Studying Signing Language
As part of my degree course, I committed to study how to communicate via signing language. I started by contacting a mentor, whom I had pre negotiated with, to help me throughout this period. My mentor is a teacher in a learning disability school, at the riverside school in Orpington. I had previously met my mentor and her class as part of my placement in my first year. Hence, I had already familiarised myself with the school and some of the students. Also, whilst I was here before, I remember being so frustrated because I had very little means and ability to express and understand any signed communication. So I was looking forward to making a change or progress in my life and that of others in my class.
My rationale for this decision was because; I wanted to learn something that was going to be useful to me throughout my career. Then it was only logical for me to learn and practise in an appropriate environment.
My journey began with a visit to the school, where I meet with my mentor on a typical school day. I joined her and part-took in her lesson for half the day. I continued these visits for two weeks, going in twice a week. During her lessons; and besides helping around, I would observe how she communicated with her pupils and also learnt basic signing language vocabularies. I also learnt which signing language was used in Great Britain.
At the end of these two weeks, the school closed for the Easter break. My mentor then advised me on how and where to continue doing some research and studies on signing language. She also provided me with materials and websites to help me with my studies, during the two weeks holidays.
I found out, there were websites offering tuitions for free on learning singing language at various levels. As this was to become a self directed study period, I decided to learn how to sign simple things like names, days of the week, names of places, kinds of food etc. I was only interested in areas I knew will be useful for me in the classroom and also baring in mind vocabularies I expected to be used in everyday life.
This website, did not offer exams as I had originally planned to test myself. But I knew, after the holiday, I would be going back to the school, where I had to start signing. Upon return, I did not want to be only an observer but also to engage myself with very little barriers.
I spent any spare time I had, looking through the website. They had pictures and demonstrations of how to sign. Totally, I took 90 hours of self directed studies which I spent two hours daily studying from this website and sometimes, watch programmes on channel four, which had someone translating via signing language. I also spent 19 hours at the school, which was three hours twice a week.
After the holiday, I went back to the school (spending two hours, twice a week), and practice signing language. I felt accomplished when I got some positive feedbacks from my tutor who was very impressed.
To account for other activities I did throughout this period, I have listed relevant events which I consider as being part of my academic achievements and as part of the transition. I attended training sessions at the university, for resuscitation and moving and handling. I was also called by the school office to rectify my practice assessment document. This involved returning to various placement areas to have my documentations corrected. I also attended a school meeting as a student representative for my cohort.