Learning Sign Language basics

By MAS Team | 26 May 2020

If you look around, Sign Language is everywhere. So why not take a crack at one of our country's official languages? It's beautiful, easy to learn and super useful in and out of your studies. Support the deaf and up your New Zealand Sign Language game by starting with the basics. 


Fingerspell with the alphabet

Every beginner starts by fingerspelling words. Check out the alphabet to get a feel for how to move your fingers. Then, try spelling out your name. 

sign-language-alphabet


Conversation starts for beginners

Once you're confident with fingerspelling, take your conversation up a notch with these conversation starters.

Kia Ora

Kia-Ora-sign

Hold your palm out, then move it to the left or right side twice. 

Morning

Morning-article-v2.jpg

Place your thumb and index finger together. Then move your arm up and over to your side so it's facing upright. 


Night

Night-article-new.jpg

Hold your hand flat with the palm facing out and the thumb slightly away from other fingers. The move your arm down and to the side, at a 90-degree angle. 

Good

Good-article-new.jpg

Form a fist with your thumb sticking up, like a 'thumbs up' gesture. 


How are you?

how-are-you-sign

Start with fingertips placed on your chest. Then move your hands away and make fists at the same time, with thumbs pointing outwards.


My name is...

My-name-is-sign

NZSL grammar structure is different to English. So sign ‘My name what?’ Then fingerspell your name.

My: Move your fist onto your chest.

Name: Hold fist up by your head with two fingers extended. Put these two fingers on the side of your forehead, then move your wrist forward and twist to palm out.

What: With lowered eyebrows, extend your index finger and move it from side to side.


Nice to meet you

nice-to-meet-you-sign

Nice: With a flat hand at your chin, move across and make it a fist.

Meet: Start with your hands apart and your index fingers facing each other. Then move your hands together.

You: Use your index finger to point to the person you are referring to.


Want to learn more?

Now you know the basics, you’re off to a great start. But if you want to up your skills before having a yarn, take a look at the free modules on www.nzsl.nz. or learn on the go with the NZSL Dictionary app, from the Deaf Studies Department at Victoria University.

  • Share

You might also like
Jennifer-Redshaw

Toku Toa, He Toa Rangatira

14 January 2020

MAS Elective Scholarship winner, Jennifer Redshaw, won $1,500 to help towards her elective placement costs with her essay where she was asked to write about the person or people who had been influential in her decision to pursue a medical career.

damn-good-advice-book-cover-listing

17 awesome hacks to make student life easier

8 January 2020

Juggling study, work, and socializing isn’t easy so we’re here to lend a helping hand with these awesome hacks to make student life easier.

Volunteer-Brianna-Pilbrow-supporting-New-Zealand-tamariki-through-volunteering.jpg

Volunteering to support New Zealand tamariki and their whānau

23 November 2020

Medical school student Brianna Pilbrow shares her story supporting New Zealand tamariki and their whānau through volunteering.