I have been learning New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) for about six months now and I am loving it. I would have to say it is one of the most interesting and engaging things I have in a long time. I find NZSL very beautiful to watch and the progression in my ability to communicate in this language is very motivating and enticing. So why am I learning NZSL? Well several reasons really. Firstly, I did a taster course a few years ago and I have always wanted to learn more. Secondly, as I said above, I find watching someone use Sign very beautiful. Every time I meet with one of my deaf friends or see a skilled interpreter, I am taken with the fluidity of their sign and I want that too! I have motivation, with several people in my life being deaf or loosing their hearing. Lastly, as an official language of New Zealand and with a population of some 28,000 people using the it, I should try to be at least competent (but of course I want more than that). I am aware that currently I am more proficient in NZSL than Maori (NZ's other official language). That is a learning experience for another day.
I have been lucky enough, through taking opportunities, friends and my NZSL class, to develop friendships with some wonderful people from the deaf community. I am cherishing the time I spend with them chatting and getting to know them better. I think that because conversation is not as easy as it would normally be for me with a native English speaker, I am actually getting to know them better. I am being more observant as I talk with them and they talk with me. This is one of the keys of good NZSL and the deaf community. Observation and awareness are key to understanding what is going on.
So as we head into Christmas, I feel very happy with my progress learning NZSL in 2012. I have a real thirst for more and look forward to being a lot more fluent by the end of 2013.