Friday, 24 October 2014

Review of Sign World

Sign World is a website which offers lessons in British Sign Language (BSL). I have already written a post on why learning sign language is a great idea (click here to read it), and so I thought I would share this marvelous resource with you all. It is actually the best BSL-related website I have come across, and I really have looked a lot!

Ways to learn BSL
I learned BSL primarily through evening classes, and I would say that this is the best method, because you are communicating with a native speaker at a level that is appropriate to you. However, these courses can be expensive, and in many areas there simply are no courses at the right level, or at all. There are a range of BSL-related books, which can help you along, but they do not always show signs accurately or realistically, nor do they really 'teach' you the language.

Therefore, for a lot of people, online learning is the best solution, whether alongside real-life lessons or independently. The videos on this particular site are of very high quality and are, in my opinion, the next best thing to having a BSL teacher there with you. (obviously there are not very many of these in Belgium!)

Different levels
If there are classes at a local college, they will usually only be level 1 and 2 (2 being roughly GCSE standard). Level 3 is A-level standard, and level 4 is for those training to become interpreters or otherwise working with BSL on a daily basis. The levels on the Sign World website go up to level 4, meaning that a high level of competence is available through online lessons. This is perfect for me, as I am very far away from BSL users here, but also as I like to review material to check how much I have remembered, something that the videos allow very easily.

Style of teaching
You can actually access the first lesson of level one here for free, which shows the format followed through the rest of the levels. There is a story, which you can watch through in its entirety. It is then broken down into individual phrases, which are shown in many different regional variations (this is a godsend!), and there is the opportunity to have the English translation for if you didn't understand fully. Each lesson has several stories like this, on different topics, and gradually building up in difficulty.

The price of these lessons are what I would call 'moderate', considering that lessons at certain colleges can cost hundreds of pounds (and a lot more besides - here's a tip, go to evening classes while you are still at school, or while you are at uni - it is significantly cheaper at these times).

Level 1 individually is £29.99, going up slightly for each level, with packages available for if you buy multiple levels at a time. Depending on how much time you dedicate to the language, it will probably take you around a year to master a level, so I would say that spending thirty pounds on unlimited use of the relevant resources is not at all a bad way to spend your time and money.

For people who are interested in learning BSL, I cannot recommend this website enough, and I really think that the people who created it deserve a lot of credit for making BSL so much more accessible.

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