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Hello, and welcome to the third instalment of this BSL Level 6 Journey. It’s not been long since my last blog about this, so hopefully you can remember where I was at before.

But if not, here’s a quick re-cap:

– I had submitted a 5-minute clip signing about myself.

– I have decided to take a gap between level 6 and Interpreter training to gain more experience.

– I was leaving each BSL lesson absolutely exhausted!

ON THE DAY

I must say, I am absolutely loving the rapport that’s being built within the group. Immediately upon arrival, we’re greeting eachother and catching up on the past few weeks we’ve not seen eachother. It may sound obvious, but being able to work with such a lovely, supportive, group really helps the process seem more like a team effort.

There were several key things to focus on today; new vocabulary we’d learnt, looking at English phrases and how it’s so important to consider context when translating, analysing past level 6 student clips, and feedback on the dreaded clips we submitted!

Looking at the new vocabulary was as fascinating to me as it always has been – it’s what drew me into sign language in the first place! The aim of this session was to be able to share our independent learning and to check if various signs were correct or not. Several of my classmates work in the educational setting, as teachers, communication support workers, etc, and so a lot of the signs we discussed were looking at the differences between educational signs and signs that are used outside of this setting.

For example, one of my classmates had learnt the sign for pi. One of my tutors then told us how, as a student, his teacher had used the sign for ‘pie’ to refer to ‘pi’. He described it as an example of ‘lazy’ signing – something that we discuss a lot. It appears that there are lots of ways to be a ‘lazy signer’ but we should never, ever do it.

To give you an example, we looked at English phrases and translation, and how context may influence this. For example, “make up”. Well… what’s the context? The stuff that goes on your face? To tell or exaggerate a lie? To re-form a relationship after an argument? The context is essential as each example demanded a different translation.

In relation to ‘lazy’ signing, we looked at the phrase “cut off”. In the context of having your hair cut, a visual ‘scissors cutting’ movement is accurate. But in the context of “if you don’t pay your electricity bills, you will be cut off” this movement would incorrect. Yet, it appears this is how some deaf people will sign it. One of my tutors admitted that this is how they sign it, and admitted that this is an example of ‘lazy’ signing.

One of the most fascinating parts of the day was looking at past students clips. I was incredibly surprised by the varying standards within the different clips, especially upon discovering which were submitted to the portfolio which enabled the student to pass.

Each clip explored a different topic, and the styles could not have been more varied. One student signed incredibly quickly, but had beautiful placement and lip pattern. It was rejected from the portfolio for being too quick and too short – yet I understood what was being discussed due to the clarity of the students signing.

In contrast, a second clip was quite slow. Again, I understood what was happening, but that’s because there was plenty of time to process the information – but it made the cut for the portfolio.

A third clip was like the above; good pacing, clear information, and made it into the portfolio.

But the last clip was a real struggle for me. The placement was unclear and the signer would often go off-topic, and use abbreviations that weren’t explained within the clip. Without this extra information, I was truly lost. Within the five minutes that we watched, I grasped a handful of signs. Luckily, the same could be said for most of my peers who watched the clip with equally baffled faces. I was even more baffled to discover that the clip was put into the portfolio, and the student passed.

But I can’t really complain about other people’s clips without sharing the feedback I received for mine!

Overall, I was pretty chuffed with my feedback. To improve, I need to use slightly less lip pattern, be careful of English influence, and make sure that I hold my hand tension throughout. I’ll take that feedback.

The key challenge here will be avoiding English influence. English is my first language, it’s how I think, so it can be a challenge to try and work “through deaf eyes” as my tutors say. This might simply be a case of more practise, which can only be a good thing.

Finally, the most important victory of the day – I made it all the way through without zoning out from tiredness! Success!

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