British Sign Language (or BSL) is a helpful skill to have if you ever want to communicate effectively with deaf people. It consists of hand movements, hand shapes, as well as facial expressions and lip patterns to demonstrate what people want to say. It is estimated that 151,000 people in the UK use British Sign Language and, of these, 87,000 are Deaf. This makes it the second most used language in the UK after English, so it’s well worth to learn BSL!
However, there are only approximately 900 registered BSL interpreters in the UK, so they are in high demand. Therefore, it might be a good career option for you to learn BSL and become an interpreter. This article will provide you with more in-depth information on BSL and why you should learn it. So, without further ado, let’s get started!
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10 Reasons Why You Should Learn BSL
BSL is a lifelong skill that will prove helpful throughout your life. From communicating with the deaf to interpreting as a career. Both public and private sectors require people qualified in British Sign Language, so you could easily land a job after studying BSL. Furthermore, here are the 10 reasons why you should learn British Sign Language (BSL)
1. Make New Friends
There is a whole community of deaf people in the UK just waiting for a friend like you. This community bonds through BSL and you will never be able to communicate with them otherwise. Therefore, learn how to sign and get involved in various deaf communities where you can meet new people and build relationships.
Find friends locally or online and sign with them via video calls to practice your skills. Many cities have deaf clubs that meet up regularly. Thus, it’s a great way to interact with new people. Also, try contacting your local deaf charity, or search for a group using websites such as Meetup.com.
2. Have a Private Conversation Publicly
Have you ever wanted a secret language so you can discuss private matters openly? Provided no one around you can speak sign language, you can say anything you like, and it will fall on deaf ears (excuse the pun). Imagine talking in the cinema without worrying about disturbing those around you. Or discussing something highly personal in a busy café. You can even talk about people in front of them without them ever knowing!
3. BSL can be Better Than Spoken Language
How else could you communicate at a noisy concert, through windows, at a distance or even underwater! Sign language allows you to communicate anywhere, so long as your hands are not full!
4. Learn Body Language
Sign Language relies heavily on body language, and you will soon master the skills to know what someone is thinking by practising BSL. Tap into people’s non-verbal communication from subtle facial cues to body movements and postures.
5. Learning a New Language is Good for Your Brain
Mastering any new skill is good for your personal wellbeing and confidence levels. From learning an instrument to a new language, these new skills are good for your brain. For example, studies have shown that learning a second language can protect your brain against Alzheimer’s and dementia.
However, further studies found that learning languages enhances brain plasticity and increase the capacity to assimilate further knowledge. Signs can vary across the UK, and BSL has its grammar and sentence structures that are different from English, making it a unique language. Just like any spoken language, there are regional variations and colloquialisms in BSL as well.
6. Teach Your Children Sign Language
Not only is it excellent for their brains to learn a new language, but you can tell your kids off in the supermarket without fear of being judged! Moreover, having a secret family language can be very beneficial for such occasions and will teach your children some valuable life skills too. It is so much easier to absorb another language when we are young.
7. Help Others
Deaf people can often feel excluded in social situations. So, imagine how happy you would make someone by knowing how to sign. You might even want to volunteer for some deaf charities. It can also come in handy in a business setting; your customers will love to know that your business is deaf-friendly.
8.Start a New Career
If you are looking for a career change, it could open a path as an interpreter if you learn BSL. Freelance interpreters can earn up to £40 an hour, and they choose their own hours too. You will be able to find work in hearing impairment units in schools, as a campaigner, support worker, audiologist, teacher and many other local government services.
Moreover, you might even end up signing on to a television show and get recognised in the street! The deaf community urgently requires interpreters to assist at medical appointments and hospital visits. Normally deaf people have to rely on family members to translate, or if they have no one to interpret, they must try lip-reading or writing down their questions and responses.
9.Speaking BSL is a Rare Skill
Until 2003, BSL was not recognised as an official language. It was found in a recent survey that more than 9 out of 10 British people don’t know more than 2 words of BSL. So communicating with a deaf person can be very frustrating. Imagine not being able to communicate with a staff member in a supermarket, train station, or restaurant when you need help.
10.Altruism Makes You Feel Good
If you don’t know anyone who is deaf, but you are still willing to learn BSL to make life easier for the deaf, then you are a very good person who deserves to feel accomplished and proud. BSL not only provides a good career, but it’s also the right thing to do because the deaf and hard-of-hearing community often feel left out.
Tips to Learn BSL
Learning a new language can get challenging at times. Therefore, here are some tips to help you learn BSL and overcome some of the challenges.
Practice Makes Perfect
Just like with any new skill, practising daily will help you to memorise the signs you are learning. You can practice in front of a mirror or watch several videos on BSL.
Speak with Deaf People
Practising with someone fluent in BSL will help you to master the skills more effectively. Therefore, you can find new friends online through community groups or social media.
Watch and Copy Interpreters
You will pick up signs easily by watching sign language interpreters. You can watch their interviews or live sessions at deaf events, TV shows or even on live events.
Use an App
Use the “Sign BSL” app which is a British Sign Language Dictionary app. If you are not sure how to sign a word, you can search for it on the app.
Expressive Facial Expressions
Work on your facial expressions. Deaf people use different facial expressions to express feelings and determine the mood of a conversation. It also brings more character to sign language.
Know Your Fingerspelling
This is an easy way to communicate with deaf people without memorising all the word phrases. A little bit of fingerspelling goes a long way to impressing your deaf friends.
Learn Your Grammar
Sign language is not a direct, word for word translation of anyone’s native language. For example, if you wanted to ask your deaf mate if they enjoy travelling by train, you might sign “Train travel, you like?” rather than “Do you like to travel by train?” You might find that communicating with sign language is far more efficient, also far more expressive than our spoken languages.
Enrol in Online BSL Courses
Getting enrolled in BSL courses can help you build up the excellent skillset required for this language. For example, you can learn how to spell names and exchange personal information. Learn the vocabulary to discuss families, the weather, hobbies, animals, transport, food & drink, colours, numbers, describe people and give directions.
In addition, you can also learn how to learn about jobs, buildings, rooms and items in the home, day to day routines, emotions, and countries. At One Education, we have a range of BSL courses, from beginner to advanced levels. These include-, Diploma in BSL and Basics of BSL.
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To conclude, if you learn BSL, there will be many new career opportunities waiting for you. It is also an excellent medium to connect with people with hearing difficulties. Therefore, get enrolled in any accredited BSL courses and weave the path of this beautiful career!
Diploma in British Sign Language (BSL)
Sign up for this Bundle of BSL courses to master Bristish Sign Language
Diploma in British Sign Language (BSL)
Sign up for this Bundle of BSL courses to master Bristish Sign Language
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You might not know that facial expressions and body language are an important part of BSL. The meaning of what you're signing can change depending on how expressive you are. Learning to sign can help make you more aware of your expressions and body language.What is the importance of learning sign language education? ›
Sign language helps to develop small motor skills because of the dexterity required for communicating with hand gestures. Those who struggle with small muscle strength and coordination can build these skills as well as learn to communicate more efficiently with another language.What are the advantages of learning BSL? ›
Why is British Sign Language important? By learning BSL, you will be able to communicate with deaf people and contribute to a society that includes deaf people. Learning BSL can help you become deaf-aware and enjoy the deaf community's vast variety.How does BSL help communication? ›
What is British Sign Language (BSL)? Sign language is a visual means of communicating using gestures, facial expression and body language. It is used mainly by people who are Deaf or to support those who have a hearing loss. In the UK, the most common sign language used is British Sign Language (BSL).What is the main purpose of sign language? ›
Sign language is manual communication commonly used by people who are deaf. Sign language is not universal; people who are deaf from different countries speak different sign languages.What is one important thing about sign language? ›
Sign language uses more than just hand gestures
As well as 'signs', British Sign Language includes facial expressions, gestures and body language to communicate. Sign language uses its own system of grammar, which involves different sentence structures to spoken English.
- Stronger bond between parents and infants. ...
- Improved spatial reasoning. ...
- Enhanced ability to interpret body language. ...
- Better reaction times and peripheral vision. ...
- Long-term cognitive benefits of learning sign language.
Advantages of first and second language skills
It furthers an ability to empathise, to see a situation from another's perspective and thus fosters tolerance towards others. We should, therefore, not only embrace it but actively encourage it. Numerous advantages of bilingualism have been discovered since the 1960s.
It actually depends on the person willing to learn the language. However, you should consider which sign language is used the most in the area you live in. If you live in the UK, you should learn BSL, and if you live in the US or in the English-speaking regions of Canada, you should go for ASL.How does BSL help children? ›
Sign language brings many benefits to all children regardless of whether they are deaf or struggling with their hearing. As well as helping children to communicate and fully express themselves, it also improves their social skills by increasing their confidence and self-esteem.
For many Deaf people, to learn English is to learn a second language. In BSL, one sign can often represent what would be an entire sentence in English. On the other hand, some English words do not have a sign equivalent.What is the benefit of ASL? ›
It enhances cognition, and creative and abstract thinking. It even has the added benefit of improving hand and eye coordination. It exercises the peripheral vision, training you to become more aware of the environment. Deaf people have sharp vision, and you can have that, too if you learn sign language.What are the benefits of learning about Deaf culture? ›
Improved self-esteem. Sense of pride in one's history. Respect and use of sign language. Emphasis on one's strengths.What are 5 reasons to learn a foreign language? ›
- Improve your career prospects. ...
- Enhance your communication skills. ...
- Increase your brain power. ...
- Enjoy travel more. ...
- Learn about other cultures. ...
- Enhance your memory and problem-solving skills. ...
- Enjoy literature, films and music in the original language.
According to the Impact of the Second Language Education, studying a second language alone will significantly improve the grammar, reading, vocabulary, and speaking skills of your first language.What are the benefits of using first language? ›
It allows learners to make suggestions, ask questions, answer questions and create and communicate new knowledge with enthusiasm. It gives learners confidence and helps to affirm their cultural identity.How long does it take to learn BSL fluently? ›
Each student has their own learning pace. We would say on average it takes 3-4 years to become fluent (BSL Level 6) based upon learning 3 hours a week.What is the best way to learn BSL? ›
The best way to learn BSL is to take a course taught by a qualified BSL tutor who is fluent in the language. Most BSL tutors are deaf and hold a relevant teaching qualification.Can you be fluent in BSL? ›
To become fluent in BSL (level six) can take several years to achieve, but offers many rewarding careers, including as a communication support worker, BSL interpreter, teacher of the Deaf, and many others. Learning BSL is not as difficult as it may seem, but does take time, effort and practice.Can you self teach BSL? ›
You can learn BSL easily with conscious effort and time but to be a professional, you have to train and practice on another level to obtain the qualifications.
70,000-87,000 of these people are Deaf and use BSL as their first language. For children who are born deaf, English is often a second or third language.How many deaf people use BSL? ›
Within England, BSL is the main language of just over 21,000 people (0.04%). This percentage is slightly higher than in Wales, where just over 900 people (0.03%) have BSL as their main language.Do all deaf people use BSL? ›
While many Deaf and Hard of Hearing people rely on BSL to communicate, many hearing people can benefit from learning it too. Check out our online deaf awareness training courses for more information on how you can make a start and read on to discover how widely signed languages are used beyond the UK.How does British sign language help children? ›
Learning Makaton and/or British Sign Language can help children with special communication and language needs to express themselves and communicate with others.Is it better to learn BSL or ASL? ›
It actually depends on the person willing to learn the language. However, you should consider which sign language is used the most in the area you live in. If you live in the UK, you should learn BSL, and if you live in the US or in the English-speaking regions of Canada, you should go for ASL.What is British sign language good? ›
Description: Make short forward movement using closed hand with thumb up (1 or 2 hands).What are the benefits of teaching sign language to children? ›
To sum up, sign language serves as a visual stimulation of speech and language development. It helps to reduce negative social behaviors, increase social interactions, and develop cognitive structures. With early introduction, sign language provides emotional, social, and academic support for language development.How does sign language help child development? ›
Benefits of learning sign language for all children. Research shows that early exposure to signing helps children develop their language and reasoning skills. While some children cry to get what they want, signing children learn how to communicate with words and simple phrases.What are the benefits of teaching sign language to infants and toddlers? ›
According to this article, “Research on baby sign language has found that teaching baby signs improved cognitive and emotional development. Far from slowing down speech, baby sign language actually increases the rate of verbal development and at the same time increases the parent/child bond.”Is it easy to learn BSL? ›
Learning BSL is not as difficult as it may seem, but does take time, effort and practice. It's a visual language, so you'll need to learn a combination of individual signs, facial expressions, body language and BSL language structure.
Within Britain the most common form of Sign Language is called British Sign Language (BSL). BSL has it's own grammatical structure and syntax, as a language it is not dependant nor is it strongly related to spoken English. BSL is the preferred language of around 145,000 people within the UK (2011).Is sign language a good skill? ›
Learning sign language is crucial for those who are deaf or hearing impaired, as well as their friends and family members. But, what many people may not realize is that sign language can be a valuable life skill for just about anyone to develop.What is British sign language for kids? ›
What is British Sign Language (BSL)? Sign language can be understood as a visual means of communicating using gestures, facial expressions and body language. Sign Language is mainly used by people who are Deaf or have hearing impairments, as well as their families and those with SEND.