"Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive." Anaïs Nin

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

UK: ASL Around the World

This week, Rebecca Slone, the owner of  Over the Rainbow Sign Academy in Lakenheath/Mildenhall AE United Kingdom is our guest writer. Rebecca shares with us how signing not only helps babies and parents communicate, but also how signing can unite multi-lingual families together. 

When I was in college, I spent two weeks on a student trip to England. I never imagined that nine years later I'd be living there...or that two years after that, my son would be born there...or that a year and a half after that, I would start a business teaching baby sign language classes out of my home. 

I'm a military wife, former elementary school teacher, and mommy to Liam who is nearly 2. We are currently stationed at RAF Mildenhall, located about 2 hours north of London. I started looking into using sign language with my baby when I was pregnant & came across the Signing Time & Baby Signing Time products shortly thereafter. When my son was about 5 months old, we attended a baby sign class offered by our local SureStart service. I was over the moon when I realized that Liam was signing "milk" when he was 7 months old. 

As Liam's verbal and signing vocabularies neared triple-digits, impressing family & friends and making life with a young toddler a bit easier (and a lot more fun!), I decided to become a Signing Time Academy Instructor...and Over the Rainbow Sign Academy was born. 

As a Signing Time Academy Instructor, I am able to use my passion for teaching to help other families build a great foundation for communication. My Sign, Sing & Play classes are made up of American military wives like me as well as British & other European moms...some are married to Americans, and some are not. English is the first language for some mothers in my classes, but for others, English is a second language. One of the little ones in my class hears German from her mom and English from her dad. Another hears Czech from her mom, Turkish from her dad, and English at day care & play group! I find it fascinating that these kids are learning multiple languages at such a young age and I personally believe that learning sign language can help these families form links between languages. 

The class my son and I took taught British Sign Language, but I only chose to use a small handful of BSL signs with my son (such as "pig" just because I liked it better!) I teach the ASL signs, but when I know the BSL sign, I will point it out to the British mummies in my class in case they prefer to use it. I find that most moms in my class wish to learn signs in order to communicate within their little families and aren't fussed about learning ASL instead of BSL. They teach me things too, like when teaching the sign for "pants" in England, I should use the term "trousers" since "pants" refers to underwear! 
I love that moms and children from different states and countries can come together through a shared appreciation for the great experience that baby sign language offers! 




  1. How I wish I'd started signing with my daughter when she was an infant! She was diagnosed with moderate hearing loss just before she turned three. Now she's 8 and we're still trying to learn!

    Thanks for providing these ASL resources!

    1. You are very welcome. My 9 year old and I are still learning, too. We are signed up to take a class together in June, and he is also going to ASL camp for hearing AND deaf and hard of hearing kids this summer. For him, seeing other kids signing motivates him to learn more.
      Keep at it, and I wish you and your daughter much success!