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How to Start Teaching Signed Language

By: Joanne Walker BA (hons) - Updated: 8 Dec 2012 | comments*Discuss
Teaching Sign Language Basics

Teaching sign language is an incredibly worthwhile thing to do, whether it is to parents of deaf children or to people who want to learn sign language with a view to communicating with deaf people at work, socially or by volunteering. Without people to teach sign language, there would be no way of passing on the skills and it would be in danger of dying out. But for anyone who wants to start to teach sign language, they may well want to know where to start.

Basics of Teaching

First and foremost, anyone who wants to learn how to teach sign language has to learn sign language itself. This may sound obvious but it is imperative that anyone who wants to teach others how to use and communicate with sign language can do so themselves. In the business of communication, a teacher being able to put across exactly what they mean in a clear and concise way is absolutely imperative.

Teaching Experience

The other thing anyone wanting to teach sign language will need is teaching experience. But because of the nature of sign language, many people come into it without any experience of teaching. Many deaf people go into teaching sign language when they realise how important a skill it is for people such as parents of deaf children to have. But this can often mean that the teachers of sign language have no experience. Of course, everyone has to start somewhere, but, if you fall into this category, then it could give you a massive advantage when it comes to getting a job to have had some teaching experience, even if it is unpaid.

Therefore, it may be worth asking local voluntary and community groups if they want or need anyone to help out with the teaching of sign language to their members. This way, you can brush up on your teaching skills before applying for jobs.


When you are confident that teaching sign language is for you, you may want to get some kind of certificate or accreditation that shows you are a competent teacher. This can take many forms and really depends on whether you want to make teaching a career or if it something you are doing for pleasure.

If you think it could be a career move for you, then it may well be worth investigating doing a PGCE and gaining your teaching credentials that way. On the other hand, if you do not want to do a full time teaching course such as that, there are plenty of British Sign Language associations which will offer certificates to prove you can communicate effectively through sign language.

Whether or not you want to make teaching sign language a career or if you just want it to be a pastime, going about it in the right way will make you a better teacher and help you to get more enjoyment out of it. It will also give your pupils confidence in your ability – and confidence to choose you as a teacher which will hopefully be fully justified when they start learning sign language and really experience for themselves what a good teacher you are.

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