Florence shares how our British Sign Language course has given her so much more than new language skills

Florence shares how our British Sign Language course has given her so much more than new language skills


Our Marketing and Communications Officer Florence Walkey shares her experience of attending the Introduction to British Sign Language course as a learner. . .

Florence tells us, “As a staff member at Addysg Oedolion Cymru | Adult Learning Wales, I am encouraged to continue my professional development and grasp opportunities for new and continued learning wherever possible. One opportunity I really couldn’t miss was when I was invited to learn British Sign Language. I have always been fascinated by languages and how we communicate with each other, and as a visual learner I thought this might be something I’d be able to apply myself to. I was very excited to start learning BSL to gain a better awareness of and sensitivity to the deaf and hard of hearing community and culture. I was very keen to start learning after reading about what the course offered, but in truth, I gained a lot more than I expected from the course.”

Florence continues, “The last time I applied my brain to learning something new was a little over three years ago when I completed a PGCE course, which seems like a life time ago! Since then, I have been working in Marketing and learning other new skills such as cooking edible meals and building up my endurance on the road bike.”

But as we were all plunged into a pandemic in 2020, Florence’s health took a turn for the worse. “In early 2020, I had a stroke, which aside from being a scary experience, put my plans on hold on every level. Whilst making my recovery, I have been working very hard to achieve the same pace as I used to know; I’ve also made every effort to keep myself healthy so I can maintain stamina and not feel so tired.” Florence reflects, “My memory has been greatly affected and I often find multiple work tasks a little overwhelming, but with the help of my manager, a Resilience course through work and keeping a running list of things to do I have improved over the last few months and am handling the work/life balance a lot better.”

Florence has found that the BSL classes have increased her confidence in a number of ways: “I have started to learn a new language, pick up new communication skills, improved my use of Microsoft Teams and integrated with other colleagues who were also doing the course. I have enjoyed the combination of visual, kinaesthetic and aural learning. I have been really impressed with the relatable course content too. Initially, we learned the alphabet, simple words and phrases, identifying and using signs to convey personal information and greet people. We learned how to describe ourselves, who our family members were, our feelings, and how to ask and tell other directions and instructions – it’s amazing to think how much is packed into the weekly lessons!” Our BSL course content ranges from presentations to videos, to demonstrations and participation although care is taken to do this in a measured way, as Florence explains: ‘The Introduction to British Sign Language course isn't delivered in an overwhelming way, the balance is perfect - it is fun and engaging!”

There are opportunities for lone working and pair/group work too, where the different methods of learning throughout the course lessons aim to keep everyone fully engaged. Florence agrees, “The group has worked really well together. We have championed each other to progress and ensure that we are prepared for the recorded tests that we did in pairs. The tutor, Sarah set out very clear instructions and examples in each lesson. She is very patient and is able to deliver the lesson to all who have varying learning abilities in the group effortlessly. Having a tutor who is professional and friendly made this easier – but she made learning fun which is even better!”

We take great pride in our tutors and clearly Florence’s tutor Sarah upholds the qualities we old dear. “Sarah has been outstanding throughout the whole delivery, always willing to offer additional support and delivering instructions very comprehensively. She clearly has a wealth of knowledge and experience, as well as a passion for sign. Her passion is infectious and motivating!”

Florence concludes, “I have been fortunate to have already used my learning so far in a real-life setting and hope that I can further my learning to extend my sign vocabulary. I have been sharing what I'm learning with colleagues, friends and family and they have been very impressed not only by how I’ve described the course to them, but what I have learned and how I have retained. I am sure this has helped with memory issues encountered since my stroke.”

“I have thoroughly enjoyed the course; it has improved my confidence and my ability to communicate with everyone - I recommend it to everyone!”

If you would like to follow in Florence’s footsteps, why not ‘sign-up’ and join a British Sign Language class today - take a look at our current courses here.

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