Learning Sign Language Online

by A Guest Author

Whether you've lost your hearing, have deaf friends or relatives or just want to be able to communicate with deaf people, learning sign language can help you to enrich your life and the lives of others. We've put together a handy guide to sign language, and how you can learn and practice it using the internet.

Sign language - the basics

Sign language is a form of communication, usually used by people who are deaf or have impaired hearing. It consists of gestures, facial expressions and body language, enabling deaf people to communicate with other deaf people and those without hearing impairments.

Different countries (and sometimes regions within a country) have different sign languages, and these languages have their own grammar and syntax, so make sure you learn the most appropriate sign language for your needs. The main sign language system in the UK is called British Sign Language (BSL). The Republic of Ireland has its own sign language - Irish Sign Language - and you may also find people using this in Northern Ireland.

Where can you learn sign language?

You can learn British Sign Language at evening or day classes at colleges across the UK, but these courses can be expensive. Turn to the internet, however, and you'll find plenty of free and low-cost online courses and materials to help you get started.

You can access a free, 17-unit, online video course, for example, via Signstation.org. You can also download a 4,000 word British Sign Language dictionary for your mobile phone or PC from the Signstation site, to help you increase your vocabulary.

Another online sign language course provider is british-sign.co.uk. They offer a 7-session interactive online course costing just £15, which they estimate will take you 5 to 10 weeks to complete. You'll also find sign language videos on YouTube.

Once you've learned the basics using online resources, you might decide you'd like to get a qualification, particularly if you'd like to pursue a career in which you're working with deaf and hearing impaired people. You can gain NVQs in British Sign Language and Irish Sign Language, and you can find out more about courses and qualifications online on deaf charity Signature's website.

Practicing your sign language skills online

Whether you're learning sign language with a friend or family member, or are developing your sign language skills so you can communicate with someone you know who is deaf or hearing impaired, you can practice online using video conferencing.

Sign language is a visual form of communication so you need to see the person you're talking to. But you don't have to be in the same room as them. Just schedule in an online video chat using your mobile phone, laptop, tablet or PC and you can have a conversation with them using sign language wherever they are - even if they're on the other side of the world.

As with any language, the best way to improve your skills is to use British Sign Language whenever you can - giving you a great excuse to video call someone for a gossip.

Have you learned British Sign Language? How has it helped you? Do you have any tips for anyone wanting to learn sign language online?

About The Author

Catherine Halsey writes for a digital marketing agency on a range of subjects. This article links back to Skype.

This post was written by A Guest Author

This post was written by a guest author. If you have high quality, useful information to share with students, send us an email or click Write For Us to learn more. And in case you're wondering - yes, you can promote yourself in this fancy author byline.

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