I am beginning my level six BSL and I thought I would share the journey with you as it’s something you have already been through!
It is currently Thursday, two days before I start my level six, and I have a lot of questions and feelings:
– Scared/nervous: I am mildly terrified because it is new. What if I turn up and have absolutely no idea what’s being signed at me? What if everyone understands apart from me? I imagine the leap from level three to level six to be fairly substantial, so there is a worry that I’m not ready for the next step. Sign language interpreting is what I’ve wanted to do since I started learning level one around three years ago, so not being prepared for the next step would be difficult for me to cope with. The nerves will definitely be present. Unfortunately for me, being nervous means I trip over my words and my hands turn to marshmallows.
– Excited: I have absolutely loved my BSL journey so far, they were easily my favourite lectures at university and I always looked forward to them. So knowing that I’ll be back in that environment again in two days is something I’m really excited about.
I feel like I’ve been repeatedly punched in the forehead with a brick. The headache that has developed is extraordinary. I forgot that 6 hours of BSL is so mentally draining.
But it is absolutely worth it.
Today has been a challenging, exciting, and overwhelming day.
Before today I was concerned that I wouldn’t understand anything, that people would be signing and it would go straight over my head and I would look like an absolute fool. I can happily say that this only happened a little, which was partly due the fact that focusing on BSL for that long makes your brain feel like a fuzzy cloud. This may sound odd but if you’ve been there, then you’ll know.
The day covered: ice-breakers, regional differences, looking at the forms of assessment, looking at style when fingerspelling, and watching and analysing different level six clips from past students. The regional differences, in particular, were interesting as we looked at the different signs we had between us, and how signs for places had changed over time.
Whilst I thoroughly enjoyed the content of the day, easily one of the best parts of today was the atmosphere within the group. We were all there for the same reasons: we want to improve our skills so that we could go on to be interpreters, or teachers, or another role that will allow us to work with the deaf community. We were all there because we wanted to be, and that created a positive working atmosphere.
This environment reminds me of why I have the goals I have.
Of course, I still have my fears.
Part of my homework before my next lesson is to film myself signing about myself for five minutes. This, to me, is incredibly daunting. I wear my heart on my sleeve when I tell you that self-confidence has never been my strong point, and being critical of myself has become a bit of a pastime. So the idea of watching myself sign makes me nervous.
I think part of the problem is that when you’re hearing and learning BSL there’s a sense of caution; the deaf community are a force to be reckoned with and I became very aware of not wanting to tread on anyone’s toes or step out of place. I think this is where I’m struggling in terms of confidence, as I’m still finding where I belong in the community- I’m not fully in the community as I’m not deaf, nor an interpreter, but I am there somewhere on the outskirts.
However, I am blessed to have somehow found myself on a path with an incredibly supportive group of people whose only intentions are to help me improve my skills.
My hopes by the end of the course are that I’ll understand where I belong in the community, that I’ll be confident with my skills, and I’ll be ready to take the next steps towards achieving my goals.
(Of course, I’d also like to pass!).
Thank you for reading. Let me know if you have any advice or fun stories from when you started level six at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll respond as quickly as possible.