Farewell Reading!

Finalist Geography student, Jack, shares his highs and lows of his time studying at the University of Reading…

After 3 years of hard work, turning up to every 9AM lecture (mostly), working on essays and reports in all hours and spending the occasional night dressed as something weird and wacky on a questionably sticky RUSU floor… my time at University is drawing to a close. Its been an emotional journey and somewhat of a rollercoaster but I wouldn’t change it for the World. As part of my reflections I’ve been looking back over some of my highs and lows of my time at University:

 

Highs

 

  • Field Trips – Some of my best memories at University come from the unbelievable field trips I was lucky enough to be able to go on. From climbing Mount Vesuvius to nearly sliding down a crevasse in Iceland trying to save an iPad… I’ve travelled the World with my friends and some truly amazing academic minds, advancing not only my knowledge but my character and personality, making me a much more well-rounded person.

 

  • Junction11 Radio – Those who know me personally know I literally cannot go anywhere without music, wherever I go, music follows. Junction11 Radio has given me a platform to share my love of music with a whole host of likeminded individuals as well as broadcast a show with one of my best friends out to the World across the internet (some people even enjoyed it! So much so, we won 2 awards for our work!). After university I’m planning to keep presenting on the radio back in London on hospital radio before hopefully progressing to a mainstream station.

 

www.junction11radio.co.uk

 

  • Campus – A definite high of university has been the opportunity to study in such a great location. I’ve really enjoyed being able to walk through the Harris Gardens and amazing wooded spaces this campus has to offer. Also, and most importantly, who doesn’t love seeing some goslings and cygnets in the lake?!?!

 

  • Meeting People – Finally, I’ve met some of the most remarkable people during my time at university who I know I’ll keep in contact with for the rest of my life. These people have inspired, pushed and stood by through thick and thin and I just want to say a massive thank you!

 

Lows

 

  • Pressure – The pressure at University can be intense. I think this is a low for me as I didn’t always deal with it in the best way and should definitely have made more use of the information and support RUSU has to offer and would urge everyone to have a look at the sessions on dealing with stress if finding it difficult to manage a heavy workload/pressures of university life.

 

https://student.reading.ac.uk/essentials/_support-and-wellbeing/counselling-and-wellbeing.aspx

 

  • Tonsillitis – Everyone’s body deals with stress differently, some people get shorter tempers, some withdraw, some don’t show it at all, me? I get Tonsillitis. Seriously, I had this at least once a term (which, because I couldn’t speak for a few days, some people looked forward to…). On a serious note, it’s really important to listen to your body not only at university but in life in general. Make sure you’re eating well, getting enough sleep, exercising and finding some time for you – it’s not easy but strike the right balance and you’ll be performing well, feeling great and acing life!

 

Plan for the future

 

After graduating I’m planning on having a week away with the family before starting work on the 16th July at Generation Change, a London Based charity striving to improve youth social action across the sector and ensuring charities are committed to continual learning and improvement.

But for now, all that’s left for me to say, is thank you and farewell Reading, its been a blast and an absolute honour!

 

Jack x

 

Reflecting on my time at uni

Finalist student, Alexander, shares his thoughts on his time at university…

“I’m now in my final week of being a student, so I thought I would share some of my reflections on my three years as a student here…
• The three years has gone by scarily quickly! I have always aimed to make the most of my time here, through attending careers events and Life Tools Talks, nearly all of which I have found helpful in one way or another. I can still remember helpful ‘nuggets’ from events I attended a long time ago! In my 1st year I completed the RED Award, which felt like a good achievement and I have put it on my C.V. It was a useful experience, as it motivated me to get stuck in and gain more knowledge, understanding and skills. The good thing about RED award is that you can tailor it you and do it at your own pace.

• My career plans have changed slightly since coming to university. I was unsure about what I wanted to do, but after a lot of thought, completing two careers modules, a placement, some networking, I have a much better idea. Uni is a good opportunity to think about and plan what you want to do next.

• It has been fantastic to meet a wide variety of people, from different backgrounds and walks of life. It doesn’t matter who you are, you will be accepted, as students at University are much more open-minded than they are at school! If you are finding it hard to settle in, or will be joining Reading Uni in September, check out the vast range of opportunities available here (including how to become a Student Communications Ambassador – which is the paid role myself and the other writers of this blog have).

• Hard work does pay off, but getting the work/life balance is important too. At uni my work ethic, determination and stamina have improved. At times it did feel like I was working almost non-stop (I’m sure you can all relate to that!), but on top of working hard I did have times when I played hard. I would sometimes get frustrated when my work/life balance wasn’t how I wanted it to be. I worked harder during my time at uni than I did at college and it has definitely reaped more rewards. I learnt to appreciate that getting the work/life balance is a challenge for everyone and will probably continue to be a challenge.

• Confidence in my abilities has grown. I came to uni unsure how far I would get, but willing and determined to give it a go.

• I’ve really enjoyed the independence and getting to know a new area. I have enjoyed Reading so much that I’m hoping to stay. The transport links and being close to London are what I love about Reading.

• I’ve loved studying on both campuses at Whiteknights and London Road. I think our campuses are a lot greener and more spacious than others… certainly compared to the ones I’ve visited. The Green Flag award has been well earned!

• Support from the Disability Advisory Service, RUSU and the Careers Service have been very useful and helped me to relax and be more confident.

Are you in your final year? What have you enjoyed, learnt or discovered at uni? Leave a comment below. If you are leaving uni, good luck for the future and if you’re staying at uni good luck for the rest of your course!”

How i’m making the most of my final term at uni

Theatre, arts and deaf studies student, Alexander, tells us about what he’ll be getting up to during the last few weeks of his time at the University of Reading…

We’re halfway through the summer term and for many of you (like me) this will be your final term here! You probably will have mixed feelings about this – I know I certainly do! My three years at Reading have whizzed by and I can’t believe it’s nearly over, but here is what I’m doing to make the most of my final term…

Careers prep. I have attended the Careers Centre a couple of times recently. The first was a 15 minute ‘CV clinic’ appointment, where I was given a number of useful hints and tips on improving my CV. The second was a 30-minute appointment to address questions and concerns I had regarding job-hunting and receive feedback on speculative letter recently written. I’ve also attended a ‘finalist careers hacks’ event, which was also really useful. I recently attended the Reading Job Fair, where I spoke to a number of employers, had a number of interesting conversations and received further feedback on my CV with a careers adviser. I have started to apply for jobs and I’m finding it an interesting process and have come across some exciting roles.

Volunteering. I’ve always loved volunteering in a variety of establishments. You get to meet new people, gain new skills and learn a lot. It’s always really rewarding knowing that you’re helping a company or charity, and it looks great on your CV Currently I’m volunteering for the Rising Sun Arts Centre and Christians Against Poverty at Network Vineyard Church. The great thing about volunteering is you usually only need to give up a few hours on an ad hoc basis. If you have some free time this term, find out what opportunities are available across Reading clicking here.

Preparing for graduation. I’ve registered to graduate and booked tickets and now waiting for further details. I’m very excited to graduate on 4th July (but not liking the uncertainty of what’s going to come next!!) Did you know that all students graduating this year (July and December) will be eligible for free gown hire?!

Returning library loans. Time to take back all those books I’ve hoarded over the last few weeks and make sue I’ve paid any fines incurred! Click here for info on returning books.

Reflecting on my time at Reading. I have been reflecting on my time here, and thinking about how much I have learnt and developed, personally and academically – which is a real confidence booster and helps with career prep.

If you have any ideas, hints or tips, post a comment below. I hope you have an enjoyable and productive term and also get a chance to relax at times. Good luck!

Lucy’s 2 Week Placement at the Daily Mirror

Italian Studies student, Lucy, tells us about her recent editing and marketing placement at the Daily Mirror…

Day One

On the first day of my placement I was incredibly excited yet nervous about it all. I had looked up where the offices are in Canary Wharf and realised that they are in One Canada Square which is the second tallest building in the UK and the big building they often fly past on the Apprentice! At first I had to go over all the boring stuff like health and safety, but afterwards I got to go into the offices. The whole floor was open plan with row upon row of shiny Macs. As we were on the 22nd floor, the view was stunning. I have no idea how people manage to get any work done with a view like that!

 

My first task was to read over the papers that morning so that I could be aware of what was going on but also get used to the style and tone of the Daily Mirror. My next task was to do some research for an article for the next day on how Easter is becoming the new Christmas. I had to find products with a direct link to Christmas, for example Easter crackers. I then had to write a small piece about Easter becoming a more celebrated festival. It was published the next day in the paper. They had cut what I had written down massively and my name was not on it, but I have taken credit for it!

 

Day Two

Again, I read the papers until I went into Daily Conference (this is where all of the editors decide which stories will make it into the paper). This was very interesting as I learnt about some stories that no one would have known about, and it felt very strange the next day when I was watching the review of the papers in the morning, whilst already knowing what would be in there! I was given my first task of the day a while after the conference had finished. I would be helping another team write an article about the difference between low fat and standard food products. Despite asking if I could help throughout the day, there were several periods where I hadn’t got anything to do. I managed to plan the whole of my Italian oral exam during this day, so I could say that I was productive, just not in the way that I was expecting. I spent a lot of time thinking about how my peers in smaller companies were probably getting way more experience than I.

 

Day Three

On day three, I felt worried that I would spend my day doing not very much when I could have been finishing assignments. However, when I walked into the office and spoke to my supervisor she told me that she had managed to secure me a day with the Fashion department. Luckily the fashion team kept me busy throughout the day. I first had to look for leather trousers to accompany an article about how they had come back into fashion. This was perfect – I was online shopping (one of my favourite pastimes) for work! I then had to make a mood board for the shoot they would be doing the next day which featured jeans and blazers. I spent the day doing odd jobs like this but I enjoyed it because I felt valued for the first time since I arrived at The Mirror. At the end of the day I was asked if I would like to attend the shoot the next day – how exciting!

 

Day Four

The shoot was at Holborn Studios in Shoreditch. I helped with all of the basic jobs such as steaming the clothes and writing down all of the different combinations of garments. It was very interesting watching how Didi and Amber (the fashion editors) put outfits together so easily. I had a really good day at the shoot – the only downside was the fact that by the end of it I wanted to buy so many more clothes! The next day was Good Friday and editorial still work on a bank holiday but I was told that they did not need me in the office, so I had a lie in to look forward to!

 

Day Five

After a relaxing Easter weekend, I prepared myself for a new week in the marketing department. I felt relieved when I received a friendly welcome from marketing and was given a task straight away. I had to look through the competitor papers and see what offers and promotions they were doing over the Easter Weekend, for example the Daily Mail were giving away a free motorhome. My next task was to come up ideas that The Mirror could do to advertise the new show ‘Judge Romesh’ which is a “micky take” of shows such as ‘Judge Judy’ with the comedian Romesh Ranganathan. In the afternoon I was with the Insight team. The Insight team do an array of things, amongst them include sending out surveys to the audience of The Mirror in order to better understand them, rebranding other publications under Trinity Mirror, giving feedback to brands on how their advertisement has performed in the paper and how they win pitches to convince brands that advertising with them is worth it. My afternoon here was particularly interesting. To finish my day, I wrote a piece about the opportunity to win a brand new TV in conjunction with a new TV show ‘Deep State’ which FOX have been heavily advertising in The Mirror.

 

Day Six

The races at Aintree present The Mirror with a good chance to promote their publication, because they can offer free bets which then makes more people buy the paper. Paddypower were offering free bets on each day of the Aintree festival and so I had to write a short and chatty piece about the offers. Another task I had was to come up with ideas for a campaign. Tesco are planning on doing a campaign with The Mirror about body confidence and positivity with the end goal for people to buy F&F bikinis. I came up with many ideas on how to advertise this, for example a spread in the paper of normal people advertising the bikinis instead of a photoshopped models.

 

Day Seven

Today I went to a meeting called T&T (I’m still not entirely sure what this stands for!) which basically acts as a bridge between editorial and other departments such as marketing, sales etc. They hold this meeting to discuss what each department is doing and so that editorial have an idea of this too. The departments are on different floors and so it becomes easy for them to become separate. Today we also did a wider brainstorm for the Tesco campaign. The main idea that came out of the meeting was to do an ‘anti-page 3’ with normal people in normal holiday destinations advertising the bikinis. In the afternoon I went along to a meeting at the UKTV offices in Hammersmith about a new program featuring Emma Willis. The offices were very cool – they had a balcony and ping pong tables in the office and it had a warehouse vibe going on, as if you were in Shoreditch! The meeting only lasted fifteen minutes so we spent more time travelling than talking! Nonetheless we got back to the office with time to do other things. I spent the rest of the day doing some analysis of the competitor papers’ tablet editions and what each of them offered.

 

Day Eight

I felt sad that it was my last day because I really enjoyed my time with the marketing department. I spent my morning doing edits on advertisement for the program Deep State, before I got to go into the Sunday Mirror conference. The people in the department were so lovely and everyone was really sociable which contributed to it being such a nice working environment. At about 5 o clock each Friday they have a “treats trolley” that is wheeled around with treats such as crisps, sweets and donuts for everyone to enjoy. They also have drinks in the office after 5.30 where everyone can catch up and discuss their achievements of the week. All of the above contributed to the fantastic week with the marketing team and I learned a lot. I have also discovered that I would like to go into marketing once I have graduated. I was very chuffed when the marketing director asked me if I would like to go back do to a paid summer placement with them and it massively boosted my confidence to know that the team thought I had worked hard and done well.

 

Overall, whilst I didn’t have a great first week, my second week more than made up for this. I now feel like I have direction and something to work towards. It has given me a drive I have never felt before to go out and get my dream job and this is something I really value.

 

Revision Tips for the Exam Period

HISTORY STUDENT, BEN, SHARES HIS TOP TIPS ON STAYING FOCUSED WITH REVISION…

As the exam period draws ever closer, the need to revise becomes more and more urgent. But as any student will tell you, forcing yourself to revise is no easy task, as the abundance of free time the study period offers most students leads to a high risk of distraction. But there are definitely ways you can keep focused on studying!

 

Separate your work space from the place you relax

It’s hard to convince yourself to do work when you’re in a room or place you’re used to sleeping or having fun in, so putting yourself in a new environment is a great motivator for ensuring you get your work done. For some, this can be as simple as moving into a different room in the house, but there are also numerous study spaces open on campus if you prefer a starker change, such as the temporary library in URS or the Students’ Union building.

 

Take focus breaks

Remaining engaged with your work is a struggle of its own. Everybody has their own individual tolerance for being able to focus, and figuring out how long that period is – 15, 20, 30 minutes, or higher – is vital to knowing when to take a small five minute break and compose yourself before returning to your work. During this break, it’s also important to not do anything that will distract yourself longer than your allotted break time. Do something short, sweet, with a strict time limit, to avoid trailing off from your work.

 

These are two small tips, but both go a long way as far as to ensuring you have a solid revision schedule which keeps you on top of your work and focusing for as long as you need to. It also helps to be healthy, so your mind remains clear and open to new information, so be sure to eat and drink water regularly, as well as not to study too late into the night.

 

Further information can be found on Reading essentials:

 

 

 

Be sure to keep all this in mind during the exam period. Good luck!

 

 

8 Tips On Relaxing And Unwinding This Term

THEATRE ARTS, EDUCATION & DEAF STUDIES STUDENT, ALEXANDER, SHARES HIS TOP TIPS ON STAYING RELAXED THROUGHOUT THE EXAM PERIOD…

It’s the Summer term – which marks the start of a busy period for a lot of students, however don’t fret because you can get through this! Sometimes it can feel like you have to be working non-stop, but the work/life balance is key. National Relaxation Day is on 15th August, but everyday should have a period of relaxation, even on the really hectic days! Here are some ideas to help you rejuvenate…

 

  • Release any tension that may be in your body. Stretching, yoga and pilates can be beneficial. Classes for these (and Yogalates) are available at the uni SportsPark.

 

  • Researchers at the University of Essex have discovered the 15- 20 minute walk at lunchtime can improve well-being and sleep, which as we all know are important areas to look after when we’re studying hard.

 

  • To do lists and done lists. Some people hate to do lists, or may dismiss the idea, but it can have great benefits! It can help you feel less stressed and more focused. A ‘done list’ can improve your mood and make you feel a sense of achievement – I’ve certainly found both very useful.

 

  • Adult colouring books. Most of you are probably aware of the recent trend of adult colouring books. I have found colouring really relaxing and a useful activity to do before bed. I want to encourage the men among you, that it’s totally fine for a guy to enjoying colouring and arts and crafts in general! Even if you think you’re not very creative or skilled with arty things, give it a go. You can buy a variety of colouring and craft materials cheaply from The Works.

 

  • Listen to music. I certainly find listening to music relaxes me, especially when it’s one of my favourite songs and I know it well and enjoy the lyrics and rhythm.

 

  • Tea and a chat. Sometimes just a quick catch up with your bestie over a cuppa is a great way to have a break from studying I usually go to Coffee Under Pressure (C.U.P) in town, tucked away next to Reading Minster, on St Mary’s Butts. Highly recommended!

 

  • Eating foods that contain tryptophan, for example nuts and cheese. Check out this article that explains more, and gives other tips for relaxing.

 

  • Try to go as technology free as possible. This is a tricky one, and one that I definitely haven’t cracked yet, but I want to! It’s not just eye-strain, but screens are so stimulating and our devices are full of distracting apps, that’s hard to switch off. Of course, there is nothing wrong with sitting down and watching something to relax, but sometimes it can be good to try tech free relaxation.

 

Obviously we all relax in different ways, and what works for one person might not work for another. Some of us find it easier to relax alone and others prefer to relax with others. This could vary from day to day and I believe that trying to get a balance, between time alone and with others is important. If you want more information and advice on relaxing and unwinding, check out the Life Tools talks at the University. If you have tips, post a comment below! Good luck for this term and I hope it will be a happy and health one for you!

Marrow Night at RUSU

FRENCH STUDIES STUDENT, KATHERINE, TELLS US MORE ABOUT THE ‘MARROW NIGHT’ RECENTLY HELD AT RUSU…

On Monday the 26th of February I attended the ‘Find Your Match’ event by RUSU’s Marrow Society in Monterey Lounge. I hadn’t heard of this society until I saw the posters for the event around campus and decided it sounded like a good cause and a fun night – I wasn’t wrong! Here’s the societies page on RUSU: https://www.rusu.co.uk/societies/13850/

 

Marrow society work alongside Anthony Nolan charity to help save lives of people diagnosed with blood cancer, and the night raised money for the cause as well as a huge amount of awareness.

 

The evening comprised of a lucky dip, raffle, live music and the chance to sign onto the sickle cell donor list. I was very apprehensive to do this, but after hearing that I could potentially save someone’s life by spending a day of mine donating blood or bone marrow, it was an easy decision and I’m now on the donor list. All I had to do was take a cotton swab of the inside of my cheek, fill out a few details and take a free pen, some badges and a Frisbee.

 

My favourite part of the evening was the raffle that the Society had organised. All of the prizes had been donated and included things such as paintballing vouchers, free Nando’s meals as well as bottles of alcohol and goodies from Tiger. Naturally I spent all the money I had in my purse on more raffle tickets and unsurprisingly I won nothing, though did get a lot of enjoyment out of watching the raffle be drawn.

 

I’m so pleased I found out about a charity I wasn’t aware of but now support in quite an unusual way! If you want to find out more about this charity, or many of the other charitable societies at RUSU check out this link: https://www.rusu.co.uk/activities/giag/#SearchClubs

Easter Plans

3RD YEAR PSYCHOLOGY STUDENT, KATE, TELLS US WHAT SHE IS DOING OVER THE EASTER HOLIDAYS AND HOW TO BALANCE STUDYING, SOCIAL LIFE AND HOLIDAYS…

Easter Holidays are the 23rd March- 18th April, just in case you don’t know and are not counting down the days, you have three weeks off. I am going to tell you about what I am doing and how to make the most of your break:

 

Skiing Holiday:

Les Arcs, France skiing for a 1 Week.

Skiing means I get hot chocolates constantly and some exercise, but I also have to balance my university assignments. Tricky I know, but planning is key. Ski from 9:30-4:30 and then before and after dinner, plan in to do assignments – Done.

Exercise which is fun like skiing will benefit your mental wellbeing as endorphins get released, which boosts your mood! You don’t just have to go skiing to boost your mood, any form of exercise is great!

 

Assignments:

So unusually I have no exams – lucky I know. However I have lots and lots of assignments which make up 40% of my degree. Finding the time to do these can seem hard when you have other commitments like holidays, trips, family events and catching up with friends. My main piece of advice is: timetable and plan. When you have one in place everything seems so much more achievable and relaxed. For example:

Wednesday 4th April:
Note: use the Pomodoro technique in the hour slots.

10:00 Assignment 1
11:00 Assignment 1
12:00 Lunch Break 1 hour.
1:00 Assignment 2
2:00 Assignment 2
2:30 Walk to town
3:00 Catch up with friend for coffee
4:30 Walk Home
5:00 Evaluate what assignment needs more work and get settled down.
5:15 Assignment which needs more work
6:15 Assignment which needs more work
7:15 Get ready for dinner
8:00 Out for Dinner with Family
10:30 Organise work area for next day

 

I have even given you a link straight to an online timer: https://tomato-timer.com/ but you can also use your phone timer if you prefer.

 

London Trips:

I am going to London Zoo and Bounce which is a ping pong place. Obviously, lunch is essential so I’m off to Borough Market by London Bridge where there is plenty of choice, and then I am walking along Southbank where there is always something happening.

I’m also treating myself to dinner at the Ivy Soho Brasserie and Duck and Waffle because we all deserve a treat after a long term of working hard living off beans and rice.

London has something for everyone, and it’s super close to Reading, approx. 35 mins to London Paddington! It couldn’t be easier to go so you really have no excuse not to explore the City.

 

Catching up at Easter:

Going home for Easter means seeing your nearest and dearest and enjoying your time with your family.

Make sure you factor in some time to relax as it is the Easter BREAK after all. So make the use of it, if you love lie-ins enjoy some.

 

Overall, Balance is Key. There is so much to do over the Easter holidays which are all important, so don’t forget one vital aspect that makes you happy.

My Academic Placement at the Daily Mirror

ITALIAN STUDIES STUDENT, LUCY, TELLS US ABOUT HOW SHE FOUND HER PLACEMENT AND WHAT ACTIVITIES SHE’LL BE GETTING UP TO…

As part of my studies in second year, I chose a module called Literature, Languages and Media. At first I thought this module sounded rather ambiguous and I wondered what it would entail. Luckily my personal tutor taught part of it last year so could give me some advice and guidance about what it was all about. It turns out it is focused around a two week academic placement which had to be in the area of literature, languages or media. For me this sounded like the ideal module seeing as I have an interest in these fields and so I really wanted to gain some experience in the industry. I also think doing a placement looks fantastic on your CV and is brilliant in preparing you for the world of work that lies ahead.

 

Finding my placement

Finding a placement was completely down to us as individuals. We had to find, contact and organise them with only a few snippets of advice from the lecturers. Whilst this was certainly daunting at the time and I was incredibly stressed about how I would ever find a placement, I am incredibly glad that we weren’t handed everything on a plate. By doing everything yourself, it really feels like an achievement when you do find the placement. In addition to this, it is really good to learn about independence when it comes to communicating with companies and this is a skill I will always value.

After sending email after email to companies that I had an interest in, I began to become rather disillusioned that it was so difficult to find someone willing to take you on. This is another great lesson in life – if you don’t succeed the first time, keep trying and do not give up, it is inevitable something better will come around the corner.

I was chatting to one of my relatives about how my second year at university was going and I was telling her all about my year abroad, my new living arrangements, the different modules I was taking and much more. I was telling her about how I was struggling to find a placement and asked her for some advice about finding one. I had completely forgotten that she has a connection to the Daily Mirror and she therefore had links in the industry. She gave me the email address of someone who worked at the Mirror and put in a good word for me. This was a great help considering it is very hard to find personalised email addresses for people in a company. I have learnt that you do not get much luck in terms of a response if you email a generic account like “enquiries@company.com” for example. So I sent off my CV and my proposal for an academic placement and a few days later they agreed to take me on for two weeks over Easter. Recently I have been considering my career paths and I particularly like the idea of working as an editor in a magazine. Therefore, I was overjoyed at the thought of a placement at an established newspaper because it would be incredibly insightful and it would look excellent on my CV.

 

What I’ll be doing

I will be spending one week of the placement with the Editorial team which I am particularly excited about as I will be able to discover more about the career I may want to go into. I will then be spending the other week in the Marketing department. Marketing is another area that I find particularly interesting and I am keen to further develop my interest in this field.

 

So whilst I won’t be relaxing over the whole of the Easter break, I will be doing something very exciting which will benefit me massively in both my studies and in the long term.

 

Useful resources

Top Misconceptions of British Sign Language (BSL)

THEATRE ARTS, EDUCATION & DEAF STUDIES STUDENT, ALEXANDER, SHARES HIS KNOWLEDGE OF BRITISH SIGN LANGUAGE…

Last week was National Sign Language Week! I love learning sign language and I’ve had the privilege of incorporating it in my degree and gaining some qualifications in it. I really enjoy this language because it’s visual and kinaesthetic – and these are ways I learn best. I love the expressive nature of this language and it has tied in well with my theatre studies. It’s always great to see a deaf person’s face light up when you sign with them, even if you make mistakes or sign slowly – they usually really appreciate the effort.  In honour of National Sign Language Week, here are the top misconceptions of British Sign Language (BSL).

 

  • Since March 2003, BSL has been an official recognised language, but still has no legal protection.

 

  • BSL is not just a signed version of English, because that’s Sign Supported English (SSE). BSL carries more weight and is more commonly used. It has a completely different word order to English, with the most important words first. For example: ‘what’s your name’ in BSL would be ‘name you what’?

 

  • Makaton Sign Language and BSL have many similarities, but they’re not the same. Makaton tends to be used in by individuals who have learning difficulties.

 

  • Every country has its own sign language. International Sign Language can be used if you are communicating with a Deaf person from another country.

 

  • There are regional variations of British Sign Language, one sign could mean something very different in the South of England than it does in the North!

 

  • BSL is not all ‘iconic’ signs ie. gestural signs that look exactly like what they are discussing. There are many ‘non-iconic’ signs which means they look nothing like what they are discussing.

 

  • There is not necessarily a sign for every word and even if there is, you don’t always need to sign it. BSL is usually shorter and more simplified, therefore can be quicker to express than verbal speech. However, sometimes a concept may need more establishing, and can take a bit longer. Although there are signs for connective words (e.g. and, but, or) you can usually obliterate or use fewer of these when signing. In some cases, you can use facial expressions (e.g furrowed eyebrows) to show you are asking a question.

 

If you’re interested in learning BSL, there are various courses you can take online or in person. Click here to find out more. A simple way to learn a few signs is to look them up using an online sign dictionary, however it’s better to learn through a course and practicing with others.

 

Did you know that Reading Uni offer a BSL module that any student can take (not just if you’re on my degree)?! Click here for more information.