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Benefits of learning British Sign Language

February 2nd, 2017 by Anna Michaelidou

As with learning any new language there are many benefits of learning British Sign Language (BSL). BSL is the main form of sign language used in the UK today.

The Royal Association for Deaf People (RAD) describes BSL:

British Sign language (or BSL) is a visual-gestural language, which makes use of three dimensional space and the movement of hands (and other parts of the body) to convey meaning. It has its own vocabulary and syntax.

British Sign Language (BSL) is officially recognised in Britain and is the second most widely used language, after English.

The second most widely used language after English! Imagine how many more people you could communicate with. According to Action on Hearing Loss there are more than 11 million people in the UK with some form of hearing loss, or one in six of the population.

They also estimate that by 2035 this figure will increase to one in five.

With so many people in the UK using sign language and an ever-growing demand for interpreters, learning BSL could benefit you immensely. Let's take a quick look at some of those benefits:

  • Give your brain a work-out - as with learning any new language you will stimulate your brain cells and increase brain functionality.
  • Improve your memory - learning a new language will improve your long and short-term memory.
  • Boost an array of skills - learning BSL and other languages will have a positive effect on your interpersonal, communication and memory skills as well as making it easier for learning any future languages.
  • Improve your confidence - learning BSL and all the different signs and gestures will almost certainly help build up your confidence.
  • Open up a career move - knowing BSL will open up many doors for professionals wishing to go into interpreting or translating.
  • New friends - meet new people that you would otherwise never have met.

And learning BSL can actually also be a lot of fun. It is a visual language that uses hand shapes, movement and facial expressions; and needs lots of practise. But as hard as it looks the first time you see it, it is not as difficult as you may think.

There are plenty of free resources on the internet for you to get an idea if learning BSL is for you. And once you feel you are ready to really delve into learning sign language there are plenty of tutors available to give you the one-to-one practise you'll need to really master the language.

Here are a few tips for learning sign language:

  • Practise - as often as possible, to ensure you memorise the signs you are taught.
  • Learn from a deaf person - what better way to learn a language than from somebody that is fluent?
  • Practise in front of a mirror - seeing how the signs actually look when you do them will ensure that you are doing them properly.
  • Ask someone to show you - especially if you are unsure of how the sign should be.

British sign language is a beneficial skill to have and can be extremely rewarding. With some dedication and patience, learning this useful language will see you reap a whole world of benefits as well as experiencing the joy of communicating with signs and gestures for the first time successfully.

Categories: advice, languages
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