It wasn't easy, but I'm finally able to say the alphabet fluently, without any mistakes! I've also cracked the days of the week, how to say hello and how to spell out my name. I can also ask a couple of basic, polite questions. Now there's no stopping me!
No, I'm not deaf, but I've decided to study sign language, which has always fascinated me. It's been on my list of "things to do" for a long time. I'm not saying that I'm going to become completely fluent, but I want to know enough for basic communication with a deaf person. What's prompted me to make a move on this? - the same thing that got me started on French back in 1994, when I was 26. I was on holiday and met some really nice people, but I couldn't talk to them. We could only smile and nod. I knew they were people I would click with, but there was no way of crossing the language barrier. I decided that I didn't want to be stuck with just one mode of communication for the rest of my life and so began to learn French ... not knowing then of course that it would totally consume me and I would eventually move here and settle for a French life!
I've often met deaf people and felt hopeless; again, there's just been that smiling and nodding. Now I will at least be able to say something. I'm learning British Sign Language (BSL), on my own at first, but I would like to do some kind of course as well. Don't forget that there are many different kinds of sign language, depending on where you live. At least 250,000 people use BSL, which was only recognised by the British government as an official language in 2003!
I love watching people sign with each other. I think there is such unique beauty in the movements and the expressions, and it's definitely something I want to experience. To see how signing can be just as powerful as the spoken word, take a look at this woman signing along to the song The Rose: (click twice on the play button)