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British Sign Language exam success puts students top of the class

York St John Business School is celebrating a 100% pass rate in its latest Signature examination results in British Sign Language (BSL), putting it more than 20 percentage points above the UK average.

Signature is the recognised awarding body offering nationally accredited qualifications that cover the whole range of languages and communication methods used by deaf and deafblind people.

This success comes at a time when the Business School is experiencing ever increasing demand for sign language skills. Professor Angela Goddard, Head of Subject for Languages and Linguistics, says “BSL is like any language, including English, in that it can be an academic subject for study in its own right, as well as one that develops users’ skills.

“Undergraduates who join York St John’s English Language and Linguistics programme are particularly interested in BSL because they see it as an important skill to have in any future career in teaching or speech and language therapy. Equally, public health providers and local businesses recognise the need for communicating with clients and customers from the Deaf community”.

Business School Dean Jackie Mathers puts the outstanding pass rate achieved by the 65 students taking the latest six-module BSL course down to a combination of student commitment, inspirational teaching and high quality support.

She says that programme leader Amanda Smith, whose first language is BSL rather than English having been born deaf, delivers the course in a highly engaging way using numerous visual props which encourages students to learn from each other as well as qualified tutors.

“We’re absolutely thrilled with the latest results which are well deserved given the hard work that every student has put in over the last semester,” Jackie says. “Their achievement is made even more remarkable by the fact that they completed some of the modules in just a third of the time it would usually take. It’s also a testament to the efforts of the whole team here at the Business School, so I’d like to thank them for their crucial support.

On the York St John Business School BSL course, students can take the Level 1 and Level 2 Signature Certificates. Level 1 equips students with the ability to use sign language to communicate simple things such as the weather and directions and have simple conversations. Level 2 is more advanced, training students in the use of facial expressions, body language and multi-channel communication as well as and developing the ability to hold a seven minute signed conversation.

Due to student demand, the business school will run the Level 3 Certificate BSL course for the first time from September this year. In addition to the formal tuition on the BSL course, York St John University also holds a weekly ‘Sign Café’ where students can get together to gain additional practice.

Amanda continues to develop her BSL skills, too, and has recently built on her Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice by becoming a Teaching Fellow.

“BSL is like learning any other language in that you need to keep practising and enjoy what you’re doing,” says Amanda. “We try to teach with a great sense of humour and encourage a supportive learning environment where nobody is critical – I believe that’s the secret to the success of this course.”

Further information about the BSL courses available at York St John Business School is available by calling 01904 876915 or via email business.school@yorksj.ac.uk

Picture shows: Amanda Smith, BSL programme leader (far right) with students

For further press information please contact Karen Nixon at The Partners Group on T: 01904 610077 or E: karen@partners-group.co.uk or Amy Hall, PR & Communications Officer on T: 01904 876466 or E: a.hall@yorksj.ac.uk


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