Leah Berenson
Leah Berenson
February 20, 2024 ·  2 min read

Primary School Teacher Scraps French Class to Teach Children Sign Language

We all use sign language to supplement verbal communication to some degree. These gestures, such as waving to someone or pointing at something, come naturally to us in daily life. These hand gestures serve as the foundation for sign language, a tool for interpersonal interaction and communication. Sign language facilitates open communication between all groups of people, regardless of one’s level of communication proficiency, deafness, or hard of hearing. “More than 11 million people in the UK with some form of hearing loss, or one in six of the population,” according to Action on Hearing Loss. By 2035, these percentages are predicted to rise to one in five. Therefore, mastering this language has numerous benefits for both individuals who can and cannot communicate themselves vocally.

The Specialty The Sign Language Initiative By Elm Tree Primary Academy

One of the first schools in the country to include British Sign Language in the curriculum is an elementary school. According to the instructors, the students adore it. Elm Tree Primary Academy in Lowestoft, Suffolk, has chosen to substitute basic BSL coaching for French and Spanish language instruction. Employees have been motivated by Daniel Jillings, a former student. Born deaf, he has been an ardent advocate for the broader use of BSL. He has been successful in his fight to get it added to the curriculum for GCSEs starting in 2025. Ann Jillings, his mother, teaches BSL to students of all ages at Elm Tree. She reports that it has become increasingly popular.

Ann Jillings teaching sign language at Elm Tree Elementary.
Image Credits: ITV

She stated, “This little girl came running up to me in Asda and signed, ‘Good afternoon, Mrs. Jillings.'” “That was flawless. That sums everything up.” Elm Tree is a specialized information source for kids who are deaf. Currently, four of its students are hard of hearing. “If they don’t have any signing peers, it can be very isolating socially,Mrs. Jillings said.

So for me, it’s a dream to see all the hearing peers at a school learning to sign and having that full communication.” Headteacher Julia Halliday stated: “I believe our young children with hearing loss are the reason BSL works.” “The Elm Tree family as a whole wants to be accepting of everyone. They are excited about it as their pals are involved.” The school is getting ready for its Christmas carol event, which will have both a singing and a sign language choir performing.

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