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NZSL as a Qualification

The young kiwi generation choosing and learning NZSL as an elective subject in secondary schools. This part expands about how can students get qualification with NZSL in secondary schools.


NZSL is now a school subject under National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA) qualifications for senior secondary school students. The NZSL Curriculum was developed by experienced and skilled Deaf teachers in collaboration with the Ministry of Education. 

Communication is a priority in New Zealand’s language learning curriculum. The curriculum currently follows the ‘traditional’ view that linguistic proficiency is based on reading, writing, listening and speaking.  It is appropriate to recognise two additional skills, viewing (receptive skill) and presenting/ performing (productive skill) to support the status of official languages, NZSL and Te Reo Māori (East, 2012).  With NZSL in the NZ Curriculum, students will view the signer and watch NZSL videos, then learn to present information in NZSL. Students should be able to have meaningful interactions in real-life situations.

Awareness and knowledge about NZSL as an alternative language subject within secondary schools is at a developmental stage. However, the 2017 changes and development of other NZSL learning resources should encourage students to collect NCEA credits for their further NZSL study at university or develop professional NZSL career opportunities.


NZSL Teaching Curriculum is designed for trialling access to different areas of general knowledge and skills in relation to NZSL as well cultural aspects of the Deaf community.

  • NZSL for NCEA levels 1 to 3
  • all children including deaf and non-deaf and hearing students
  • Available in early 2017 for school students


Cokely, D., & Baker-Shenk, C. (1991). American Sign Language. Washington, United States: Gallaudet University Press.

East, M. (2012). Task-Based Language Teaching from the Teachers' Perspective: Insights from New Zealand. Auckland, New Zealand: The University of Auckland.

New Zealand Qualification Authority. NCEA study resource. New Zealand Sign Language. Website:

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