To think that it wouldn't be too difficult or costly to teach basic sign language in schools?

(164 Posts)
Theicingontop Fri 11-Jan-13 23:40:13

Not expecting a five year old to sit and learn the entire BSL, but I think it would be nice if children were taught the basics. Maybe they do in some schools, but none I've ever heard of. Why do you think that is? Am I being unreasonable in thinking that it wouldn't be that difficult to do?

annie987 Fri 11-Jan-13 23:42:53

They do in my school (an infant school) and also a couple of schools local to us. We sign all songs and use basic sign language day to day and we don't have any deaf children in school.

yanbu, i think it would be a great thing to teach kids.

not sure how expensive it would be, but it would be worth it imo.

AgentZigzag Fri 11-Jan-13 23:44:49

I agree in principle, but it'd mean the time would have to come from something else, and with all the other things which have such importance put on them who'd decide what that'd be?

Another thing for teachers to train in as well, who'd pay for it?

Where would they find the time to train?

I taught DD1 some when she was younger, mainly because we'd watched Justin on Cbeebies and after catching on to a few she wanted to know more.

I can remember about 10 after 5/6 years so it does stick.

threesocksmorgan Fri 11-Jan-13 23:44:53

i think all children should learn Makaton

GW297 Fri 11-Jan-13 23:45:37

Lots of schools do Makaton. The children really enjoy it.

TinyDancingHoofer Fri 11-Jan-13 23:46:57

We were taught the basics in year 3. That would be about 15 years ago in a state primary. Some of my peers can still do whole conversations. I unfortunately only remember very bare basics. I think we went over it in year six. I know some schools locally with deaf children who teach it as part of the syllabus but no one at our school was deaf so we never really got to use it with anyone so most of us forgot it.

That's probably why it is not taught. If you don't have anyone to use it with then you just forget it. How you can teach a young child a foreign language but if they never get to converse with anyone then they lose the whole language. Iyswim?

Schooldidi Fri 11-Jan-13 23:47:40

My mum used to do sign language with her nursery class as there were so many differnt home languages that they all learnt the signs for basic instructions/requests very quickly even though they didn't necessarily understand the words.

I don't know many schools that do it, because the teachers don't know sign language. I know that I wouldn't particularly relish the idea of learning sign language in my own time in order to be able to teach it to my class. I wouldn't be sure I was doing it right and I'm not trained at all to teach languages (I teach Maths but this is the sort of thing I would be given to do as a form tutor). There also really isn't the time in the day to squeeze more subjects into.

NoTeaForMe Fri 11-Jan-13 23:47:46

Where does the time come from though? What lesson will you lose in order to fit it in? Where does the money and time come from for resources and training? It's not as simple as deciding it 'can't be that difficult' !

Why do you think it's important?

threesocksmorgan Fri 11-Jan-13 23:50:49

makaton should be taught to all children, in these days of inclusion it is a must
they just start at nursery and they will love it

We did really small amounts of sign language, but I've forgotten it all now.

Forgive me, because I'm ignorant, but how does it compare to something like French, in terms of how long it takes to learn?

bruffin Fri 11-Jan-13 23:56:18

My dd 15 would love to learn BSL or Makaton. She has volunteered at a special needs playgroup since she was 12 and has picked up some up from the children. She would love to do a proper course, but there doesnt seem to be anything available for schoolchildren.

threesocksmorgan Fri 11-Jan-13 23:57:10

makaton is easy, I don't know about BSL which looks harder.
I just don't see why all schools can't just do it,
the cost would be covered by more kids with sn being able to go to MS schools

Tortington Fri 11-Jan-13 23:57:21

not hard at all, however i think teachers have enough to do and it would be nice if every school child could leave school being able to read and write first.

perhaps for such activity we could look to the local education authority to invest in such inclusivity after school

oh wait they have no money

maybe the local authorities

oh wait they have no money

how about charities that work with the deaf?

no money.

AgentZigzag Fri 11-Jan-13 23:57:32

TinyD, it's a good point that if you don't know anyone who's deaf you can't practice and forget, but maybe there's value in just being confident enough if you do interact with someone who's deaf to at least have a go at a couple of signs?

Then you can recreate the scene in Four Weddings when she gets it wrong grin

I can't remember much french from school, but I know enough to at least go 'pardon?' with a french accent grin

Tortington Fri 11-Jan-13 23:57:39

maybe the MPs shouldn't be voting themselves a fucking payrise

threesocksmorgan Fri 11-Jan-13 23:58:32

bruffin that is the problem.
I did one course at my dd's school(16 miles away) but would love to do more. but never seen them offered locally

YY, that's true agent, and also, it ought to come back to you more easily later on if you've done it once.

threesocksmorgan Sat 12-Jan-13 00:00:08

Custardo but don't you think it would also be nice and good it young people learnt how to talk to kids with sn?
(hello by the way wine red of course)

CharlieBlanche Sat 12-Jan-13 00:01:13

Our class learned as part of a pilot project. I was aged 10 at the time (in the 1980s) A deaf lady came and taught us fingerspelling and BSL every week for a term. I've forgotten most of my BSL but I can still do my fingerspelling. My Dsis and I sometimes use it a secret language.

I did baby signing with my DCs and plan to teach them finger spelling when they are old enough.

Well it's difficult as an adult because you can't really write it down - I think kids find it easier though.

I used to run a Sign Language club at the secondary school I taught at (I have BSL stage 1) and I loved it. I had a group who came for over 2 years and they could remember loads. I hope they still do.

Primary school age would be ideal to start IMO. But I also think it should be a GCSE language option - perfect for the kinesthetic (is that how you spell that???) learners!

AgentZigzag Sat 12-Jan-13 00:03:06

Even if it just makes the DC aware that it is possible to talk to someone who's deaf, that's got to go along way to making them feel less isolated (not that I'm saying people who are deaf are isolated, I haven't got a clue whether they feel excluded/isolated or not by the lack of signing being taught in schools).

Tortington Sat 12-Jan-13 00:06:36

yes absolutely - when they can read and write - it shouldn't be a teachers job

BackforGood Sat 12-Jan-13 00:08:12

My dd did in Infant school - no children with HI, but an enthusiastic TA who had been learning it at nightschool. It doesn't really take that much time, as it was done to songs a lot as they learnt them.

Another school I heard of did an experiment where they taught all the children in one class to learn their 'spellings' using finger spelling, and the 'alongside class' didn't. It was something an enthusiastic young teacher wanted to try, so the person who was telling us about it, decided to see if they could try to measure in some way to see if it made any difference. They found the difference was absolutely phenomenal. Sorry, can't remember the figures now, but they were absolutely astounded at the schoool and decided from there on in that all staff would learn the alphabet in sign language and use it to help the children with spellings from then on. They thought it was something to do with the kinesthetic learning, but I don't know if any psychologists ever did any more detailed study on it. The teacher who was telling us, had used it for her Masters I think, but it was only ever the study of that one year group.

Agree that LOADS of Nurseries do Makaton, and many schools do some too - Infants particularly and then it fades out more, but I think it's a great skill to have. smile

BackforGood Sat 12-Jan-13 00:08:47

Oh! x-posted with lots blush

Tortington Sat 12-Jan-13 00:08:55

gcse option would be great - fo those kids who do use sign language anyway - y'know like those kids who can speak spanish becuase their parents are spanish - but there wern't any lessons at school

PiccadillyCervix Sat 12-Jan-13 00:09:27

yanbu and the time would come from simply teaching other subjects in basic sign language. maybe during story time etc

yy to that!

sorry x post, was agreeing with custardo!

annie987 Sat 12-Jan-13 00:13:45

But it doesn't have to replace anything - I teach it alongside everything I would teach anyway. They pick it up extraordinarily quickly. All it cost was a half day training for me and I taught the rest of the staff for free.

Theicingontop Sat 12-Jan-13 00:16:17

It is a whole language, femenistdragon, for me its harder than learning a foreign language as there's so much more to it, not just words. Facial expressions, context it all matters, I've been learning for a couple of years and I'm ok, OH is fluent and helps me loads. I've never seen a single class advertised in my area!

bruffin Sat 12-Jan-13 00:16:34

My dd would have loved it as a gcse option. She wants to be a SN teacher

AgentZigzag Sat 12-Jan-13 00:19:03

But multiplying the cost of that half days training annie, by however many teachers there are, would cost more than 'we' can afford.

And it'd have to all be formally written down somewhere, then they'd have to work out a way of measuring whether it was worth it, make sure it's being done properly etc etc etc.

Hopefully the circumstances where it happens anyway will just increase, it's good to see so many people are doing it already/are receptive to it, that would have been unthinkable a few years ago.

Thank you, theicing. It sounds fascinating. I was aware there are dialects to it, in terms of how you make a sign and the variations, but not what the experience of learning it is like. It sounds very difficult, so good I think to do some basics if possible. Because that way children won't be scared to learn it later on if there's a need.

Gomez Sat 12-Jan-13 00:22:01

No YANBU probably not that tricky. Should it happen, probably not.

musicmadness Sat 12-Jan-13 00:22:56

We did it a bit in high school, but it was a completely optional thing in a lunch hour so not that many people went. I did because my best mate had very limited hearing and wanted to learn sign language (she generally lip read) and went with her. I'm not sure I would of bothered if it wasn't for her. I'm glad I did now, it was really interesting. It would be great if it could be taught properly in schools.

manicbmc Sat 12-Jan-13 00:29:19

Most of the kids in the primary I work in have a basic knowledge (certainly from year 4 down) as we have a young lad who is deaf and has a signer who works with him. So school ran a few lunchtime sessions for the older kids too, who were interested. Some of the staff can sign and have been on courses.

I can only sign swear words and the alphabet as when I learnt (20 years ago) the man who taught me was a customer in the pub I worked in. grin

ProtegeMoi Sat 12-Jan-13 01:16:41

My school does.

I wish they would just pick BSL or Makaton though as doing both gets confusing with children forgetting what sign means what in what type etc.

I am fluent in BSL, Makaton and deaf/blind sign language. It is a very handy skill to have.

sashh Sat 12-Jan-13 04:12:40

i think all children should learn Makaton

I think they should all learn BSL. It is incredibly useful and is a propper language not a signed form of English

There is now a GCSE BSL, that would be great for the language element of the ebac for dyslexic and deaf students.

It's also a great introduction to MFL as you don't feel stupid with odd sounds comming out of your mouth and you learn that English grammer isn't the only one.


Where are you? Most deaf clubs run BSL courses as do colleges and being school age does not stop you doing an evening class.

There is a yahoo group called 'Deaf-UK', and some people on there are discussing using Skype for practice.

This is ASL, but I recomend Keith Wann

I did bsl levels one and two and I dont massively agree with you tbh OP.

I haven't needed to use it and have forgotten huge majority of it. It was fascinating to learn, glad I did but not really transferable skill unless you use it often enough. Unlike the previous poster I haven't found it useful in the slightest.

I dont think yabu, but can think of things that are more important to be taught.

jussi Sat 12-Jan-13 04:49:19

It's not just deaf children who use sign,also those with speech disorders.

sashh Sat 12-Jan-13 05:10:56

And those with deaf parents / family

PeerieMootsMum Sat 12-Jan-13 05:25:04

My school was very inclusive of all SN children regardless of ability and as part of this we all grew up using basic sign language as the norm. Probably this was because of resources as it was a very small school but I think this was v beneficial for everyone as it never occured to us there was anything 'different' about these kids they were just accepted as they were.

Cut to 30 blush years later and I can still do some basic signs and the alphabet so yanbu - it's a great skill to have.

My dds go to an international school in singapore with a number of sn children. All the songs learned in the infant school are accompanied with sign language actions. I don't think there are any deaf children in the school any more (There's a separate school for hearing impaired children) but its lovely to see them sing chirstmas songs or happy birthday or nursery rhymes with sign language .... Even better when they sing in mandarin with sign language.

Most of the little ones just think they are doing actions but the older kids in the infant school (year 1,2) know that it's sign language.

hazeyjane Sat 12-Jan-13 06:58:57

BSL is different to Makaton, it would be great if there could be access to learn either, but the problem would be the funding. Ds is going to a ms preschool in April, he is completely non verbal, and is learning makaton. There will be at least one other little boy with speech delay starting at the same time. One of the keyworkers asked for funding to be sent on a Makaton course, but her request was denied. Fortunately, because she is amazing, she paid to do the course herself, and is now able to pass on the signs she knows to the other members of staff.

I have been amazed at how quickly our dds (5 and 6) have picked up a lot of makaton, I really think it would be an amazing thing to use more of it at schools in the course of the day, and have it offered as an option or a club.

x2boys Sat 12-Jan-13 07:30:58

what would they teach though makaton if a remember correctly is a form of sign language that is used a lot with children with autism learning ,disabillities etc i rember a few bits when from when i nursed a young boy who was severly autistic on a psychiatric intensive care unit[completley innapropriate placement but thats another story!]and BSL is a language in its own right so it would be like teaching any language you would need sombody who was fluent? Very good idea though i would be happy for my boys to learn it.

x2boys Sat 12-Jan-13 07:38:07

hazeyjane is your son being taught to speak alomg side signing i ask because my youngest boy has speech delay and will be seeing a speech therapist at the end of this month he is three in may so will start nursery in september whilst i,m happy for him to be taught makaton i obviously want him to speak properly?

Hulababy Sat 12-Jan-13 07:45:15

I work in an infant school and we use simple makaton signing. We sign to songs, to say good morning, and as part of our Pie Corbett stories in literacy. Plus other times and more so if a child in the class has sld. We hsve visual time tables in each class too.
Our lea does basic courses reasonably cheap and people also learn from one another.

Hulababy Sat 12-Jan-13 07:46:13

Afaik makaton and speech go together. The words should always be said whilst using it.

moogy1a Sat 12-Jan-13 07:57:56

I was having a conversation with DH about this a couple of days ago when I was saying I have never come across anyone I have direct dealings with who is deaf or uses sign language. neither had he.We both work in education ( he is in a very large school which has a number of kids with sn, but none that sign).
It would be a lot of money and time taken up for very limited use. I'm sure it's all very lovely to learn, but round here it's very much a middle class thing to do which has no real life relevance . I view it in the same way as learning mandarin ( anyone really know anyone who's needed to use that in real life? )

roughtyping Sat 12-Jan-13 08:11:26

I've taught my class the BSL alphabet as part of their active spelling activities. They love it and have gone off and looked more up on the Internet, their parents have shown them more wee bits etc.

meditrina Sat 12-Jan-13 08:14:51

One of my DCs did some BSL at school.

The 'cost' element would arise from the time taken to train teachers (and I remember mrz's comments about teacher training courses giving only a couple of days on how to teach children to read, which shows how difficult it would be to add there; and I've no idea how you'd cover enough already qualified teachers). Plus of course the opportunity cost of something being taken out of current timetables. How long per week would be needed? And what would be top of your list of things which could be disposed of?

roughtyping Sat 12-Jan-13 08:15:08

We have 2 severely hearing impaired children at our school, not why I've taught my class though.

SilveryMoon Sat 12-Jan-13 08:23:51

I'm quite good at makaton because I use it at the SEN school I work at.
My ds's attend a mainstream school and learnt/learning makaton in the nursery and reception.
When ds1 was in the nursery, one of the TA's (who's still in the nursery now with ds2) was specialising in makaton, so I took her in a copy of some signs I had on paper.
Both ds's really enjoyed it and it means we can communicate in loud busy surroudings, they understand when we are at a party when I sign that I'm going to the toilet or (most popular) that it's time for cake.
I think anything that promotes inclusion for people who have any kind of barriers to overcome is well worth it, but where's the time? If it was done as a matter of course, that teachers just used it, dc's would catch on in no time.

sashh Sat 12-Jan-13 08:30:14

* I'm sure it's all very lovely to learn, but round here it's very much a middle class thing to do which has no real life relevance . I view it in the same way as learning mandarin ( anyone really know anyone who's needed to use that in real life? ) *

1 in 7 have a hearing impairment. Many elderrly people are very lonely because they have lost some / all of their hearing.

Knowing some basic signs would make life less lonely.

meditrina Sat 12-Jan-13 08:34:34

If you live in Asia, knowledge of Mandarin is very useful, and I know lots of (non-Chinese) people who use it. The world doesn't stop at The Channel, and Mandarin is just as useful as any other language.

Perhaps the timetabling issue might be resolved by adding it as an approved MFL?

Loquace Sat 12-Jan-13 08:38:40

What Custardo said

The only real way that could work in practice would be if volunteers offered after school clubs to teach it to any child who was enthusiastic or had parents who felt their kid would enjoy it AND had time to spare over and above all their homework/activities/downtime/family time etc.

My dc learn Makaton, and love it. They do it alongside their everyday life, so at the school gate and in the morning they sign 'goodmorning Mrs X', when they choose their lunch options they sign. In choir they learn signs as well as the words. It is led by one of the TAs, who helps to disseminate it. Sometimes the children will teach the teachers a sign they have learnt too. The whole of the primary school sign. They have a signer of the week who gets a reward in assembly. It is fairly established and although each class has some children with SN all children are expected to use it.

Dh has had to learn BSL for his work, and there are lots of overlapping signs, but some which are significantly different! I think that one problem with teaching BSL would be that the sentence structure is different, and that every word is signed, whereas in Makaton you talk in standard English, adding in signs for some words. You would need separate lessons for BSL whereas Makaton can be integrated into normal lessons.

If your school is interested then have a look at it is a good way to start Makaton, might be too late for this year, as their school has just started learning the songs, and the national event is on 6 Feb.

The evidence is that it enhances language and commuunication, and is so easy to add into the school day.

DS1 has learned Makaton throughout nursery (from 11m), preschool and now school. At school it is a volunteer who comes in to teach it - no "cost" except finding time.

It is very useful in supporting and including a handful of children with SEN, specifically spoken language delay, who sign well.

I was at a primary school with a semi-integrated Deaf Unit, and we all learned a reasonable quantity of BSL to.communicate with our friends. But by the end of my first year at my next school I had forgotten it all.

I think fingerspelling is a very useful skill for anyone in a service industry tbh and particularly for anyone in the NHS. The kinaesthetic spelling support is fascinating - hope more research is done.

Punkatheart Sat 12-Jan-13 08:44:42

I do a little bit of work for a local deaf charity and they are always trying to apply for grants etc.

It is a great skill and could be rolled out into schools, money permitting.

moogy1a Sat 12-Jan-13 08:45:23

Well, obviously if you live in Asia then Mandarin is useful, but I would hazard a guess that 99% of us using this site don't and 100% of the children and adults I come across and that my DH teaches definitely don't!! That's like saying that if you live in Lithuania, then Lithuanian would be useful so should be taught in British schools

Punkatheart Sat 12-Jan-13 08:51:40

Mandarin is extremely useful and a language that will be used a lot in the future. A great deal of business is now conducted with Asian a number of business people/bankers are indeed learning Mandarin.

Communication is so very important. Going back to the deaf community - I had no idea, before I worked alongside people with impaired hearing, how very isolated so many feel. There is an odd reaction to them - blind people are treated with sympathy and kindness, whereas people with hearing loss are treated as if they are 'daft' or 'annoying.' It's a shocker - but I have learnt a lot from a deaf friend. Teaching children when they are young is spot on. Hopefully they then grow up as tolerant adults..not ones who shout and laugh and someone for whom the world is largely silent and potentially hostile.

But the difference is with Mandarin, that most Mandarin speakers whom you come across will have chosen to come to the UK (or wherever you live) and so might have learnt some English. A deaf person or a person with SN hasn't chosen to live in a country where no one can speak in a language that they can't understand, they were just born into that situation.

CaseyShraeger Sat 12-Jan-13 08:53:01

The NDCS would like to see fingerspelling taught in schools -- it's something you do tend to remember once you've learned it and while it's not ideal for communicating with deaf people it does provide an option. If there is also a benefit to children in their regular learning from using fingerspelling then that would seem a no-brainer (it's very quick to learn).

There's a pretty wide crossover in vocabulary between Makaton and BSL, at least with basic everyday words (although also some glaring disconnects, e.g. "happy" in Makaton looks rather similar to the BSL for... umm... something that might very well make you extremely happy but isn't normally discussed in front of children) but BSL has its own complex structure and grammar and really ought to be taught by a Deaf instructor (or if that's not possible by someone highly qualified and experienced). Having Makaton as a regular part of nursery life seems like a good idea and more achievable than teaching all children BSL at school. I would like to see BSL more widely available as a GCSE modern language option, though.

Sorry can understand

moogy1a Sat 12-Jan-13 09:05:35

Hopefully they then grow up as tolerant adults..not ones who shout and laugh I never learnt to sign and wouldn't deal with a hearing impaired person in this manner!! I think tossers will be tossers whether they've been taught to sign or not.

Yes, but moogy1a you still think that it is fine for someone to live in a society where most people can't understand them and they can't understand most people. My dc know how easy it is for them to learn Makaton, so wouldn't see why people should continue to be isolated.

Punkatheart Sat 12-Jan-13 09:17:23

I understand your point, moogy - but it is all about it becoming mainstream, part of society rather than people on the outskirts, struggling to understand and be understood.

Less tossers. Indeed. But sometimes tosser radar can start earlier...

Theicingontop Sat 12-Jan-13 09:27:13

A deaf person or a person with SN hasn't chosen to live in a country where no one can speak in a language that they can't understand, they were just born into that situation.

Spot on.

I agree with those who point out that perhaps it wouldn't be very useful in day-to-day life for some children, but I do think it would help them become more aware. Not implying that children who don't know any sl are intolerant, but I think it would be lovely for them if they did meet a deaf person, to be able to at least say "hello, nice to meet you" and not be too intimidated to give the basic level of politeness they'd give anyone.

I've only met a few deaf people outside of OH's family, but it has come in useful. Once was on a train, where a man was travelling to London alone and had no-one to talk to. Had a nice (albeit slightly rusty on my part) conversation. If I hadn't known any sl we'd have nodded hello and sat in silence for an hour and a half <shrugs>

MrsMelons Sat 12-Jan-13 09:30:07

They do at both my DCs (community) preschool and DS1s infant school. They do Makaton at the pre-school as they are ECAT accreddited and have lots of children with S&L difficulties there.

DS1s class teacher just happens to know BSL so does a lot of signing with them.

I would love them to have it as part of the curriculum TBH. Would prefer it to them learning French TBH.

Loquace Sat 12-Jan-13 09:39:15

but I do think it would help them become more aware.

I have no argument with that.

But where do you suggest cuts are made to free up the time and money within the school budget and timetable in order to incorperate a new subject, train staff ? Which subjects should lose time to make room for this ?

My son goes to a non traditional school with less "over stuffing of programme" than a typical school, but I can't see what can be cut without casuing a shortfall in his learning. And I don't want his day extended. He has subjects over and above the school timetable that we as parents need to prioritise due to our circumstances. He has a busy (and IMO valuable) social life with sports and hobbies and downtime.

I have already turned down a request from him to learn something else this year, cos for the life of me I don't see where I can shoehorn it in unless he gives something else up, which he doesn't want to do.

Multiply me by a few hundred, and you can see why it would be a bit of a nightmare for schools to sell the concept to the parents, let alone find the time, money and trained staff to make a good go of it and not fall into the trap of lip service.

Oh, and the reason that there aren't any children who sign in mainstream secondary schools is that deaf children are usually sent to boarding schools so that they can be with other people who sign. Children in mainstream schools are often marginalised from their peers at best. If more people signed then they would be less isolated in their home communities. Sometimes even their own parents can't be bothered to learn to sign, imagine never talking to your own child. At least if any of the children in my dc's school had a deaf child they would (having used signs for 7+ years) have some rudimentary basis for communicating with their child.

Loquace Sat 12-Jan-13 09:46:03

Would prefer it to them learning French TBH.

I couldn't give a toss about French, it's not on our programme. But I'd be seriously put out if Spanish were cut from my son's school to make room for sign language.

I don't think I'm the only parent who places importance on modern languages.

hazeyjane Sat 12-Jan-13 09:46:43

x2boys ds has had SALT since he was 10 months old, because of swallowing issues and poor oro motor skills, and we have been learning Makaton since then (not formally, but using books, dvds and just picking it up from SN nursery). We always say the word as we sign, and I help ds to do the sign using hand over hand, he has just starting signing a bit spontaneously to us (he is 2.6). I think my heart would break in 2 if he started to speak, but he has a probable diagnosis of a rare genetic disorder, and many of the children with this disorder remain non-verbal, or have very limited expressive language. Ds is at the level of a 6-8 month old with speech, no words, limited babble (no bababa, dadada) his main noise is - 'uh', and he is often silent. Sometimes he points to his mouth and moves it as if to talk, but he doesn't seem to be able to control the way his tongue moves very well, and so even if his verbalisation improves, I think it would be very difficult to understand what he says. However, he has fairly good understanding, and communicates a lot through his eyes and his body language, and to me it seems the most important thing is not to teach him to speak, but to communicate, and makaton signing is a very good way of doing that, obviously the more people around him that can understand the signs, the less frustrating the world will be for ds.

I think the thing about Makaton that makes it such a perfect thing to introduce into the early years curriculum, is that it is so simple for children to learn, it is whole word signs, that are not complex, and are universal. It is useful for all children with a speech delay or social communication problem, and is something that can be taught, simply through use - so songs being sung in assembly, with the signs included, simple signs being stuck up around the classroom.

i think it is wonderful that a programme like Something Special, has become so mainstream and loved by all children, because it helps children to realise that children with disabilities and additional needs are just like them, and with children with sn being part of mainstream education, I think it is really important that we include the language that is so helpful for communication in the curriculum.

sameoldlovebunny Sat 12-Jan-13 09:48:34

hmm. worked in a school with a hearing impaired unit some years ago. we weren't allowed to use sign - totally not politically correct. the mainstream community uses the spoken word so devices to boost hearing and learning to lip read and to speak were considered important. sign was a distraction. a teacher who knew sign and taught some was sanctioned.

But it doesn't take any more time out of their school day, presumably their teacher says 'good morning everyone' at the begining of the day, in my dc's school they just happen to sign as well as speak. The dc learn it by seeing it every day and using it everyday. In phonics, when they learn the sound 'a' then they sign it too. I can see that it would be harder to introduce at secondary level, but at primary it is fairly straightforward once the teachers know some, they are helped by the TAs who have had training.

pictish Sat 12-Jan-13 09:54:01

Mmm nah - I think Spanish would be a lot more useful than sign language for the majority I'm afraid.

MrsMelons Sat 12-Jan-13 09:55:28

I agree with Spanish pictish definitely. I would love the DCs to learn Spanish but it seems most schools still insist on French.

MrsMelons Sat 12-Jan-13 09:57:16

Loquace Absolutely - to me I don't feel that learning French is the most useful language for my DCs to learn so would be just as happy with BSL but would love them to learn Spanish.

MummytoMog Sat 12-Jan-13 09:58:02

My DD is at nursery ina primary school with a unit for hearing impaired children - they all learn makaton and BSL in the mainstream section as well.

hazeyjane Sat 12-Jan-13 09:58:27

Children with speech delay, social communication disorders and other disabilites that are helped by Makaton use, are our children, and the children of our friends, they go to mainstream schools as well as special schools.

The arguments about Spanish and mandarin, well learning those languages may be more helpful wrt a career, but imo, education should also be about society and the rsponsibilty we all have in that society to accepting of others. Learning a simple language (I am talking Makaton as opposed to BSL), and including it in the school day, teaches so much more than just a few simple hand gestures.

It's a good idea.
However, it's not as simple as 'teach alongside other things'
As many have said, the biggest issue is time (ie money) to train staff so they have the confidence to deliver it. And there are different priorities in schools, the pot of money has to stretch to whatever is needed in a particular school. So if there are children who would benefit, the pot would have to stretch. If not, then the money would go on something else.

TheNebulousBoojum Sat 12-Jan-13 10:02:20

Makaton I can see being helpful for a number of reasons.
I know a large number of elderly, hearing-impaired people who are indeed often lonely, isolated and have difficulties in communicating. Not one of them can sign.
Are you proposing signing to be taught as a second language so that when we do become hearing impaired we can still communicate?

Sarahplane Sat 12-Jan-13 10:03:55

I think it's a great idea.

As someone who is hearing impaired, sign language could be useful to me (I never learned any). But I do well enough in life than many people have never realised.

Meanwhile, I agree it is a good topic for schools, but like other parents, my DCs time is already full, and I don't want to start encroaching on the limited downtime they have.

As for MFL, signing might be good as an alternative in secondary instead of French. DD is currently in yr 8 and does both French and German, but she'd like to drop German in favour of Spanish. She feels it's more relevant and more widely spoken.

Ha. DD is cross with me, it's French she wants to drop, not German.

I can see Makaton could be taught in many lessons, alongside other stuff, but there will be a cost to the school budget somewhere, even just to cover a basic course for a teacher. And having been a school governor, I had sight of the budget on the finance committee and there is no way we could have stretched the budget.

Money is always going to be an issue.

Meglet Sat 12-Jan-13 10:33:33

One of my friends taught me how to sign the alphabet in the playground at junior school. Never forgotten it.

The DC's sign at nursery.

Cherriesarelovely Sat 12-Jan-13 10:34:00

We do this and it doesn't take an extra lesson, it is something we do as we go along, eg signing as we talk so the children get the basics such as home, school, thanks, love, the fruit names etc. We also sign many songs. The children pick it up in no time. It is brilliant.

Yes, clearly all schools have different budget restraints, our school has made it cheaper by training TAs, so that their time to go and train is cheaper and they are more easily replaced for an afternoon. My argument about teaching alongside is in relation to the feeling that it would distract from time learning other things. To the children it is not an added lesson, but something which is done simultaneously. They do also do French, but that is generally done as a separate lesson, rather than integrated with numeracy, phonics, geography etc. They sometimes do the register + lunch menu in French, but generally it would take twice as long, as they would say. 'good morning' then 'bonjour', whereas to teach in sign they do it simultaneously. I can see the financial reasons, but not the 'Jonny's time is too precious to spend learning signs when he can talk already.'

geogteach Sat 12-Jan-13 10:54:28

I can see there may be an argument for teaching some marathon but not sure about BSL.
My ds1 is deaf , he doesn't sign and gets very upset that people assume he can't communicate orally because of his disability. As more and more deaf people have implants the number using sign is decreasing. I know many families who learnt sign when there deaf kids were infants but as they grow older and develop their oral skills they no longer want to sign (this is obviously not true for ALL). As a result while most schools have no deaf kids many of those who do have one or two have none who sign.

I'm a Guider and am partially deaf. I taught one of my previous units the fingerspelling alphabet. I did the phonetic alphabet at the same time and it helped them to remember. If they couldn't remember the sign, they could generally remember the word and from that they usually figured out the sign. It worked the other way too so I can believe that it would help children to learn spellings.

threesocksmorgan Sat 12-Jan-13 11:08:06

money shouldn't be an issue. as it will lead to more inclusion.
so will save money in the long run.

Tanith Sat 12-Jan-13 11:10:52

I'm a childminder and we do Makaton with the kids.
My DD is at preschool and they say she signs almost as much as she talks - and she talks a lot smile
She's able to communicate with a child who has delayed speech and translate for the staff.

It's easy: we just sign as we talk and, especially with singing nursery rhymes and songs.

I also know some BSL (forgotten lots of it). It is more complicated but I think Makaton is a good basis. It's made me very careful to make signs clearly - Twinkle twinkle little star for example! wink

3birthdaybunnies more and more of the deaf boarding schools are closing and so deaf children are now being integrated into mainstream education now.

A lot of posters have suggested that school teachers would need to be sent on training courses so they could learn enough BSL to teach classes. BSL is a complete language on its own right and therefore if it is being taught seriously sessions would need to be delivered by a qualified teacher - and I have never met a BSL teacher who wasn't deaf so it would usually be a question of bringing someone in. I don't mean to be arsey but please be aware that many people have fought long and hard to have BSL legally recognised as a language and the idea that you can teach it after half a day's training kind of compounds the idea that it is something simple. I understand a bit of finger spelling and a few signs can be taught as a fun and useful activity but really learning BSL means learning a whole grammatical and structured language and that could only be taught by a fluent user and would require the same level of dedication and practise that any foreign language needs to become skilled.

Great post Gail.

Theicingontop Sat 12-Jan-13 11:27:27

Gail, that's why I think small phrases and at the very least finger spelling would be great in schools. Obviously if you lack the need you're not going to teach your child an entire language on the off-chance they may need it some day. Just like any language, you use it or lose it.

But a small effort wouldn't cost a lot for the schools, especially finger-spelling, there are free resources available from the internet that are excellent and would suit a classroom. Though from what I'm hearing on here a lot of schools DO teach basic signs, so that's great. Clearly the schools in my area aren't inclined.

CaseyShraeger Sat 12-Jan-13 11:28:19

I agree, Gail; it's worth noting, though, that that's precisely what some primary schools seem to be doing with modern language teaching -- expecting a teacher who isn't a native speaker and has no fluency in the language to teach it to children.

I get what you're saying theicing but either attending a brief training session or using resources on the Internet doesn't mean that what people are learning and then teaching is accurate. It's not easy when a hearing person starts to learn a signed language as muscle memory generally isn't practised to retain such detailed actions and its easy to misremember or just do it wrong. Maybe I'm reading too much not this as it's a subject that's important to me though. I do see the benefit in using it in schools but if what CaseySchrager says is the case, that teachers with only a minimal level of skill are teaching languages (albeit at a basic level), why not spend the money spent on training them to get a proper fluent language user to come in and run sessions?

TheNebulousBoojum Sat 12-Jan-13 11:41:26

'why not spend the money spent on training them to get a proper fluent language user to come in and run sessions?'

That's what we did, our MFL sessions are run by a native speaker who is a qualified teacher. Way better all round, for the children and for staff who don't want to be teaching with a book in one hand and an internet connection as support.

TheNebulousBoojum sounds great and also can have the added benefit of the leathers meeting a native user of that language, which can be a powerful learning experience in its own right.

TheNebulousBoojum Sat 12-Jan-13 11:52:57

I do agree with you Gail.
I've just seen so much tokenistic, badly-done under-resourced initiatives get shoved into primary over the years that I have little patience with it now.
The children are entitled to a quality, sustained experience taught by people that truly know what they are doing and have the funding, time and skills to do it properly.
Not just a quick bash that starts with 'What a good idea' and then gets dumped on staff to continue without support for the next decade or too. With ever-rising complains about how badly it's being done.
So that's why I said yes to Makaton, but I wouldn't be happy at teaching BSL.

TheNebulousBoojum Sat 12-Jan-13 11:54:35

Several of our support staff and MDS are Native speakers of Spanish, and the children practise on them. smile Works well.

sashh Sat 12-Jan-13 11:59:20

I don't think I'm the only parent who places importance on modern languages.

Just not indigenous languages of the British Isles?

My ds1 is deaf , he doesn't sign and gets very upset that people assume he can't communicate orally because of his disability.

I actually find it frustrating with some (and I don't know you, or your son, so this is something from my experience of talking to some deaf adults) deaf people can't sign.

I had a conversation at deaf club that went like this

X - something unitelligable
Me - sorry? I didn't get that
X-something unintelligable but I cought the words 'didn't know you'
Me didn't know what?
X - with a very strong deaf voice - if you didn't know I was deaf you would think I was hearing because I speak well.
Me - er........ ok

stargirl1701 Sat 12-Jan-13 12:01:24

We teach basic Makaton to all children in my school. There are a number of pupils who use it so it is essential for communication. Tbh, the children pick it up far quicker than the adults.

Leathers, not leathers in my previous post! Yes, they get proper practise with a native speaker and can also hear about their experiences in their home country and other cultural things - priceless. I think this is particularly important with Deaf teachers as it gives a positive role model of a Deaf person in a professional settings which helps to undo any negative stereotypes of Deaf people not being able to work etc

Learners! Learners! Argh..... grin

Christmasberry Sat 12-Jan-13 12:15:48

Why do marathon? Bsl is a recognised language far better to do that, they have lunch time club at my dd school? My dd is deaf and uses sign so lots of her friends are picking it up.

Christmasberry Sat 12-Jan-13 12:16:18

Makaton... Damn autocorrect

TheNebulousBoojum Sat 12-Jan-13 12:34:26

Makaton as a second language within a school, or a nation would enable more people to communicate with a wider range of individuals with SN, from ASDs to Downs to Deaf and if embedded widely would assist cross-cultural communication with non-English speakers.
Easier and faster to learn for those who have no direct links to the Deaf community and thus less motivation to learn a completely new and complex language.

The trouble is that many BSL users are even more marginalised, and some people can't have implants. My dh visits deaf schools on a weekly basis and encounters many young people who are not able to communicate effectively aurally. Plus I have worked with many non-verbal people with SN who used Makaton. I do think that it would not be cost effective to teach every child BSL, however Makaton teaches many signs which are recognisable in BSL, with a few glaring exceptions, it is also widely used with babies and people with SN, so anyone working in a care situation could use their knowledge. I didn't say that the TAs just have a half day training session, it is ongoing, but it is they who lead it in the school. BSL would require native speakers, separate lessons as the grammar is different and more intensive training.

Whilst I am under no illusions that my dc could communicate with my dh's collegues fluently, they can use enough signs to augment their speech to aid understanding. If I met the proverbial Manderin speaker and they said 'me name x is' I might not be able to discuss philosophy with them, but there would be enough basis to communicate, that is why I think Makaton is useful.

Our school teaches it in addition to their attempts to teach French, so it is not exclusive, but that would be better if there were native speakers.

beamme Sat 12-Jan-13 13:32:44

My dd is profoundly deaf and implanted, attending a mainstream primary school. Her main form of communication is Sign Supported English, which uses BSL signs to re-enforce spoken language. She has a 1:1 support worker who is qualified in BSL. Her 1:1 has worked hard within the school and SSE has become part of everyday life within the class. There are no separate lessons and no set teaching, the children pick it up signs naturally as they see it everyday.
The school use the Talk for Writing programme and the head teacher has worked with dd's 1:1 to incorporate the signs into the programme. They are also starting a signing club at lunch and after school for children.
The level of support and inclusion we have received is fantastic and I hope it continues into secondary school. I don't think it would take copious amounts of time or money, just a great deal of enthusiasm, a dedicated member of staff and support from the school.

ReallyTired Sat 12-Jan-13 13:39:51

BSL is really hard to learn. I failed BSL level 1 sad and for not for lack of trying.

If a teacher is going to teach BSL then they need to be at least BSL level 2. (roughly GCSE standard) They aren't going to learn much BSL in half a day. There is a lot more to BSL than a bit of finger spelling. I did use my BSL, only because I worked in a special school with Deaf children. It has to be remember that a lot of profoundly deaf people do not use BSL. Many people with profoundly deaf children use an aural approach. With the advent of cochelar implants fewer Deaf children are attending BSL medium schools.

I would rather children study a modern language. Most teachers have a GCSE in a modern language. There is no point in being taught BSL by someone who has no clue.

My son did a lunch time club for two years. The lady who taught him had BSL had level 2. My son has used his BSL once or twice. However I suspect he has forgotten it all.

Fakebook Sat 12-Jan-13 13:51:37

My dd knew basic sign language that she learnt in nursery aged about 1-3. She was very good at it too, but has steadily forgotten everything. We use simple signs like "thank you" and "milk" and "biscuit" with DS now. Yanbu, they should incorporate sign language when talking to children for words they use often.

You've made some good points Reallytired but what you said about teachers needing at least Level 2 takes me back to the points I made in my earlier posts. A GCSE level qualification is not appropriate for teaching - level 2 does not provide anyone with sufficient skill to teach BSL. It's great for giving people the skills to converse in BSL to a certain point but thats as far as it goes. I still feel that the best way is a qualified Deaf teacher for all the reasons I've already explained. I know that it's not practical to have a fluent BSL user in every school all the time but there is a place for them to be part of the use of BSL in school life. However, I know I am living in the 'should' world rather than the real world!

hazeyjane Sat 12-Jan-13 14:32:34

christmasberry I think introducing basic Makaton would be a fairly straightforward way of helping the many children with speech and language/communication problems in mainstream education. I think it would also help children be more aware of disability within society, in a positive way. I think introducing BSL as an option for older children would be great, but as others have pointed out, it is a much more complicated language to learn.

Punkatheart Sat 12-Jan-13 15:03:36

But what a wonderful thing that this is BEING DISCUSSED.

Now to get out there and do some appropriate campaigning.

I am going to speak to the people I work for at the deaf charity - to see if this is something they can raise awareness about. My mother is also partially deaf - through typhoid fever as a child. It affected her whole life and the psychology of how she lived - because she felt so isolated.

Loquace Sat 12-Jan-13 16:04:50

Just not indigenous languages of the British Isles?

My son will have to be proficent in at least three to four modern languages if he wants to get a decent paid job,when he is an adult, where we currently live.

Four languages is his bet bet for maximising his opportunities if he wants to live/studywork elsewhere.

We (as in my family) can't afford to prioritise the indigenous languages of the British Isles at the expence of modern laguages, given the heavey language load expectations of the wider employment market.

If people think that English is enough and Britain will provide all the opportunities they think their kids will ever want or need then fair enough, they can afford to treat MFL like optional extras and choose something else.

However! If I could go back in time to my son's primary age, I'd happily swop my son's art and/or music lessons for sign language. Actually you can have both, source of constant grumpiness and tears those two were, been much better since he dropped them and he got to learn guitar with his own teacher.

Oh yeah, and RE, I'd swop that for sign language (if the school could afford the training and any required resources obviously)

But that is the problem really, different parents will see different subjects as priorities and would throw the mother of all hissy fits if the subjects I don't give a toss about were being swopped out in favour of something that they weren't opposed to...right until it threatened something they deemed invaluable for their child.

OddBoots Sat 12-Jan-13 16:16:52

I think it would be beneficial to all children to learn some signing and to learn through signing. Around here a lot of schools are trialling some signing programmes which have shown some fab results in both communication and maths link to results.

ReallyTired Sat 12-Jan-13 16:27:34

The school I used to work at used to teach BSL to autistic children. (They had someone with a proper CADEP qualification and the children were prepared for level 1) It really helped the children with their communication in English. They learnt to make eye contact and understand people's expressions.

I feel that BSL should be available as a modern language at secondary level. It really does need to be taught by a qualified teacher. BSL is far more than Mr Tumble on something special. It has its own grammar and culture as much as French.

I feel that BSL needs to be made more of a part of British life. I feel that BSL should be available as an option to secondary school children. However it needs to be taught by someone qualified.

Spinkle Sat 12-Jan-13 17:08:16

My school does Makaton. It was not cheap to implement and took the entire year's professional development budget.

We teach to the children as an augmented communication aid. We have very poor speech and language, due to a needy catchment.

Andro Sat 12-Jan-13 17:23:55

I learned BSL growing up, it was the product of having a deaf friend mixed with my somewhat stubborn personality...I wasn't going to let the fact that she couldn't hear me, stop us being friends (4yo logic for you right there!) so she showed me the signs with her mum's help.

Learning it was great for my co-ordination, but I'm not sure about it being part of the main curriculum - too many other basics that are too important to replace. As part of an after school club though...that would be a really fun thing to have as an option.

hazeyjane Sat 12-Jan-13 17:42:33

Mr Tumble is not BSL, Mr Tumble is Makaton.

I don't think any subjects should be replaced, it should be used throughout the school day (not constantly), and in this way, children would pick it up. I think all children would benefit.

DamnBamboo Sat 12-Jan-13 17:44:38

Is there clear evidence that this type skill is generally for the benefit of all children?

I'm just wondering how my own children would actually benefit from this.

Pixel Sat 12-Jan-13 17:47:08

BSL is far more than Mr Tumble on something special. It has its own grammar and culture as much as French.

That's why I think Makaton is better and more inclusive in this context. Lots of children (and adults, they do grow up don't forget!) with learning difficulties already have problems with language and need the simplified version. Also, as people have already pointed out, it would be wonderful to think that if we become impaired in later life there would be a simple language to communicate at least our basic needs, which could be understood by most people. If someone has been in an accident or had a stroke then BSL (with grammar and all) might be too much for them.

Lots of people here have asked the question about how will schools afford it? What will they drop in order to fund it? etc etc. I don't think it should be the responsibility of the schools to train staff, I think it should be a part of basic teacher training and be required for qualification to teach. But that's just me, infuriated by the non-existant training on any form of SN that my recently qualified teacher friend got, so I might be a little over-sensitive.

TroublesomeEx Sat 12-Jan-13 17:54:55

I ran a small sign language group for KS1 children but I only have level 1.

It was great. We role played with shops and cafes, pet shops and drs.

We all had quite simple shopping lists, menus and ailments. But it was fun nevertheless!

We also signed good morning and afternoon in my class, most of the children were able to recognise when their name was being signed for the register (it was a small class and we all had sign names) and follow simple instructions and answer simple questions (e.g. Would you like milk? yes please/no thank you).

MuddlingMackem Sat 12-Jan-13 18:01:17

Posting without reading the thread, and then will go back and read, but it occurred to me recently that BSL ought to be a joint official language of the country with English and everybody ought to be taught it from birth.

When you think of how many people lose their hearing in old age, if they - and the sales assistants, HCPs, family members, etc with whom they will be interacting - could already sign, wouldn't life be so much easier. smile

Makaton isn't a language & isn't used by people who are deaf. It sign to support spoken language (in BSL for example the word order is different).

But I think BSL would be a fab GCSE option, (or perhaps some opportunity to study for the qualifications already available for BSL).

Having said that my knowledge of Makaton has helped me communicate with a deaf friend who signs.

Piemother Sat 12-Jan-13 18:09:31


TheNebulousBoojum Sat 12-Jan-13 18:09:37

'everybody ought to be taught it from birth.'

So, a parental responsibility? All people to learn both languages?
Sounds like a plan to me, but how many parents would say that they are far too busy to learn it themselves or to teach their children?
It would be dumped on schools in the same way that other areas that used to be expected of parents are.
Boarding school from birth is the only way to go, then the children would be guaranteed to have breakfast, an all-round education including exercise, citizenship and BSL lessons and a reasonable bed time. Easier all round really/

TheNebulousBoojum Sat 12-Jan-13 18:12:34

Makaton isn't a language, but it is effective communication that would apply to a far wider audience than just the hearing-impaired. I learned it because of a non-verbal child with Downs I had in class, and I found several other uses for it, including teaching the class the basics to communicate without a common language.

ReallyTired Sat 12-Jan-13 18:13:20

Makaton and BSL serve two different purposes. BSL is a full blooded language with jokes, poetry, its own (next to impossible) grammar and culture. Makaton is designed to facilite communication with people who have severe learning difficulties. Makaton takes most of its signs from BSL.

I think you have to think what you hope to achieve by including BSL in the national curriculum. Personally I would like to see it as an option at GCSE level and taught properly. I think that many mumsnetters would have a real shock at quite how difficult BSL is.

"When you think of how many people lose their hearing in old age, if they - and the sales assistants, HCPs, family members, etc with whom they will be interacting - could already sign, wouldn't life be so much easier. "

Sad to say, I think people lose their BSL knowledge very quickly. I would be surprised if a child who has been taught BSL would remember any of it in their 70s. Most people who lose their hearing in old age find it easier if the sales assistant writes it down.

MammaTJ Sat 12-Jan-13 18:14:22

They learn Somerset Total Communication in the local schools. It is for people with communication problems as well as deaf people. It is sign langauage and pictures.

I did a short level one course in it and really enjoyed it.

MuddlingMackem Sat 12-Jan-13 18:20:18

TheNebulousBoojum Sat 12-Jan-13 18:09:37

>>>> So, a parental responsibility? All people to learn both languages?
Sounds like a plan to me, but how many parents would say that they are far too busy to learn it themselves or to teach their children? <<<<<

If it was even taught as a GSCE option it would be a start. I think you'd have to be looking at it as a work in progress and it would take decades to be a true joint language. But no harm in aiming for that. smile

ReallyTired Sat 12-Jan-13 18:13:20

>>>> Sad to say, I think people lose their BSL knowledge very quickly. I would be surprised if a child who has been taught BSL would remember any of it in their 70s. <<<<

Would probably depend on how much they'd used it throughout their life though. Maybe the main use for most would be ordering drinks in noisy bars and clubs. grin

TheNebulousBoojum Sat 12-Jan-13 18:22:11

I think as a GCSE option, it sounds a fantastic idea. I think wedging BSL into the primary curriculum is not.

Theicingontop Sat 12-Jan-13 18:23:53

Maybe the main use for most would be ordering drinks in noisy bars and clubs.

Or to have a nice sweary argument in front of an oblivious two year old.


MuddlingMackem Sat 12-Jan-13 18:27:41

Theicingontop Sat 12-Jan-13 18:23:53

>>>>> Or to have a nice sweary argument in front of an oblivious two year old. <<<<

I'm not sure how oblivious they would be considering how well most babies and toddlers take to signing/makaton when it's introduced. grin

Now, I really must go and read the thread before I post anymore. blush

mrsjay Sat 12-Jan-13 18:28:01

my dds got the basics in primary school and also makaton well dd2 as a child in her class used it, not sure it a skill all children would need or use interesting thought though,

Loquace Sat 12-Jan-13 18:31:02

Or to have a nice sweary argument in front of an oblivious two year old

Or for a couple of ten year olds to have a nice sweary argument and plot norty things in front of oblivious parents.grin

hermioneweasley Sat 12-Jan-13 18:32:02

I did a BSL course and have NEVER used it. I would however use any of the modern European languages weekly if not daily if I could speak any.

If you can speak English and Spanish you can speak to 70% of the world (apparently)

mrsjay Sat 12-Jan-13 18:34:44

Oh a comedian whos name I forgot he is australian and did the last leg when the paralympics were on anyway he has an interpreter at his gigs 1 was on e4 a few months ago and they did some swearing just to piss the signer off was very funny grin

BackforGood Sat 12-Jan-13 18:39:01

Adam Hills - it was brill, wasn't it grin

OddBoots Sat 12-Jan-13 18:40:10

mrsjay That was Adam Hills and that show had me absolutely howling with laughter - especially the deaf gay strippers!

mrsjay Sat 12-Jan-13 18:41:42

ADMA HILLS thank you , you know when you just get a block on a name was driving me daft, I was going to google australian comedian with 1 foot grin

yes his stage show was hilarious

DamnBamboo Sat 12-Jan-13 18:43:08

BSL ought to be a joint official language of the country with English and everybody ought to be taught it from birth

Really? Given that the vast majority of the population can communicate quite effectively without it?

UniS Sat 12-Jan-13 18:59:58

Deaf awareness in primary school, yes. I think that would be possible and helpful for lots of children giving a bit more awareness for how they talk with older hearing impaired adults and hearing aid using children managing to cope in mainstream. Finger spelling included.

BSL in primary - It would be nice but costly to do it well and if there is no BSL using community I fear most would be forgotten rapidly.

BSL as a GCSE level qualification- now that's an interesting idea and one I think MIGHT be feasible in some schools. IF a BSL qualified teacher can be found with the availability and right other qualifications to teach school age children.

I learnt BSL as an adult, went as far as stage 2, used BSL socially for a few years, then moved and changed my social circle. I now remember very little BSL, but have reasonable deaf awareness.

ReallyTired Sat 12-Jan-13 19:06:35

"Maybe the main use for most would be ordering drinks in noisy bars and clubs.

Or to have a nice sweary argument in front of an oblivious two year old."

Trust me, its VERY easy to pick up swear words in BSL. I worked with teenage Deaf chldren and frankly their signing belonged in the gutter. Swearing is the easy part of BSL to understand.

Teaching deaf awareness is very different to learning BSL. My FIL is profoundly deaf because he has been deafened. His needs are very different to someone who has been deaf since birth or someone who is a bit hard of hearing. I feel its important to realise that the word deaf can cover almost any level of hearing loss. Prehaps deaf awareness can be fitted into PHSCE as part of overall disablity awareness.

Considering there are only an estimated 70,000 ( there's no definitive number) BSL users in the UK I think that BSL as a GCSE option in all schools couldn't be justified, however it might be useful in areas where there is a big Deaf community and/or schools with Deaf students. Even then though as a GCSE it would only really be of use if someone wanted a career working with BSL users, wouldn't it?

DamnBamboo Sat 12-Jan-13 19:10:09

I agree Gail

ReallyTired Sat 12-Jan-13 19:15:11

Some schools offer GCSE latin and there are ZERO latin speakers.

Similar arguements were used against teaching children welsh and galic in the past. These languages have been kept alive because children have been taught.

The reason for offering BSL in school is to increase people's knowledge of BSL so it does not die out as a language. Cochelar implants are threatening the existance of BSL. Unless BSL is offered to hearing children it will not exist in one hundred years time.

Actually there are plenty of careers where a knowledge of BSL can be benefical.

DamnBamboo Sat 12-Jan-13 19:17:43

Are they really? I didn't know that.

I suppose some things so become obsolete with technological advances don't they?

If BSL dying out because technology is superseding it, all the more reason not to teach it across schools IMO

mrsjay Sat 12-Jan-13 19:19:24

not all deaf people will have implants though I don't think I know a few deaf people and only 1 has an implant and I am able to communicate with the deaf people I know without sign language

BSL is available to anyone who wants to learn (level 1 and 2 courses and then NVQs) and absolutely should be promoted and made as accessible as possible, but I still think someone would have to be totally committed to a career working with BSL users before they took it as a GCSE. But anyone who wants a career in that area can now do NVQs so there is already a system in place which os why i wonder whether we need a GCSE. It's definitely a skill which is useful in a number of roles though.

DamnBamboo Sat 12-Jan-13 19:22:25

p.s. Latin, whilst not used to communicate with appears a lot in sciences, engineering, maths art etc...

I have basic latin simply because of my science/medical background.

I still don't think that a language that circa 70,000 use and whose numbers will drop should be taught in school.

There are so many other useful things that could be taught instead.

Bring back basic domestic science/woodwork/metalwork etc... for a start which has largely been eroded over the years and which all pupils will benefit from

UniS Sat 12-Jan-13 19:25:30

GCSE level qualification may be an NVQ, lots of school offer NVQs in a variety of subjects.

Theicingontop Sat 12-Jan-13 19:27:24

lol ReallyTired, DS is getting to the stage where he may understand some of it. Have to be careful.
OH uses it alongside his speech when talking to DS and just from watching his dad he's picked up basic signs, it's amazing.

It isn't always the case that Deaf people have a cochlear implant and then no longer need to sign. But the increase of implants will most definitely have an impact on the number of BSL users and also influence how BSL develops as a language I think. As long as there are Deaf people there will always be signed language in some form.

hazeyjane Sat 12-Jan-13 19:59:24

Sorry to return to Makaton again (there are 2 issues going on here, really).

*Department of Health estimated that 65,000
children and 145,000 English adults have severe or profound learning
disabilities, and 1.2 million have mild or moderate learning disabilities.*

CaseyShraeger Sat 12-Jan-13 20:17:02

Cochlear implants aren't an option for everyone by any means (my DD's permanent hearing loss is only unilateral, but if she had the same problem in both ears she'd have no hearing at all and implants wouldn't be an option either. There are plenty of people who do have that kind of hearing loss bilaterally) and vary in how well they work for those they do work for. But obviously increase in implants will have an effect.

DamnBamboo Sat 12-Jan-13 20:20:03

Perhaps this has been covered, but in terms of justifying the cost (and due diligence in this respect would have to be done) what do people perceive as being the benefits of all children learning this?

I honestly can't see for what good reason why this would be rolled out in schools

Christmasberry Sat 12-Jan-13 20:42:50

All very well saying about cochlears and not as much use for signing (my daughter has one) but these can fail or you can't wear them all the time (swimming) so how do people communicate then? We are carrying on signing with dd (6) my other two (2 & 4) are picking it up and I hope all three will take it into adulthood with them, I have done level three and hope when I go back to work I can hopefully find a job where I can use my newfound skills.

ReallyTired Sat 12-Jan-13 21:01:50

If you watch a talented signer it can really be beautiful. One of the most wonderful experiences I had was going to a pantomine which had BSL as well as English. I have to admit that my BSL was not great, but I could understand some of the jokes and humour.

Cochelar implants mean that Deaf children can attend normal schools. They do not grow up in the Deaf community. They are now very much part of the hearing community. Many Deaf people are anti cochelar implants.

Most children do 10 GCSEs. We don't expect all our children to be scientists or mathemticans or historians or artists or work in a country that uses French.

"But anyone who wants a career in that area can now do NVQs so there is already a system in place which os why i wonder whether we need a GCSE. "

Many people in the Deaf Community have campaigned for a GCSE in BSL. They want their language to get comparable respect to French, German or any other modern spoken language. Compared to the really stupid subjects that you can do a GCSE in, why not have GCSE BSL?

If you want a job that directly uses BSL then ideally you need a hell of a lot more than a GCSE. No one would think you can be a professional scientist with just a GCSE.

There is a huge difference between offering BSL and making BSL complusory for all children. Allowing BSL to count as an EBAC lanuage would help dyslexic children. Learning BSL would also help children with aspergers improve their understanding of body language.

That's fair enough Really tired, why not indeed. I suppose for me i just wonder whether i would want my child to have that over an academic subject when relevant qualifications in BSL already exist. I didn't mean that you would only need a GCSE to use BSL at a professional level, as I said in my post there is an NVQ system already in place which will take learners to the required standard, either that or post grad degree programmes. And I think the continuing fight for FULL legal recognition of BSL is what will put it on a par with other spoken languages, not by what system it is taught.

elliejjtiny Sun 13-Jan-13 00:19:38

My primary school had a "deaf unit" (in quotes because it was called that then but not very PC!) attatched so we all learnt basic sign language, mostly finger spelling. DS2 went to SN nursery so he learnt makaton although he doesn't have a speech delay. This means he can communicate with another boy in his class who has a speech delay and uses makaton, which I think has been very helpful to them both. I think learning sign language is a good skill to have. I don't know much but I "speak" it far more than I speak french which I learnt in secondary school.

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