I’ve been wanting to write this for a while now, but I’ve been stupidly busy/occupied/lazy to actually do it. I know, I’m terrible…
Recently, I’ve been learning BSL with some lovely folk at an evening class run by Signite in Bristol. We’re all beginners, and I have no idea how Matt (our tutor who has about 10% hearing and has had since birth) has been able to cope with us constantly spelling our words incorrectly or (what I’m guilty of) getting signs mixed up because they look so similar!
The way in which the class is taught operates on a strict no voice policy. Besides, even if we were talking, Matt wouldn’t be able to hear us, or at least not to an extent that would in any way assist our learning. We would only be talking to ourselves, and then we wouldn’t learn anything. Plus, it’d be incredibly rude.
Before I stray completely off-topic, this post is dedicated to looking at something that I may have picked up incorrectly, but I would love the chance to research if more people can verify it.
During our first few lessons, as aforementioned, we’ve been getting things wrong thick and fast! Imagine the first few language lessons you had at school, endlessly ‘repeating after me’ in big groups and pronouncing words like Bonjour, wie gehts and me llamo in such a way to make any respective native speaker think why are you destroying my language?!?
Now, while imagining that, can you remember remember a teacher, tutor or assistant squinting, covering their ears or, if your French classes were anything like mine in Year 8, running out of the class in horror of the noises being created? Okay, well what about when you hear a loud noise when you’re trying to understand something or hear someone clearer? Do you find yourself almost scrunching your face up somewhat, as if the noise is too much and you start to shy or hide away from the noise?
I hope you can, otherwise the rest of this post is a little pointless.
Bearing in mind that it’s a no voice environment, I’ve seen our tutor do exactly the same thing. When we were all attempting to sign our names (somewhat maniacally) I looked up at him a few times to observe that he was kind of shying away from the noise, much like a hearing person would in a similarly loud situation. To me, and to the rest of the group, looking at these hand gestures didn’t really mean anything. We all looked silly (in my “educated” opinion…) but it got me thinking about just what exactly loud could mean.
Can anybody else shed some light on this? Are there any sign language learners, members of the deaf/signing community, or any other observers that can add to this hypothesis? Discussions are needed =]