Nine-year-old Noah Waite isn't just learning when he goes to St Joseph's Stratford, he is teaching as well.

Noah is teaching his fellow room seven classmates, and their teacher Carole Door sign language, one of New Zealand's three official languages.

"Sing language is a New Zealand language just like Māori or English. The only difference is you use your hands, not your mouth."

Noah says he has always happily taught his friends how to sign words, and this year is pleased the whole class have decided to learn.

Advertisement

"Mrs Door said it would be nice if everyone in the class learned to sign a new word each week, so now each week everyone learns a new sign and I help show them how to do it properly."

Noah says he grew up using sign as much as English, and is happy his friends are learning it too.

"I have always used sign language at home, because my mum and dad are both deaf, and have always talked to us in sign. When friends come over to my house, I have to translate for them when they want to talk to my mum or dad. By learning sign, they can now talk to mum a bit."

Carole says she likes to draw on the strengths and interests of the individual children in her class, and felt learning sign would be a good class project, as well as helping lessen any communication gap between deaf and hearing people.

The children's parents are also encouraged to learn along with them, with Carol and Noah putting each week's lesson onto a home-school communication app for them.

Pupils from room 7, St Joseph's Stratford, demonstrate their sign language skills.

Noah's classmates are all enjoying learning the new language.

"It is something more people should do, it is one of the main languages in New Zealand," Sophia Smithson (10), says she likes learning the words each week.

Archie Roper (9), says leaning sign is fun, adding Noah is a good teacher.

Noah's mum, Chanelle, says she is thrilled the whole class are learning sign this year.

"I am really proud of everyone at the school for this. It makes a real difference to deaf parents like me."

Chanelle says she was really excited when Chris Linders, the school principal, signed to her recently.

"It was really nice. He saw me at school and signed hello to me and a few things."

Chris says he wanted to make sure deaf parents at the school felt welcome.

"So I asked Noah to teach me some basic sign, so now I am able to talk to Chanelle and other deaf parents a bit more easily."

This week is New Zealand sign language week and Chanelle says people don't have to be at St Joseph's to learn sign.

"I have started a series of videos on Facebook for people to learn. They can search for #signwithchaz and they will find them. They are short videos which you can watch anytime and learn something new."