Is it best to have a native BSL user and a hearing high level BSL user with experience in interpreting or communication support work ‘team teaching’ to improve BSL teaching practice?

British Sign Language is the language of the Deaf and belongs to the Deaf community. Therefore when it comes to teaching the language it is only right that a native BSL user should be the tutor. This would give the best approach both in teaching not only the language but the culture and deaf awareness as well.

This creates unique problems in teaching the language, particularly for beginners who really struggle if the tutor only uses BSL. It can also be difficult for the tutor in that they may struggle to understand the learners, a lot of Deaf BSL users cannot lip read and have low English skills. If the learners are not confident to try and bridge the communication gap and the tutor is not confident to attempt writing, miming or other communication techniques the class will not be successful.

A hearing tutor, although they may have good qualifications in BSL they will not have the background in Deaf culture and will undoubtedly speak more than sign which will hinder the learners progress. They will also not be able to give first hand knowledge of deafness or deaf awareness. They will however be able to communicate easily with the learners.