as Deputy Head of Enrolled School, Lisa is part of the team that oversees 10 Deaf units in Auckland and 3 in Christchurch.  These are situated in partner schools where students receive the specialist services of Speech Language Therapists, Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists and trained Teachers of the Deaf.  At the same time, they are included in the mainstream school activities and learn along side mainstream students.  Building and maintaining relationships with these partner schools is a key area of Lisa’s work.

Lisa finds one of the most rewarding aspects of her role is seeing the confidence grow in students as they become ready to face the world.  She is most proud of the opportunities that have been created at Massey High School for DHH students.  This is the second year that students have enrolled at the Trade’s Academy at Massey High.  She says, “It’s great to see them grow and achieve goals, by finding them study options that they enjoy you can see they have a sparkle in their eyes , they have goals, and they are mixing with other students not just deaf students.”

A lot of the success of Ko Tāku Reo is down to focusing on the students’ wellbeing and identity.  “We work to nurture the social and emotional wellbeing of Deaf and Hard of hearing children and help them grow their own identity.  Many Deaf students feel isolated and disconnected in their mainstream schools.  Coming to Ko Tāku Reo gives them opportunities to meet other Deaf students, have Deaf role models and find their identity. We also provide support and resources to help them reach their academic potential.” says Lisa.

The main challenge for students is that hearing loss means you can’t pick up what’s going on around you and that includes social skills.  Lisa says, “Students need a lot of explanation about what’s appropriate and what isn’t – they need lots of visual cues to help them learn - pictures, role plays, show and tell.”

Lisa’s advice for mainstream teachers with DHH students in their classes is to have the same high expectations as they would for their regular students.  She says “When you praise a DHH student make sure they understand that they are being praised and the language you are using.  They don’t hear enough praise.  Believe in them and make sure they know that you do.” It is important to remember Deaf and Hard of Hearing children can do anything just like everyone else.

By Stephanie Mortimore, Facilitator, Future Learning Solutions - Centre for Languages