Radio Inspire

How To Learn Sign Language

Learning to SIGN feat. Liam O’Dell

Hello. Right today I’m doing something a little bit
different. I like doing different things. I’m doing uh…I’m getting into the habit
of doing different things, and today I’m joined by Liam. Hello. Liam and I met at Summer in the City. See? I’m annoyed I didn’t wear my t-shirt. Well you’ve just ruined the video haven’t you? Yeah. Yeah that’s kind of it. Me and Liam started chatting. Liam is mildly deaf. Yeah that’d be right. And he wears hearing aids and all that. He started talking to me about sign language. Specifically British Sign Language or BSL. Very cleverly abbreviated! Yes. And he was talking to me about it and being
clearly very passionate about it. And I thought it would be an amazing thing
to put into a video and maybe give you guys some information about it and just let you
know what it’s about because I don’t know too much about it so I’m gonna learn, you’re
gonna learn and it should be fun, we’re gonna make it fun. Edu-tainment is what you called it. Okay so Liam, what is British Sign Language? So people who are deaf and don’t talk face-to-face
like this orally, they tend to use a more visual descriptive language that’s [shown]
through the form of hands. And how they’re formed, how they’re shaped
and how they’re put together is how they then communicate. How old is it? Do you know how old it is? Oh wow. We have an encyclopaedia about it as well
if we need any information. Yeah £30 well spent! I think the 18th century. I don’t know the exact rules of it. There are different myths and beliefs about
who kind of came up with the idea. It’s very kind of mysterious. Oooohhhooohhh (ghost noise). Specifically you know British Sign Language. There’s also American Sign Language or ‘ASL’. Is there much of a difference between the
two? As far as I’m aware, I’m not really an expert
but it seems to be that American Sign Language is mostly used with one hand. Oh just one hand? Just one hand, whereas British Sign Language
would be very two-handed. Oh okay. Most of it…Like the alphabet for example
is all on one hand, it’s very complex. But are there loads of different forms? Oh yes, there’s International Sign Language
which is… ISL? I think it’s ISL. So it’s global. Oh yeah. Oh well of course it is. There’s like the wider community across the
whole of the World and then there’s different countries which have their own way of communicating. It’s already…I mean this information is
kind of like obvious but I’ve never really thought enough about it, obviously because
I’m not deaf so like…But that’s what people appreciate, deaf people appreciate people
finding out more about it. Which is why I wanted to make this video,
because even though it may not necessarily affect me, there may be some people watching
this who it may affect or could benefit from learning about it in some way and that’s what
I wanna do on this channel you see? I want to teach, I want to learn, I want to
help educate…whilst having fun! But no, appreciate you taking the time to
make this video with me. Okay I think it’s time for me to learn some
stuff. Shall we start basic? Shall we start with the alphabet? Yes, that’s always a good place to start. It’s relatively simple. Okay lemme just *clicks fingers and knuckles*
You ready? I’m ready! A great way to start is to remember that the
vowels start with the five fingers. So A, E,I,O,U. So ‘A’ is like that. So just tap to A. ‘B’ is…I like to think
‘B’ is like binoculars. So kind of like…you just hold it together
like that. ‘A’…’B’ ‘C’ ….See? ‘D’ is like…with the other hand now so that’s
like a ‘C’ when you look at it and then ‘D’ It’s important to see how if I was signing
to you that could see it the way that they see it. So obviously, that doesn’t look like a ‘D’
to you but to them it does. ‘E’ is the second one on here. ‘F’ is like you’re doing the peace sign but
then you put them together and then cross them over. Then some of them are movements so ‘G’ is
that. I think of it as ‘One potato, two potato’
YEAH! I feel like I’m in school again! GGGGGGG! And then ‘H’ kind of follows on from that,
it’s like you’re brushing something off your hand. That’s ‘H’ Yeah! ‘I’ obviously is the next vowel in the middle. So ‘I’. ‘J’ is from the ‘I’ but it curls round to
the ‘A’. ‘K’ I always struggled with this one. Oh I don’t like that! It’s just weird, but you put it together with
that and that’s ‘K’. And then you have ‘L’ ‘M’ and ‘N’ which are
all very similar but how it works is it depends on…when you write the letter l, m or n in
lower case, it’s how many lines that they use. So ‘l’ is one line, so you put that on your
hand like that. That’s ‘l’ because it’s one line. Cool. ‘m’ has three lines, so you go three. And then ‘n’ has two lines so you put ‘n’. I mean that makes sense! Yeah, I agree with that concept! So ‘L’ ‘M’ ‘N’….’O’? That would have been good! Oh no! It’s ‘O’ It’s ‘O’ yeah! Ahhh! I’m LEARNING! You’re learning! ‘P’ is like you’re bringing the ‘D’ up. Oh I see it’s like a little pinch on the finger
tip! ‘Q’ is like if you take those two apart and
then you hook that round like that…which…you’ve got to be careful how you describe that, because…YEAH
that’s dangerous! ‘Q’ Stop it! ‘Q’! Then if you’ve got that hook and you put it
on your hand like that, that’s ‘R’. ‘S’ and I think Carrie will like this one
because it’s like pinkies! Aww she will like that one! That’s ‘S’ That’s cool. Yep. ‘T’ is like you’re doing ‘L’ but you’re dragging
it out and your pointing it at the little bone that’s here. If you feel it there’s like a little dip. That’s ‘T’ ‘U’ if you know what the vowels are, should
be there. Now ‘N’ and ‘V’ are very similar, so you have
to be careful. ‘V’ is when you take the ‘N’ but you bridge
it out so it’s like a peace symbol and then that’s ‘V’. ‘W’ is another movement. You do it like that. So it’s kind like…TOGETHER. It’s like YES. And then ‘Y’ is like if you imagine…OH HANG
ON, we haven’t done ‘X’! This is embarrassing. Missing out a letter of the alphabet! LIAM! Nevermind, nevermind! See, what if I went away today and I didn’t
know what ‘X’ was? You talk about your time at the hospital saying
you had an X-ray and you’re sitting there going “Oh God, what was it?!” Okay..what’s ‘X’. Oh that’s great because you can edit out that
bit! I’m not gonna edit out that bit. DAMN YOU! So ‘X’ is nice and simple. It’s just crossing it over like that. ‘X’. Cool. NOW we’ll get on to ‘Y’! Right so if you remember the two pointy part
of ‘Y’ it’s like that. So like you’re doing a tick, but then you
show them your hand like that and you move it down like that to form the line in the
middle. And ‘Z’…Nice way to remember ‘Z’ is like
you’re doing a time-out. Like if you’re fed up with someone you’re
like “I’m done, time-out”. ‘Z’ That’s it. I thought that would be ‘T’. That’s actually the sign for important. Oh really? Yeah so you would say That’s “Really Important”
So that’s the alphabet! That is the alphabet in BSL. Okay so if I was to spell my name, it would
be. ‘P’ Yes! the little pinch of the finger. ‘E’ Oh, it’s the second one, the second vowel. Oh yeah, of course the thumb is a part of
it. ‘P’ ‘E’. Wait…’T’?? Close. You point to it. ‘T’, ‘E’. Easy. Woooo! And, interesting fact, this is something interesting. In the deaf community, because they can’t
hear applause, It’s like jazz hands, it’s amazing. When people find something they want to applaud
they do that. I’ve heard about that, I think I have heard
that fact. So if you see people doing that..join in! It’s amazing! We do jazz hands, it’s amazing! What’s interesting as well is that obviously
if someone was to meet you and they were deaf and you got talking, first of all they’d sign
your name ‘Pete’ like that, but then after time, depending on your personality they’ll
assign you a ‘sign name’ which is pretty cool. Oh really? How it works for me is that I have friends
where because it would obviously be annoying every time they’d meet me to have to go like
that and sign it out like that. *huffs* P, E, T, E *holds up middle finger*
They give you a sign that’s something to do with your personality or one of your biggest
interests. Cool! So my sign name is Liam which is the sign
for ‘Book’. That is wonderful. So it’s weird because it depends whose able
to give the sign name. I feel like you’d have more of a connection
than just your name because it’s like how you connect with these people. I really like that. I think that’s definitely one thing that sign
language has over normal spoken language. Oh yeah. That’s my favourite fact so far. Because it is like a whole, foreign world
to me, like it literally is another language. It’s started to make the cogs in my brain
turn and go “That’s how [that works]” But it’s just cool to know. It’s cool to experience something new and
sort of broaden your awareness to know that this stuff exists and it’s a really cool thing. When I was first practising, the great thing
is that everyone that knows sign language is so friendly. You see different communities as well, of
people, and it’s so funny. I’ve met people signing on the bus somewhere
out in general and it’s like “Oh my word, you know [sign language] as well!” We start talking. And honestly, obviously we’re not saying you
must learn it, as you said, but if you see someone and you’ve learnt something from this
video and you wanna go up and speak to them, I guarantee you most people will be like “That’s
awesome that you’re learning!” They’re really welcoming of it? Yeah! That’s given me goosebumps, hearing about
that kind of connection between two potentially total strangers meeting and bonding over that. Yeah. If you respect the language and you show that
real passion to learn, that means the world to us. The fact that you wanna communicate and break
down that language barrier. It’s amazing. Awesome. That kind of feels like a good place to end
it. I feel really warm after this video, not like
“phew” warm. As in, in my heart. I feel like I’ve learned something new and
I feel like we’ve connected a lot and I’ve learned something that’s very important to
you and hopefully you guys have learned something from this as well. Liam’s been talking to me about Closed Captions
(hello!) on my videos and that’s not something I’ve really thought about much but it’s something
that I’m definitely gonna look into now. I’m gonna put a few links in the description
about information to do with sign language. About BSL and ASL and just sign language in
general. If you’re interested in it, you can go and
have a look. Liam’s links will be in the description as
well. Dude, thank you for being here. Thank you for having me! Thank you, it’s been awesome. It’s been a lovely, lovely afternoon. Alright, hope you guys have enjoyed this. See you soon. Love you lots! Bye! BYEEE!!!

100 Replies to “Learning to SIGN feat. Liam O’Dell”

  • my old college friend was deaf and I made an effort to try sign things to talk with her and when it was hard to understand I bought a book so we could right down what we mean

  • This is such a wonderful video. So interesting to watch. Totally inspired me to learn BSL now. Thank you both 🙂

  • This was really interesting! I'm definitely going to join in on the jazz hands if I see someone doing it instead of applauding, haha 😀

  • from the look of things BSL and Auslan alphabets are the same. i don't really know much but I find it very interesting

  • Lovely video, Pete. I've just started learning BSL because my nephew's dad is deaf and my mum learnt from a young age. Can't wait to be able to use it fluently 😊

  • I love sign language and it's one of my lifelong dreams to actually learn Swedish Sign Language (svenskt teckenspråk) and maybe to become a translator. My mom introduced me to signing because she works with children who have language disorders and one way to help is by using some signs and it's called TAKK (tecken som alternativ och kompletterande kommunikation). Really fun and important stuff!

  • Glad you guys are enjoying the video!

    Just so you know I have now made it so that you guys can add Closed Captions if you want to! I will be adding them on my videos when I have time but feel free to add what you can!


  • i love this video, i'm a fully hearing person but i am plannning on getting a degree in sign and interpritation when i go to uni, and love seeing the fact that people are sharing more and more about deaf culture online

  • just found out the British Sign Language is very similar to New Zealand Sign Language, just with the alphabet they are so similar

  • Im learning ASL right now and its so different… like H in BSL is good or nice in ASL. I find the differences so fascinating!! Also ASL didn't originate from BSL, but French SL

  • I remember learning the BSL alphabet as a Brownie and now as a nurse, I (probably tediously) am able to spell out to my deaf patients what I am going to do. This was a great refresher. More please Pete and Liam!

  • Interesting your BSL alphabet is the same as New Zealand SL alphabet…or at least as far as i am aware, its been about 10years since i learnt it back at school!

  • Wow! The BSL alphabet is so weird, coming from someone who knows a bit of ASL. it's offered as a language at my high school, it's a super fun class.

  • This was really lovely to see! One thing I wanted to add, that Liam didn't mention, is that BSL actually has regional differences, so depending where in Britain you learn, they sign slightly differently! The letters are generally the same, but even the numbers are different, so when you learn BSL formally you actually learn multiple signs for some things!

  • Thank you so much for this vid – unbelievably touched that there's an intersection with my favourite youtubers and the Deaf community. It's easy to feel a bit peripheral to mainstream culture sometimes, so it's hitting me in the feels that there's this hand reaching out to us!
    I agree with the chaps suggesting community closed captioning – youtube auto caption is getting so much better, but it has its funny moments where it suddenly captions odd thangz which is v funny sometimes but v odd other times.
    Much Deaf love x

  • My mum knows sign language, it's Irish Sign Language which is similar to ASL except there's a few small differences. When I was younger my mum's friend's daughter who's deaf and used to come to our house every week. She was a few years older than me but I remember that we both loved watching High School Musical together. I don't know that much sign language, I only know a small bit of the alphabet but after watching this video I want to learn more! 🙂

  • Oh wow! I'm stuying German Sign Language. Amazing to see the differences. And I didn't know that the BSL has it's own alphabet! We use the one handed alphabet.

  • My parents are deaf so i've been brought up with BSL and it's a truly beautiful language! Also, what Liam says is true, if you know sign language and you see someone else signing, if you approach them I can guarantee you have a new friend! I was in Florida with my family one year and my mum spotted a man signing (ASL) and they both just started talking all about where they were from and who they were…absolutely magic! I enourage a lot of you tubers to close caption their videos it becomes so much more inclusive that way! Loved the video and glad you seem so eager to learn! x

  • This was really cool to watch! I'm learning ASL and it's interesting to see such vast differences even in name signs! So cool

  • This was great! Really enjoyed! My brother is deaf and we use Irish sign language! We were younger it was like having our own private language which is pretty cool!

  • This is so interesting! I never imagined ASL and BSL would be soo different! But of course that makes sense. Thanks, Pete!

  • wowww that was so different from the asl alphabet, that is so cool! I never thought of it being different, it feels obvious now though.

  • That's so cool! In Brazilian sign language the sign has to do with the physical appearance and it must be given to you by a person in the deaf community…

  • When I was in elementary school, we used some of the ASL letters when we raised our hands in class so the teacher didn't call on someone, thinking they had the answer to the question they had just asked, just for the student to say they need to use the restroom or had a question of their own. We raised the sign for R (index and middle fingers crossed) if we needed to use the restroom and I (pinky finger raised) if we had a question. Having watched this video, I think it's pretty interesting to see how different the ASL and BSL alphabets were; I expected them to be pretty similar, considering how similar spoken British English and American English are, but they're really different!

  • Pete this makes me a happy human !! I'm doing a degree on making theatre inclusive to everyone so deaf blind anything and it's just so great that awareness is being spread about bsl and sign language xx

  • I'm studying BSL at college. I'm doing my Level 1 course, and I have my 1st exam (of this course) in December. I did Intro to BSL earlier on this year. It's really fun. I started learning cause I've had problems with my hearing since I was really young, and I thought it would be interesting to learn. I was right.

  • As someone who is currently learning Auslan (Australian Sign Language), I found this video very interesting.
    I didn't realise that Auslan and BSL were similar. The alphabet is exactly the same. 🙂

  • BSL alphabet is sooooo different from the ASL alphabet. I never knew there would be such a huge difference. This was an interesting video, definitely gives you a whole new perspective.

  • This is a really nice video! At the end I was using jazz hands(as applause) I tried to sign my name immediately after I finished watching the video… I lost it at h…

  • My mum taught me the alphabet when I was younger and it's stayed with me ever since even tho my hearing is fine. I work in a nursery and we try and teach the children little gestures to communicate with us if they are still learning to speak. It's brilliant!

  • Before watching this video I only knew some words or habits in ASL and the Dutch sign language (DSL??). For anyone who's interested in ASL you could watch Switched at Birth. It's a show with some of the main cast being deaf. I have found it very interesting because it also educates about what being deaf can mean to a person. The main character wants to become the first deaf doctor for example and that has its difficulties. They also have an episode where everything is done in sign language.

  • I really want to learn! My mum is profoundly deaf, and its been getting worse lately, she has hearing aids but they seem to keep malfunctioning, and one day she might lose her hearing completely.

  • I really want to learn sign language!! It's awesome! I've been planning on going to sign classes for a while and now you do this video, which made want to learn even more! 🙂 lots of love from Catalonia!

  • I have to recommend Rikki Poynter's videos here. She doesn't sign many yet because she's still learning asl, but she advocates for CC and has lots of incredible videos about deaf culture and the deaf community.

  • Pete, you have gone above and beyond the 'Standard' youtube videos. I use Youtube as a learning platform for not only make up and fashion tips but as an educational tool to broaden my knowledge. I work with children and have a very basic level of using Makaton/baby sign with the babies to get their needs across without them having the actual words. I love that you have reached out within your own community to broaden your knowledge, i would love to see more videos like this. Well Done and a great video to watch 🙂

  • I've been wanting to learn sign language for years because I find it so fascinating but classes are expensive and don't take place anywhere near where I live. I did learn the alphabet, colours, some foods, times of day and phrases online though. Signing songs is interesting to watch and learn 😀

  • yes yes yes. I don't know sign language very well but I've been wanting to properly learn it for a year now. I'm pretty passionate about it. image every single person knowing it! it'll change the world. We'll done Pete for the edutainment video 🙂

  • I'm really happy you made this video Pete! I've been learning BSL for about a year now and my friend is fluent in ASL! She's so passionate about it and hopefully next year it will be a language option at our school! I'm trying to get more people to understand all the different types of sign language and now I think I'm going to start learning LSF (french sign language) I really hope this video shows more people about the world of sign language! Love you Pete!! xx 🙂

  • great video Pete! I'm from Spain and my cousin decided to learn the Spanish one a couple years ago, and she had an amazing time, it's awesome seeing her signing!

  • Holy cow, the BSL alphabet seems so much more complicated than the ASL alphabet! I wonder if the rest of the language is just as different, because I know there are certain signs for words that use the letter that word starts with. This was certainly interesting. I honestly wish I had studied more ASL than just the one semester I took in college.

  • This was such a cool video to see. Bravo Liam! Bravo Pete!
    I've been learning a little bit of ASL, and the sign for "O" is making a circle with your fingers, but I love the '5 vowels – 5 fingers' for vowels in BSL, that's really cool!
    A friend of my mum's told me a story about being given a sign your name. She's an early childhood educator and foster parent, and one of her daughters, who is very young, is deaf and they use sign language in the house. They were out shopping and an older lady saw them signing, and started talking to them, and she actually gave the little girl a sign for her name!

  • My sister is deaf and mute and my sign name is sister because I was one of the older ones within the deaf community that we are involved in. I love that you have done this Pete this is the kind of thing that I try to do. This should be more of a common thing. So for this, I thank you 😀 x

  • I think it's great that you made this video. I love this. I learned something and I feel all warm inside because you and Liam have such an unique friendship and you can see that in this video. Now I want to learn sign language as well!

  • ASL is a lot more complicated and less literal. We also don't have as many motions as you. We usually stick with just the one thing and then it's done. We do the sign name thing and my sign name is a D on your heart( people think I'm very loving and caring). This is one of the most interesting videos I've watched. Thanks for sharing it.

  • Great video, you two. ASL is actually something that I want to learn when I begin a second language, it's up against Spanish and Cantonese. Spanish because it's the most integrated language, apart from English, so that would surely come in handy. Cantonese because an old friend of mine really got me into Asian history and culture, and ASL because it's a really unique and helpful language to know, and I feel like people who are deaf would appreciate it more in some ways because of the difference on how you learn it. Like, you never choose the language you first learn, but when it's because of your ethnicity or living arrangements, it's just normal. So, to me it feels like even though to deaf people it's totally normal, I would think that they would appreciate more people learning their language, if that makes any sense lol. But hey, 2-1 Sign Language, or 2-1-1, I guess xD

  • I'm a teacher working with hearing impaired children right now, this was sooo useful thank you! More videos like this would be amazing. 🙂

  • I'm doing a joint honours degree in BSL and I love it! It makes me so excited when I see other people signing and I'm so glad you're sharing this 😊👐

  • Love this video I studied BSL when I was at college and I used it in Cyprus signing to someone I met as well as using it when scuba diving. So good to see someone teaching whilst making it fun. good on you Pete

  • All I know of British sign language is the alphabet because my mum taught me when I was about 4. We used to spell what was wanted to eat and drink across cafes and stuff 🙂 this brings back memories

  • wow! I'm taking an ASL course right now and wow, the alphabet is so different! it's really interesting. thanks for the video Liam and Pete 🙂

  • This was very interesting to watch. I took a course on German Sign Language last semester and loved it so much.
    It was really stunning to see how different the alphabet in both languages is. In German you can for example sign all letters with just one hand and they're all really different from the British version. 😀
    I would love to see more of this. 😀

  • loved the video! you should definitely check out Deaf West's revival of Spring Awakening, maybe you could even make song covers with BSL someday 🙂

  • I am taking American Sign Language and the alphabet in ASL is very different from BSL. This was interesting to learn about BSL in general.

  • Wow! I had no idea ASL and BSL were so different. Some family of mine know ASL so I know a little bit. The alphabet is so different! Liam's right…all one hand.☺️

  • Inverting that the bsl alphabet is really similar to the nzsl. I didn't know that before watching this video but guess it makes sense since New Zealand was colony of Britain.

  • I've done ASL for years and years. I knew Britain had a different Sign Language but never knew it was THAT different! So amazing!

  • Nooo this was way too short! I could have watched this for at least an hour more. I'd love for you to make a series out of this, I'm very eager to learn sign language but I wouldn't know where to start and what the best pick would be (since I'm Dutch, and Dutch isn't really a world language, but then would it be wise to do ASL? BSL?)

    Also, I don't want to sound stupid or offend anyone, but can anyone tell be if deaf people are commonly bilingual or multilingual in sign-languages? Do they have a world-language like English that everyone knows? Since I'd love to learn BSL but if ASL is more widely known then maybe ASL would be more handy to learn.

  • This video is amazing! I've learnt so much!!
    Could we have a video on Makaton, that would be amazing!
    Thank you so so much! Xxx

  • There were two deaf ladies at my Slimming World group, and I remembered the BSL alphabet from learning it at Brownies (over 15 years ago!!) so I went over and spelt my name out to them. They were very excited and we were then able to make conversation – with a bit of patience on both sides! It's so great to be able to open up someone's world a little with just a few signs – I can imagine it can feel quite isolating sometimes for those who can't lip-read. Thanks for the video! Great idea Pete!

  • I find it interesting how ASL (American sign language) and BSL are pretty much completely different languages whereas when talking they both speak English just with different accents

  • As an ASL user I am laughing the entire way through the BSL alphabet, as some of them are ASL signs for other things. I lost it at "W". In ASL, that sign means "football" haha!

  • My brother is deaf so I've grown up learning ASL and never realized how many of the signs do only use one hand until you mentioned that (although a lot of signs do use both hands as well)! Does every sign in BSL use both hands?

  • we got taught the alphabet thing in primary and a little more that I dont remember. I recognise the alphabet in this video, makes sense that NZ would use BSL too.

  • I didn't realize that ASL & BSL were so different until I watched this video! I know a bit of ASL from school and it's been something I've always wanted to learn more about. Thanks you & Liam for teaching us a lil about BSL! 🙂

  • This was so interesting! All I really know of ASL is the alphabet so it was cool to see the differences just in that. It's so different!! I actually work with a deaf woman sometimes so I have been working on learning the basics. This was awesome, thanks Pete!

  • I cannot believe I missed this earlier. 🙁 This is a wonderful video; it’s a great one for introducing viewers to BSL. It’s helpful for me too as I’m restarting level 1 after I failed one module. Brilliant video, Pete and Liam. 🦋✨

  • Hello! It’s been a while since this video and I’ve learnt a fair bit since then and I’ve made a few mistakes in this. Sorry!

    First off, American Sign Language uses one hand for the alphabet – I should have been a bit clearer there!

    The second thing is that with fingerspelling and the letters that involve an action (so D, G, H, P, etc.), it should be your dominant hand making the movement. So for H, for example, if you’re right-handed it’ll be your right hand making the swiping motion. If you’re left-handed, then it’ll be your left!

    Thought I’d clarify some things… Sorry folks! But thanks for all the comments. Glad you all found this so interesting! ^__^

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