How to learn bsl sign language

Written by stephanie t. scott
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British Sign Language (BSL) is a way for deaf people to communicate with other people. BSL uses different signs than American Sign Language (ASL) and other sign languages around the world. Interpreters are experts in facilitating the communication between someone who is deaf and another who is not deaf. You don't have to be an expert to learn BSL.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging


    How to Learn BSL Sign Language

  1. 1

    Memorise the BSL alphabet. Go to the British Sign Language Tutorial website to see photos of hands signing each letter, as well as a description of the action needed to make the sign. Download and print a free copy of the fingerspelling alphabet or watch video tutorials from the British Sign Language Resources website

  2. 2

    Learn how to sign the numbers. Go to the Deaf Blind Manual website to see diagrams of hands signing the numbers from 0 to 13, as well as 1/2, 20, 30, 100 and 1,000. The diagrams also show the ordinal numbers from first to third and last place.

  3. 3

    Practice the numbers and letters using fingerspelling. Instead of using a single sign for each word, spell out each word letter by letter.

  4. 4

    Learn commonly used words such as the signs for the days of the week, colours, time, health and safety. These words will be useful when you are first starting to learn BSL. The Deaf Blind Manual website shows sketches of these signs, such as the signs for the words "where," "why," "emergency," "stop" and "wait."

  5. 5

    Practice and master fingerspelling and the signs of commonly used words. Use the Guide to British Sign Language website to see videos and descriptions of the signs for different animals, transportation, directions, drinks and emotions.

Tips and warnings

  • To help teach children BSL, go to DLTK's Growing Together website to print out colouring pages with the letter and sign on each page.

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