There are so many benefits of dual language books for children in Early Years and Primary.
If you’ve not yet come across our Rhyme + Sign series – dual language picture story books that incorporate both British Sign Language (BSL) keywords, alongside English – you’re in for a treat!
Join me and explore how these award winning books promote inclusivity and enhance cognitive and linguistic development for all young children and sign language beginners.
Unlocking the World of Dual Language Books with British Sign Language (BSL)
In today’s diverse and inclusive educational landscape, the demand for innovative and effective teaching resources has never been higher. One overlooked resource, that is starting to gain more and more attention, is dual language books that incorporate British Sign Language (BSL) alongside English.
These books are not only bridging communication gaps but also opening doors to a world of benefits for children’s cognitive and linguistic development.
Why Choose Dual Language Books with Sign Language?
Dual language picture story books, enriched with BSL, quite simply offer more to any educator, with advantages that extend far beyond language acquisition and help young children to access the curriculum more ably.
These benefits make them a valuable addition to classrooms and early years settings.
1. Hand/Eye Coordination:
Engaging with BSL signs while reading helps children develop essential hand-eye coordination. This is particularly crucial in their formative years, as it enhances their fine motor skills as well as getting little hands ready for writing.
2. Faster Processing:
Young children visually process things more quickly than aurally, which means that their brains can de-code information via the eye more easily than via their ears. For example, using the signs for ‘stop’ or ‘danger’ will get a quicker result than just shouting very loudly. The technical phrase would be that it helps support receptive language skills. This is even more evident in children with SEND or additional needs.
3. Fine Motor Skill Development:
BSL encourages children to use their hands to communicate, refining their fine motor skills and fostering a deeper connection between language and gesture. Sign language use strengthens little fingers, again helping little hands get ready for writing, but also to gain independence with doing up zips and buttons, holding cutlery and being able to chop and peel.
4. Attention and Observation:
When children can follow a story in both English and BSL, their attention and observation skills are honed. They learn to pay closer attention to visual and auditory cues simultaneously but, crucially, sign language gives children a way to join in with the story even if they are not yet certain of the spoken word. This helps with their comprehension as well as showing how good their recall is, when they are able to show their language ability in a way that suits how they learn best – i.e. kinaesthetically.
5. Language and Literacy Foundations:
Dual language books provide a strong foundation for language and literacy. Through BSL, children grasp the concept that language can take different forms, enriching their understanding that communication is so much more than just words, that it includes their whole bodies with gesture and facial expression. Signing just makes sense to small children – it feels so ‘right’ in what it depicts and they have an instinctive grasp of it.
6. Confidence and Independence:
As children become proficient in understanding and using BSL, they gain confidence in their communication abilities – even if words are still a bit wobbly – which fosters their growing independence and their learning journey.
7. An Extra Layer of Learning:
Not only are children learning another language (BSL is classed as a Modern Foreign Language) but their brain is boosted by the added information the kinaesthetic experience of signing is giving them. As Marilyn Daniels states in her book, Dancing With Words, signing is quite literally ‘language in motion‘ and therefore helps children to learn more ably.
The Power of Simultaneous Signing and Talking
As Marilyn Daniels states, “Movement is an indispensable part of learning and thinking.” Combining signing with verbal communication, especially in the context of storytelling, plays a pivotal role in a child’s language development.
Michael Jones further emphasises this by stating that talking and learning with young children should include simultaneous signing to emphasise key words in context. This approach helps children in the early stages of language development, reinforcing vocabulary and comprehension.
Research also substantiates the impact of signing in preschool education. Marilyn Daniels, in her book “Dancing with Words – Signing for hearing children’s literacy,” points out that children not only find signing fun but also show a significant improvement in receptive English vocabulary and retention of information when signing is integrated into the curriculum.
Inclusivity: BSL for All with Dual Language books
One of the most remarkable aspects of dual language picture story books enriched with BSL is their potential for inclusivity. These books are not limited to children who are deaf or hard of hearing but are designed as a valuable resource for all children.
The idea behind the award winning Rhyme + Sign books is that everyone can benefit from learning BSL, regardless of their hearing status. They promote inclusivity by enabling all children to access and engage with storytelling in a unique and enriching way. These books provide a valuable resource that encourages interaction, understanding, and shared experiences, breaking down barriers and promoting unity among children of diverse backgrounds.
Enriching Education and Impactful Learning
Dual language picture story books that incorporate British Sign Language offer an exciting pathway to enrich education for children in a way that is simple, fun, memorable and that has immediate impact on their learning.
The Rhyme + Sign series fosters cognitive and linguistic development – and promotes inclusivity in an increasingly diverse society. The power of signing, alongside speech, should not underestimated.
The benefits extend to all children, creating settings and classrooms where everyone can join in equally, whether they are hearing or verbal – or not.
These books, with their captivating blend of language and gesture, provide a remarkable opportunity for educators and practitioners in primary schools and early years settings to make learning an inclusive and engaging adventure.
When we embrace the notion that language is not confined to words alone, but extends to the beauty of ‘language in motion’, dual language picture story books with BSL become a powerful tool in nurturing young minds and preparing them for a more inclusive and understanding world…
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Baby Signing Expert and Award-Winning Educator
Shelley is a renowned expert in baby signing, applied to early parenting, and an award-winning educator at Little Signers Club.
With a passion for empowering parents, she guides families on a remarkable journey of connection through the magic of baby signing.
As an award-winning educator, Shelley combines her in-depth knowledge of sign language with her understanding of the unique challenges and joys of early parenting.
Shelley will be your trusted guide and cheerleader, helping you navigate the fascinating world of early communication and celebrating the milestones along the way.
Her expertise and passion will empower you to create an unbreakable bond with your baby through meaningful connections and joyful communication.