Auslan Hub

What makes an effective teacher

Auslan’s growing popularity in schools

Since the beginning of the pandemic, which shone a spotlight on our Auslan interpreters in the media, more and more schools have shown interest in teaching Auslan in their schools. However, there is a real shortage of skilled Auslan teachers. In a perfect world, native Auslan users would be the ones in the classroom teaching the language, even if it’s as an Education Support Staff. If your school is looking to teach Auslan, keep an open mind about employing a native Auslan user in the classroom with a registered teacher to work alongside with. This will ensure the language is taught correctly and with great knowledge.

It’s important to keep in mind that unlike other languages such as Japanese, French, and Indonesian, which all have large populations speaking, and writing the language, Auslan belongs to a small minority with very few resources to protect the language. This means we are reliant on people sharing and using the language correctly, and not ‘tainting’ Auslan with mixed Signed English. It is a very large concern in the community that with more inexperienced Auslan teachers outnumbering experienced and fluent Auslan teachers, pure Auslan will disappear. You can help us by ensuring you are well trained, engaged with the community, and employing Deaf people to be language models in the classroom, and register for our Auslan Professional Developments and training sessions (PDs) to provide you with knowledge and understanding of this beautiful and rich language

Learn Auslan the right way and become a skilled and qualified Auslan teacher

Melbourne  Polytechnic- Prahran VIC (diploma)

La Trobe University- Bunoora VIC

A.C.T Training


National Careers Institute (SA, WA)



Deaf Connect

Beyond lexicalised signs
Lexicalised signs are signs recognised by the community and linguists as official signs. People new to Auslan tend to believe there is a sign for every single English word though, and this is not the case. Understanding how to comprehend and use depicting signs (entity, handling, SASS) and constructed action is vital to gain full access to the language. 

The importance of NMFs
Auslan is a visual language that goes beyond knowing vocabulary which is why learning Auslan can take time to understand and not easily understood in short, six week community courses. It’s expressive and all about using space, movement, non-manual features (NMFs) to express and share information and stories. The phrase ‘Dog, you have’ can be expressed as a statement, question, in disbelief, in surprise, or uncertainty, depending on what facial expression is used. Facial expressions and body language enhance signs in a meaningful way.

Most common questions we get is what’s the sign for ‘is’, ‘at’, ‘to’, ‘for’, but this is coming from the belief that Auslan follows the English word order- it doesn’t. For example, one of the grammar structures is WH-questions at the end:

– My name, what?/ Me, who?– Jenny
– Me, how old?- 35
– My family, who? – mum, dad, sister, brother
– I live, where? – Melbourne
– I quit work, why?- new job.

Another structure is conditional:
– If raining, sports cancelled
 If late, boss will (be) grumpy with you

Time Markers– Time goes first:

Tomorrow, I will fly (to) Brisbane
Next week, school finish(es)
Yesterday, I finish visit shop (you will notice there’s no tense difference when signing. In formal context, we use ‘finish’ for past tense, and ‘will’ for future tense)

For more resources on Auslan syntax and Auslan vocabulary based learning activities, you can purchase our Teaching Guide: Syntax, vocabulary, sequences, assessment.


English: there are lots of cats!
Auslan: Cats, cats, cat, cats! *sign in different spaces to indicate cats all over the place*

Show, don’t tell!
Some signs can be modified to express information. For example we show if it’s raining lightly or heavily by modifying movement and facial expressions.

For more examples, purchase our Teaching Guide- Show, don’t tell.