Sharing Her Signing Skills

Sharing Her Signing Skills

We chatted with Upper Sixth pupil Rachel, who has qualified as a sign language interpreter and is teaching girls in her house how to sign.

How long have you been using sign language?

I’ve been using it my whole life! There are people in my family who are deaf, and as a young child I actually learned to sign earlier than I learned to speak, because I found it so much easier. I started getting qualifications in 2020. I did a course with Doncaster University to be qualified in sign language, which means that now I can interpret at events. There’s Level 1, 2 and 3 qualifications, and so far I’ve done Level 1. I interpret weekly at a church service for people with special needs and disabilities, which is quite cool. They’re not all deaf, but they find it easier to communicate with hand gestures and actions than verbally. It’s a great way to make this event accessible to everyone.

what made you want to teach others around you how to sign?

When I mentioned in house that I know sign language, everyone was just super interested because it’s so different. We learn French and Spanish at school so everyone is aware of those languages, but no-one really thinks of sign language that often. It’s a different thing to learn how to do. It’s quite fun as well to do things like learn songs in sign language. The signs make sense, so it’s quite intuitive. People find it interesting to see the different signs and figure out why they are as they are.

what has the response been like from the girls in your house to you offering to teach them?

Loads of them have been really enthusiastic. Some people find it easier to pick up than others, but everyone really loved learning the alphabet because once you know all the letters, you can say any word. It takes a long time, but it feels like you’re getting far quickly because you can then say anything in sign language just from learning the alphabet. It’s rewarding and could be useful in the future too.

What do you find to be the most challenging thing with signing?

When I’m interpreting, I’m listening to what’s being said and then reproducing that, but it’s very challenging to have to to multitask like that, signing and talking at the same time. I speak a lot slower and do find it hard to do two things at once. It’s tough, but I’m getting there!

what’s your favourite sign?

Turtle, just because it looks like a turtle that’s swimming and it’s fun to do!

Back to all stories