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British Sign Language - Beginners (Part 1 & Part 2)

Course aims

To enable learners to understand and use simple phrases, and exchange information in familiar situations, using BSL.

Course length

Part 1: 10 hours (5 weeks)

Part 2: 10 hours (5 weeks)

Who is this course for?

Part 1: This course is for complete beginners (with no prior knowledge of the language)

Part 2: For learners who have completed Beginners Part 1 or for those who have studied BSL for up to 10 hours.

Entry requirements

Good literacy, numeracy and IT skills can help you learn BSL. (We can give you advice & information about how you can improve these skills.)

BSL competence standards include requirements for candidates to have sufficient sight, manual dexterity, facial and body movement to produce and receive BSL.

Course content

You will be able to:

  • Understand and communicate in simple BSL when meeting familiar and unfamiliar people:
  • Address, greet and take leave of another BSL user
  • To fingerspell for names of people and places and recognise others’ fingerspelling
  • Use strategies for asking for clarification
  • Ask and respond to simple questions
  • Know basic numbers system for telling the time, age, money and dates
  • Ask for and give relevant personal information about self or others
  • Describe different ways of travelling
  • Ask for directions, giving and describing simple directions in places or buildings
  • Commenting on the weather

Please note that the above topics and language functions may vary according to the needs of the learners. Examples of topics which may be explored include: personal information, family, hobbies and interests, work and study, holidays, calendar information, transport, food & drink, public services and the weather.

How will I be assessed?

This course has no formal qualification; however, your work in class will be assessed by your tutor in order to enhance your learning. You will be expected to take these assessments.

Throughout your course, you will be required to complete your Individual Learning Plan (or Personal Action Plan) which includes your learning objectives, long and short term goals.

You will have opportunities to review your own progress and reflect on how you can further improve your language skills. You will set up your own personal targets (task, project, etc.) which will be reviewed with your tutor via tutorials on a one-to-one basis.

A certificate of achievement may be requested on completion of the course.

Will I gain any qualifications?

Please note that this is a non-accredited course. 

What could this course lead to?

After completing BSL Beginners part 1 AND part 2, you will be able to join BSL Improvers module 1* (non accredited).

After completing BSL Improvers module 1, you will be able to join BSL Improvers module 2* (non accredited).

After completing BSL Improvers module 2, you will be able to join BSL Lower Intermediate 1* (non accredited).

*Please note that we cannot guarantee that this level will be offered as all courses are planned subject to sufficient demand.

How will I learn?

There will be tutor input, group pair and individual work, and use of a range of audiovisual and IT resources. We aim to match the teaching to a wide range of individual learning styles and to make your learning enjoyable, challenging and rewarding. You will be given homework to complete after each session.

Some literacy, numeracy and IT skills can help you learn BSL. We can give you guidance and support to acquire these.

Your commitment as a learner

  • Attend every session of your course. If you need to miss a class, please let your tutor know in advance; Learners should consider their personal commitments and circumstances that may prevent attendance before enrolling on a course as missed classes will affect their learning. Missed classes cannot be taken at another time;
  • Have sufficient time for self-study and completion of homework; In order to maximise your learning, we strongly recommend that you spend at least 15 minutes every day (2 hours per week) on self-study, homework, language practice, etc.
  • Complete the course;
  • Complete all the assessments;

Our courses are funded by the government on that understanding.

What do I need to bring with me?

You will need to bring a pen, paper, ring-binder and you may be required to purchase a course book. Access to the internet is advisable for receptive skills practice. Public libraries all BAES adult education centres offer internet access.

Other information - Suggested books, websites and Deaf Clubs:

Books: Thompson, Alan, (2003) Easy Way Guide to Signing, Smith Cath, (2003) Let’s Sign Pocket, Dictionary Communication Link, A Dictionary of Signs, Beverley School for Deaf Children


Deaf Clubs:
The Deaf Cultural Centre, Ladywood Road, Birmingham, B16 8SZ
Walsall Deaf people’s Centre, 59a Lichfield Street, Walsall, WS4 2BX
Henry Fry Centre, Hertford Place Coventry, CV1 3JZ
Rycote Centre, Parker Street, Derby, DE1 3HF

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