ELP Living Well in Christchurch, NZ Sign Language Class: 2018 Award for Community Based Programme of the Year Tangata Tiriti

The 2018 ACE Aotearoa Annual Award for Community Based Programme of the Year Tangata Tiriti has been awarded to ELP Living Well in Christchurch, NZ Sign Language Class.

English Language Partners (ELP) New Zealand works with refugees and migrants to provide English language for effective resettlement. Provision for refugees is a priority. With input from other community organisations and many volunteer hours, ELP Christchurch has developed a programme for former refugees who have little or no previous education, have no English, and are deaf.

The group has one deaf teacher and one hearing teacher who is proficient in NZ Sign Language. The teachers’ commitment to learning goes beyond just teaching in the classroom. They design materials and resources and have developed learning outcomes particular to the needs of learners.

Most of the learners are from Bhutan. They have spent many years living in refugee camps and experienced prolonged hardship and trauma. They are pre-literate, having had no previous education and, in some cases, no previous knowledge of any language, including formal sign language. They face many challenges and need specialized help to settle well in New Zealand.

The programme encourages learners to participate in all aspects of Christchurch community life. The educational activities of the class, such as visits to local facilities, also increase positive attitudes towards hearing impairment, NZ Sign Language and refugee communities.

Though the class is taught separately, the learners are part of the English Language Partners ESOL Literacy Programme and are actively encouraged to get to know other learners in the programme. In celebration of New Zealand Sign Language Week 2017, the deaf learners ran a New Zealand Sign Language class for some of the other learners and staff in the ESOL Literacy Programme.

Click here to see the 2018 award winners.