British Sign Language Courses

Visually communicate and broaden your horizons

Used by 145,000 deaf people in the UK, British Sign Language (BSL) involves hand, face, body, and head movements to communicate. If you want to interact with the deaf community or hope to work using BSL, browse our range of British Sign Language courses below.
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British Sign Language (BSL)

British Sign Language (BSL) is the sign language, or language communicated through visual gestures and signs, preferred by deaf people in the United Kingdom. BSL involves hand, body, face and head movements to convey meaning. While BSL is primarily used among the deaf community, thousands of people who are not deaf use BSL to communicate with deaf friends and family, interpret sign language, or in any instance of contact with the deaf community.

Many people are surprised to learn that most sign languages have little relation to the spoken language. Indeed, BSL has its own grammatical structure and syntax and as a language is not dependent on or strongly related to spoken English. The isolated nature of sign language evolution means that there is even regional variation within Britain, similar to regional accents and colloquialisms in spoken languages. BSL is most closely related to sign languages in Australia and New Zealand, but actually differs from Irish sign language which is more closely related to American or French sign languages.

If you live in the UK and wish to communicate easily with the deaf community, a course in BSL could be right for you.

British Sign Language Courses

Courses in BSL are delivered at a number of levels, including informal learning, non-accredited qualifications, or accredited qualifications. 

For example, you can learn BSL informally at a deaf club or signing group. You can also study entry level BSL 1, 2 and 3 for an introduction to BLS/Family Sign Language without an accredited qualification. This is ideal for people who do not wish to work in sign language, but want to communicate with loved ones.

Accredited qualifications exist for BSL Levels 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6 and often result in an NVQ. To work as an interpreter, you’ll need a degree of level 6 award in BSL and interpreting.

How do I learn British Sign Language?

British Sign Language can be taught in-person by an instructor or can be learned through an online course. Learning in the classroom might involve demonstrations by the tutor, group and pair work, role play, games, and other modes of conversation. 

Online courses can also provide a well-rounded education in the comfort of your own home and in your own time. 

Regardless of the delivery method, students will usually learn the history and culture of sign language and the basics of the language.

Where can I find British Sign Language courses?

Many different groups provide BSL courses, such as: 

  • Local colleges
  • Private businesses
  • Charities
  • Volunteer groups

Search by your location to find the most suitable provider in terms of cost, location, speed of learning and course times.

Who should take a British Sign Language course?

Anyone who wants to improve their British Sign Language skills should take a course. The most common reasons for studying BSL are:

  • To communicate with deaf friends, family or coworkers
  • To express yourself through body language
  • To challenge yourself and learn a new language
  • To work for an organisation that supports deaf people
  • To work in a school or college as an educational support assistant
  • To work as an interpreter

If any of these sound like you, browse our selection of British Sign Language courses above.

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