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British Sign Language - Beginners

Course aims

To enable learners to understand and use simple BSL phrases, and exchange information in familiar situations, using BSL.

Course length:

22 hours (11 weeks)

Who is this course for?

This course is for complete beginners (with no prior knowledge of the language)

Entry requirements

Good literacy, numeracy and IT skills can help you learn BSL - we can give you advice &information about how you can improve these skills.

BSL competence standards include requirements for learners to have sufficient sight, manual dexterity, facial and body movement to produce and receive BSL.

Course content

You will be able to:

  • Understand and communicate in simple BSL when meeting familiar and unfamiliar people
  • Address, greet and take leave of another BSL user
  • To finger spell for names of people and places; and recognise others’ finger spelling
  • Use strategies for asking for clarification and polite conventions
  • Ask and respond to simple questions in BSL order
  • Demonstrate BSL features (BSL order, placements, referents, enumeration,    non-manual features, facial expressions, handshapes and movement, timelines)
  • Know basic numbers system for telling the time, age, money and dates
  • Sign simple affirmative and negative phrases
  • Ask for and give relevant personal information about self or others
  • Describe different ways of travelling
  • Ask for directions, giving and describing directions in familiar places or buildings
  • Commenting on the weather

Please note that the above topics and language functions may vary according to the needs of the learners. Examples of topics which may be explored include: personal information, family, hobbies and interests, work and study, holidays, calendar information, transport, food & drink, public services and the weather.

How will I be assessed?

This course has no formal qualification; however, your work in class will be assessed by your tutor in order to enhance your learning. You will be expected to take these assessments.

Will I gain any qualifications?

Please note that this is a non-accredited course. A certificate of achievement may be requested on completion of the course.

What could this course lead to?

After completing BSL Beginners, you will be able to join BSL Beginners Plus module 1*.

After completing BSL Beginners Plus module 1, you will be able to join BSL Beginners Plus module 2*

After completing BSL Plus module 2, you will be able to join BSL Improvers module 1*

*Please note that we cannot guarantee that this level will be offered as all courses are planned subject to sufficient demand.

How will I learn?

Interactive hands-on approach, using a variety of teaching methods, watching tutor demonstrations, and participating in individual, pair and group work. A variety of IT resources include internet access and watching BSL clips. We aim to match the teaching to a wide range of individual learning styles and to make your learning enjoyable, challenging and rewarding. You will be given homework to complete after each session and you will need to devote some time to practise regularly.

Some literacy, numeracy and IT skills can help you learn BSL. We can give you guidance and support to acquire these.

Your commitment as a learner

Attend every session of your course. If you need to miss a class, please let your tutor know in advance; Learners should consider their personal commitments and circumstances that may prevent attendance before enrolling on a course as missed classes will affect their learning. Missed classes cannot be taken at another time;

Have sufficient time for self-study and completion of homework; In order to maximise your learning, we strongly recommend that you spend at least 15 minutes every day (2 hours per week) on self-study, homework, language practice, etc.

Complete the course.

Complete all the assessments.

What do I need to bring with me?

You will need to bring a pen, paper, ring-binder and you may be required to purchase a course book. Access to the internet is advisable for receptive skills practice. Public Libraries and all BAES adult education centres offer internet access.

Online information - website links, Deaf clubs and suggested books

Useful websites :
A range of online information watching BSL clips, to help with receptive skills practice at home:-
http://bslhomework.org.uk
http://www.britishsignlanguage.com
http://www.bslzone.co.uk
http://www.forestbooks.com
http://www.signbsl.com/
http://www.signworldlearn.com
http://www.signedstories.com
http://www.youtube.com
http://thesignlanguagepeople.co.uk
The BAES online course directory: www.learnbaes.ac.uk

Deaf clubs:
The Deaf Cultural Centre, Ladywood Road, Birmingham, B16 8SZ
Walsall Deaf People’s Centre, 59a Lichfield Street, Walsall, WS4 2BX
Henry Fry Centre, Hertford Place Coventry, CV1 3JZ
Rycote Centre, Parker Street, Derby, DE1 3HF

Suggested books:
Thompson, Alan, (2003) Easy Way Guide to Signing, Jak Books Limited
Smith Cath, (2005) Let’s Sign Pocket Dictionary: BSL Concise Beginner’s Guide
Communication Link - A Dictionary of Signs - Beverley School for Deaf Children

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