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British Sign Language for Beginners – A Complete Guide


Lead Academy

9 Mins Read

British Sign Language(BSL) is the first preferred language in the UK among hard of hearing or deaf people. Hand movements, gestures, body language, and facial expressions will help anyone communicate effectively with them. As per the Office for National Statistics population data (2018), approximately 12 million adults in the UK suffer from hearing loss greater than 25 dBHL (dBHL is the unit of sound).

Learning British Sign Language is essential if you want to communicate with people who are hard of hearing or deaf. It will help you learn the language, understand people who are deaf or have hearing loss and communicate with them in a language they can understand. Further, the British Sign Language Course will help you learn the language and kickstart your career in the same.

You can get acquainted with the fundamentals of British Sign Language by going through our Beginner’s Guide, which will help you improve your basic concepts and communicate the language fluently.

blog-starAre you looking for a sign language course?

Then you should definitely go for one of the most popular sign languages used in the UK, British Sign Language (BSL). Join the online British Sign Language course offered by Lead Academy and become a certified BSL teacher.

A group of deaf people communicating through British sign language

Is British Sign Language Easy?

There is a myth regarding sign languages. Some people believe it is pretty challenging to master sign language. However, British Sign Language is relatively easy to understand, provided you have a good learning platform.

  • You need to become familiar with the basic concepts such as daily common words, phrases and grammar, and you will get hold of Sign Language For Beginners UK effortlessly.
  • You can sail through the British Sign Language Course smoothly with the help of experienced and professional industry experts.
  • Like any other language, BSL also constitutes grammar.
  • To convey the message and understand the same, you need to understand its grammar well.
  • Only a reputed and authorised British sign language online course can assist you in comprehending it easily.
  • The language consists of lip movements, hand movements, facial expressions, finger spellings, and more.
  • You need to learn how to use your body language and other such gestures to communicate with those who are deaf. Wherein, learning the tenses might become a difficult task.
  • British Sign Language does not specify the tense, hence understanding whether the sentence referring to the past, present or future, becomes a hard nut to crack. However, if you learn from a reputed and leading e-platform, excelling will become a piece of cake.
  • You should do regular and constant practice to master BSL. Training from experts will make learning BSL easy for you.

A woman wearing white and holding two fingers raised palm while using sign language

How many Signs are there in the British Sign language?

The British Sign Language Dictionary was edited by David Brien and published in 1992. As per the dictionary, there are more than 1,800 signs in British Sign Language and these signs are arranged in the phonological characteristics. However, unlike the English alphabetical order, the alphabet in British sign language proceeds with hand gestures and body movements. This means the signs start with the actions of the fingers, followed by the movements of the fist, and open hand gestures, and finally, you learn about facial expressions.

The BSL utilises all these signs to make daily communication easier for people who are deaf and have hearing loss. Hence to strengthen the communication of sign language, you need to work hard on the fingers and hand movements. British Sign Language alphabet has a distinct gesture. You use these gestures and hand movements to communicate with deaf people. Though most of the gestures used in BSL look similar, the message it conveys is entirely different.

For example, the fist with thumb-in is M and thumb-out is S. These small changes hold the ability to change the meaning of the message one is trying to convey.

How long does it take to master British Sign Language Fluently?

The answer to this question depends on various factors. To know the amount of time to invest in learning BSL, you need to rely on the answers to these three questions:

Are you a beginner, or do you have intermediate knowledge of BSL?

If you are a beginner, you will take more time to absorb the language than a decent experience. However, your motivation, zeal and understanding will make the whole learning process easier for you.

Which level of BSL are you willing to learn?

BSL is classified into different levels. The British Sign Language Level 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 are the six levels of learning sign language. The difficulty of the levels increases with their numbers.

If you are a beginner, starting your lessons with level 1 is always a good idea. Learning Level 1 takes less time than Level 2, Level 2 takes less time than Level 3, etc.
However, British Sign Language Level 1 and 2 provide you with all the essential communication skills and improve your understanding of BSL.

The offers the BSL online course and follows an easy-to-understand learning procedure. The BSL course of the Lead Academy is CPD accredited and makes learning easy with its flexible timing and high-quality study material.

What procedure is followed by the BSL training academies?

Every academy has its teaching method, which affects the time the learner requires to master the British Sign Language Course. The engagement of the learning platform with the students, the study material and the quality of teaching impacts the time you will take to learn British Sign Language.

Before selecting the e-learning platform for studying BSL, one should always consider the learning platform that offers courses that are accredited by renowned organisations, has high-quality study material and experienced online tutors.

The answers to these three questions will tell you how long it takes to Learn British Sign Language for Beginners.

How many Sign Languages are there in the UK other than BSL?

As verbal languages change with the shift in culture and geographical region, sign languages also take various forms. Though the changes in sign language do not rely entirely on the factors mentioned above, people tend to go for different types of sign language at their convenience. Consider that American Sign Language and British sign language both are poles apart. On the contrary, there is a considerable similarity in their dialects.

A few of the very popular Sign Language For Beginners UK, except BSL, are described below:

Irish Sign Language: After BSL, Irish Sign Language (ISL) is the most widely used sign language. This language is used in the Republic of Ireland; however, the Northern Ireland people also consider going for this one. ISL is relevant to both BSL and French Sign Language to a great extent. Due to the availability of different schools for males and females to learn ISL, the language differs between the genders too.

Sign Supported English (SSE): This sign language is not entirely different from BSL. It is just the flow of the SSE language that sets it apart. British Sign Language has its flow of alphabets, words, and phrases, whereas the flow of SSE is similar to spoken English. This sign language is specially designed for the convenience of those who are deaf or have hearing loss and trying to learn the grammar of spoken English.

Makaton: This sign language makes communication easier for those suffering from learning and communication issues. Makaton is used by people with a neurological disorder, Down’s Syndrome, or related issues. Unlike the sign languages that differ from country to country, the signs used in Makaton signs UK are similar across the globe.

A woman wearing white is communicating through British sign language


How to learn British Sign Language for beginners? 

Learning British Sign Language (BSL) for beginners can be a fun and rewarding experience. Taking an online course is the quickest and most convenient way to start learning British Sign Language. You have the freedom to study BSL at your own pace and in your own time with this option.

How to learn BSL? 

Online courses typically start with the basics, such as fingerspelling and how to introduce yourself, and then progress to more complex signs. With online courses, you have the freedom to study BSL at your own pace and in your own time.

How can I teach myself sign language? 

To teach yourself sign language, start by familiarizing yourself with the manual alphabet and numbers so you can fingerspell basic words and phrases. Then, move on to learning the basics of signing through online courses, books, or videos.

Is BSL hard to learn? 

BSL (British Sign Language) can take some time to learn and master, but with dedication and practice, it can become second nature. Gradually increase your knowledge of BSL by learning new signs and phrases.


Numerous e-platforms provide comprehensive information on the nuances of BSL. However, if you need experienced and dedicated online experts to help you become a BSL professional, enrol with the British Sign Language (BSL) Level 1 & 2 courses of the Lead Academy.

If you want to master the same, you should enrol in the CPD accredited British sign language online course. Learning the BSL course from Lead Academy will save you time and money. It offers a Self-Paced Online Learning feature, expert teaching faculty and the finest study material.

The course has many top-notch features and is available at competitive pricing. You can register with Lead Academy to enjoy the benefits of quality learning.

The certification will also help you converse with deaf people and guide you to kickstart your career in British Sign Language for beginners today. Signup with the Lead Academy now and become an expert Sign Language interpreter.

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