The title Thumbs Up! is a play on words across languages. It encourages and celebrates your achievements as a teacher and your students’ learning achievements as you learn NZSL together.
In English, the expression "Thumbs up!" is often accompanied by the gesture of both thumbs in the upright position. It indicates encouragement, approval, and acceptance.
NZSL uses a handshape with the thumbs held up to express a similar range of positive meanings. A single handshape with the same movement of the thumb can also mean a number of words that share the same basic meaning, for example, GOOD, GREAT, FABULOUS, LOVELY, and GOOD-ON-YOU.
The design of this resource acknowledges that this may be your first contact, as a teacher, with NZSL. It enables you to adopt the role of facilitator in the classroom, learning along with your students and, potentially, learning from them. You are encouraged to view yourself as an NZSL learner, too.
Each unit has a distinct theme and four activities. The first activity is designed to introduce new learning. The next two activities reinforce the learning. The fourth activity can be used for additional learning experiences as well as for assessing how well your students have achieved the unit’s objectives.
This resource promotes pair and group work, with the students communicating with each other in NZSL as much as possible. Sessions are likely to be very busy. The pace at which classes work varies, so none of the activities have time limits. Be mindful, though, that students at this level can often successfully learn languages very quickly. Set the pace of your lessons accordingly.
Scheduling lessons varies between schools, but a "little, often" really is the best way to learn another language. We recommend regular timetabling, with three to four half-hour lessons a week.
We also recommend that you view the video clips repeatedly, further supporting the concept of "a little, often". For example, you might show part or all of a video clip before the students go to lunch or at the end of the day – that is, outside scheduled NZSL lesson times.
Take a moment now to become familiar with all the components that make up this resource. Look at some of the supporting video clips. When you teach NZSL using this resource, you will be able to preview the upcoming unit of work online. So will your students. You may also wish to explore opportunities in your local community to further your study of NZSL. We encourage you to do this.
Learning Languages: A Guide for New Zealand Schools offers advice on planning language programmes in schools.