New Zealand Sign Language - English Interpreting Major - Bachelor of Arts

Professional sign language interpreters are in high demand. Sign language interpreters are essential to ensure the Deaf community has access to New Zealand legal, educational and health systems. This major prepares you for a career as a sign language interpreter.

You become familiar with the Deaf community and culture, and helping you achieve proficiency in New Zealand Sign Language. In the second and third year you’re introduced to the interpreting profession, including the history of interpreting locally and internationally. You develop interpreting skills for a wide range of settings, and explore the ethical issues of sign language interpreting.

Scholarships from the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Economic Development are available for NZSL interpreting students:


This is part of the Bachelor of Arts.

Our dynamic classroom environment encourages student participation at each stage of the learning journey. Our strong relationships with the Deaf community and interpreting professionals mean that you have access to up-to-date information and a range of guest speakers.

Develop advanced NZSL and interpreting skills to prepare you for a career as a professional interpreter. Courses also focus on ethical decision making, the translation and interpreting processes, and business-related skills like networking and professional conduct.

Core courses

All students in the Bachelor of Arts complete core courses that cover effective communication, critical thinking and other transferable skills you'll need for your future career.

COMM570 Academic Communication
CLSY500 Culture and Society
CLSY504 Knowledge and Inquiry
HIST690 Te Tiriti O Waitangi: Treaty of Waitangi
NZSL707 NZSL Interpreting Practicum Experience I – Observations
NZSL708 NZSL Interpreting Practicum Experience II – Professional Practice

New Zealand Sign language - English Interpreting courses

Year 1 courses

NZSL510 New Zealand Sign Language 1
NZSL520 New Zealand Sign Language 2
NZSL600 New Zealand Sign Language Discourse
NZSL502 Deaf Community and Culture I
NZSL602 Deaf Community and Culture II

The first year focuses on developing fluency in New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL), and the study of the Deaf community and culture.

You need to complete Year 1 courses with at least a B grade average in the language courses to progress to Year 2. If you don't achieve at least a B grade average in the Year 1 language courses, you need to continue with an alternative major.

Year 2 courses

TRIN603 Interpreter Role, Ethics and Practice
TRIN604 Societal Contexts for Interpreters and Translators
NZSL610 New Zealand Sign Language 3
NZSL620 New Zealand Sign Language 4
NZSL710 New Zealand Sign Language 5
NZSL702 Current Issues in the Deaf World
NZSL703 Comparative Analysis of English and NZSL
NZSL704 NZSL Interpreting 1 — Dialogic Interactions

Year 3 courses

NZSL705 NZSL Interpreting 2 — Monologic Interactions
NZSL706 NZSL Interpreting 3 — Advanced Interpreting Techniques
TRIN708 Advanced Legal Interpreting and/or TRIN705 Advanced Health Interpreting
TRIN702 Advanced Interpretation Legal Studies and/or TRIN704 Advanced Interpretation Health Studies
NZSL707 NZSL Interpreting Practicum Experience I — Observations
NZSL708 NZSL Interpreting Practicum Experience II — Professional Practice

Workplace experience

Workplace experience is a key part of your final year. In the first semester you’ll be in the community, observing and learning from professional interpreters in a wide range of settings. In the second semester, you’ll be interpreting alongside professional interpreters, your lecturers, and classmates.

Recent placements included:

  • Auckland Zoo
  • Auckland Art Gallery
  • Workplace meetings
  • University lectures
  • Parent-baby groups
  • Community workshops

To participate in AUT's New Zealand Sign Language - English Interpreting major you need to be able to:

  • Adequately hear and process spoken language in a wide range of settings, including when there is significant background noise and people talking over one another
  • See clearly including in low light and across distances
  • Speak and write English with a high level of proficiency, including an extensive vocabulary and the ability to adapt language to different levels of formality
  • Speak in a clear voice
  • Use hands, arms, fingers in a skilled and coordinated way (manual dexterity)

NZSL fluency is not required to begin this programme; although we would direct any beginner level applicants to this free online tool to start learning some basics: http://www.learnnzsl.nz

  • Interpreting settings in the Deaf community including:
  • Medical centres and district health boards
  • Legal profession
  • Compulsory education
  • University
  • Public events
  • Employment
  • Theatre
  • Counselling
  • Education
  • Mental health
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Find out more about industry trends, job descriptions and what employers may be looking for.

NZ Sign Language & Interpreting Careers

Key features
  • Only degree qualification as a NZSL English interpreter
  • Suitable for school leavers and for people with no sign language proficiency
  • Many opportunities to practise your skills with the Deaf community
  • 24-week interpreting placement in your final year, working alongside qualified NZSL interpreters
See yourself as
  • Passionate about working with the Deaf community
  • Interested in people and a team player
  • A communicator
  • Confident in public situations

The information on this page was correct at time of publication. For a comprehensive overview of AUT qualifications, please refer to the Academic Calendar.

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