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Name Signs in Classrooms: Teacher and Students Perspectives

Do you give name signs to your sign language students? This presentation explores beliefs and practices around bestowing name signs on second language learners in SL classrooms. What do SL teachers think about giving name signs to students? What types of name signs are given? When and where are they given? Are there differences between the name signs of Deaf people and of learners? Does teachers’ age-group influence the type of name signs they give? How do deaf teachers feel about investing energy in creating name signs? How do students feel about getting, or not getting a name sign? 

This presentation will share the results of a current study on name sign practices in New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) classes from teacher and student perspectives. Participants will then discuss their experiences in their own sign language classrooms to raise awareness of this aspect of constructing sign language learner identity.

Video (password required)


Sara Pivac Alexander

Sara Pivac Alexander

Sara Pivac Alexander, BA (Auckland) MA (Victoria), she is a New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) lecturer at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand. She teaches NZSL and trains Deaf people to become NZSL teachers. Sara recently authored Learn NZSL, an e-learning website for beginner NZSL learners nationwide that has high production values, and TeachSign website, an information and resource hub for NZSL teachers. She is one of the Compilation Editors for the NZSL Online Dictionary. Sara was a member of the founding NZSL Board, to support promotion and maintenance of NZSL by providing expert advice to the government. She is also an active member of the NZSL Teachers Association. Sara hails from a Deaf family and was an AFS exchange high school student to Hinsdale South High School in the United States.