I am entirely lost learning British Sign language (BSL), help needed! Tons of variations??


    I was looking at learning British Sign Language (BSL) and wanted to pick up the basics before attending a course.

    I used youtube and a BSL application on the android play store and picked up the basic letters A-Z.

    Went onto colours, and now I am getting confused... the same colour has a different sign depending on what material I look at, I thought I had learned some colours and then looked at different sources (sites and youtube) to find out different places had an entirely different sign for each colour in BSL.

    I called a BSL place in Scotland to be told one colour could have 33 different variations in BSL?? I am totally lost in how to learn this language.

    I was told to just pick one variation of the word I am learning that is easiest, but how am I meant to understand people signing using BSL if they use a different variation? How is it possible to learn all the different variations if they are so wide and varied?

    Desperately need some help and advice with learning BSL, as it is starting to look impossible. How do people learn if there is so many different ways to sign each word?

    Help please! I am not sure what to do

    Thanks in advance!


    Just learn by baby steps. You don't give reception children an A level english exam.

    Original Poster

    I don't understand how to learn if there is so much variation in signs for each word.

    If I start learning what I think is numbers, letters, colors, basic communication etc before I attend a class, it looks like the class could have an entirely different set of signs making what I have learned useless.

    I don't know how to learn BSL at all because so many places use different signs for the same word. It seems like its similar to learning multiple languages at once.

    Am I wrong? I don't want to leave from learning british sign language, but I am very confused on what to do.

    Just think of it like normal language where are there are different words that mean the same thing. Ultimately the detail won't make a huge difference in the message you are relaying.

    I watch Mr tumble with my son and iv picked up a bit without even trying, check him out on YouTube

    Are you based in Scotland? I know a lady who teaches sign language in the Aberdeen area.

    Time and understanding with some commitment is what it takes - easier for those who are, or close to, someone who has hearing impairment.

    And I just want to show my appreciation to you for wanting to learn something that is not "normally" required so that you can participate with those affected by hearing loss and allow/assist them in as near normal life as possible.

    Much respect

    Doffs cap

    purchased a book from Amazon BSL For dummies it's a good Book. should help you out. regarding the variations I think it's similar to accents. they vary slightly but if the other person doesn't understand that particular colour you could always finger spell it. chin up!

    Attend the class, they will be used to beginners and will give you guidance on how to move forward.

    Original Poster

    Thanks for the advice people

    Yes I am based in Scotland. I have installed a couple of android apps to my phone and a kindle book for BSL. It is difficult because the three of them give different signs for the same word, example 'red'. I think I have learned a colour, but then a different BSL place uses an entirely different sign.

    I will keep working at it, and join a class in my area so I get used to the common signs used for each word.

    Edited by: "Furdin" 12th Aug 2016
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