New Zealand Sign Language 1


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.

Sara Pivac Alexander is a Lecturer for the Deaf Studies Research Unit at Victoria University and has taught New Zealand Sign Language at the university since 2006.

or Lisa Alexander is a qualified New Zealand Sign Language tutor.  She also has experience leading teams of tutors delivering NZSL and Deaf Awareness courses to organisations around New Zealand.

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

‘Enjoyed the interactive nature of the course and the recapping of previous lessons to cement learning’ – NZSL 1 participant, 2016.

‘I was impressed by the well-organised programme and resources, the design of the practice exercises and the way Sara built each week’s new information on the last’ – NZSL 1 participant, 2016.

‘I particularly commend the way the classes build consistently on the previous one so that we are constantly getting consolidation and new material is contextualised really well.  As learners, we are never made to feel stupid or unsafe’ – NZSL 2 participant, 2016.

‘I look forward to my NZSL classes each week.  Sara's a fantastic teacher and the class is really cohesive.  The feedback (particularly correcting our sloppy signing!) is always positive and I continue to learn new things every week’ – NZSL 4 participant, 2016.

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.