Adapting TeachSign for Te Reo Māori settings

It was identified in August 2017 at a two-day Think Tank meeting initiated by the Office for Disability Issues and facilitated by Ennoble, that there was a need for the TeachSign curriculum to be adapted to help NZSL tutors teach NZSL specifically in Te Reo Māori settings.

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There are currently no teaching resources to help NZSL tutors teach and connect with learners in these settings. The TeachSign Level One community education curriculum has supported NZSL tutors since 2014 with their teaching. The NZSL Board is currently building a framework for professional development, registration, and resource development that support the quality of NZSL teaching and learning.

Early 2018, the Office for Disability Issues contracted work to CreateNZSL on the development of learning outcomes for a NZSL Level Two curriculum . The work involved not only included the collation of data from NZSL tutors across New Zealand and sign language curriculum research but also information required to be obtained on how the TeachSign Level One curriculum could be adapted to support the learning of NZSL in Te Reo Māori settings. The work from this project would be used to inform further NZSL curriculum-related projects.

Adapting TeachSign for Te Reo Māori settings

Rachel Turner, the project lead for this particular project organised an advisory group meeting in Auckland late March 2018. Experienced Māori NZSL tutors and Te Reo Māori consultants attended this meeting and looked at the first three units of the TeachSign curriculum and discussed which parts to adapt.

Rachel Turner says, “Overall it was a very positive meeting and it was the first time Māori NZSL tutors have been brought together to look at NZSL teaching materials. It was an exciting day for us all.”

The NZSL Board has agreed to move forward with the next phase of the project ($8,415). The adaptions will focus on making drawings culturally appropriate so that Te Reo Māori is visible throughout the curriculum. The PowerPoint materials will also be adapted, with not only Te Reo Māori terms incorporated but Te Ao Māori worldview such as the ability to introduce oneself using a mihi.

Adapting TeachSign for Te Reo Māori settings

Rachel Turner will lead the next phase of this project, supported by Stephanie Awheto (Te Reo Consultant) and Rachel Walker (Curriculum Developer).

This work is considered of importance as learning NZSL in New Zealand is usually done in a Pakeha space and this disadvantages not only Māori learners but students interested in learning in a Māori-friendly environment. This work will allow not only Māori Deaf tutors but other NZSL tutors to feel confident teaching in Te Reo Māori settings. The curriculum can be taught by any NZSL tutor in a Te Reo Māori-friendly environment.

Further funding will also be allocated towards professional development to ensure that NZSL tutors are confident and culturally responsive in using these new resources. Further consideration for adaptations to the remaining units in Level 1 will be undertaken once both projects are completed.

For more information on this project, please contact Rachel Turner at

Adapting TeachSign for Te Reo Māori settings

NZSL video - Adapting TeachSign for Te Reo Māori settings

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