Sunday, 27 March 2011

Finger spelling.

I've just come back from my first class of learning British Sign Language (BSL). I have always wanted to learn it and now I feel like I'm making slow and steady steps towards that goal.
After an hour of learning finger spelling for the letters in the alphabet and practising asking what peoples' names are and saying what my name is, I wondered why children in primary/secondary school are not taught BSL more fully. (Maybe this does happen in some schools, but I never came across it during my years at school!) I think it would be great if children learnt BSL instead of French/ German/ Spanish/ Mandarin etc. at primary school. I discussed this with my sister and she agreed.

So, after a little bit of non-extensive googling I came across this article then this article (number 2). Now, why is BSL not considered to be a language? I think this is a poor decision that has been made by the government.

My reasoning: children do not know what nouns, determiners, verbs etc. are at primary school, or if they do they have a very limited knowledge of them; yet the learning of a foreign language like French or German requires children to be able to make these sort of distinctions, especially where verb endings and passive vs. active sentences are involved, when they are just starting to explore and further develop their native language. Wouldn't it be so much easier if the child learnt sign language where the signs used mostly define the words they are saying and also because BSL doesn't focus on words like 'the' and 'a' so only the 'core' words (and I define 'core' as nouns and verbs) are communicated? I think so! Children would love to learn sign language! It's a very active language that allows them to explore and move about. It is a creative language.
Some babies even learn baby sign language so surely it cannot be too complicated for children to learn the basics of sign language.

The government are all for cultural awareness and embracing other cultures but yet they see no need to teach children deaf awareness in school or teach them a language that they can actually use in society today. 'British Sign Language, which is the first language of around 70,000 people in this country, does not have the same status as languages like French or Mandarin in our schools.' (source) There are people in our community today who we could reach out to by learning BSL.

I am definitely not against learning foreign languages at school. The secondary school I attended specialised in languages and I studied both French and German and absolutely loved it (and even spent my first year of uni studying Mandarin) and do think they have enriched my life and helped me to develop cultural awareness; however, I believe that if primary school children were taught BSL instead of a foreign language like French or German and then were able to either carry this on at secondary school or take up the modern languages then they would have such a greater awareness for the deaf community and also be able to have language skills that could help them in the future lives.

(source of image)

1 comment:

  1. So funny you say that - my husband speaks french and I'm learning, but he doesn't understand why I don't know what things like 'past participle' mean. You'd think that growing up in England would mean I spoke English, but no. I mean, I speak it, but not on any sort of meta level. Found your blog via facebook, btw