- Rewarding work teaching sign language, often to deaf students
- You could be working at a special needs or language school
- Opportunities to work freelance or set up your own agency
As a British Sign Language teacher, you'll teach sign language to a variety of students, and teach other subjects using sign language.
Your day-to-day tasks will depend on the age group you're working with, but it may involve:
- Planning and preparing lessons
- Teaching students sign language
- Teaching curriculum subjects to pupils using sign language
- Setting project work and marking essays and exams
- Checking students' progress
- Working with staff teams to develop new courses and teaching materials
- Talking to parents and carers about their children's progress
- Taking part in meetings and events like open days
- Attending professional development training courses
- Maintaining and updating student records
You could work at a school, a special needs school, a sign language school, a college, or in the community.
To be a BSL teacher, you'll need knowledge of teaching and the ability to design courses, the ability to work well with others, knowledge of English language, sensitivity and understanding, the ability to understand people's reactions, patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations, flexibility and openness to change, and the ability to create the best conditions for learning or teaching new things.
You'll need to pass enhanced background checks for this role.
You can do a foundation degree or a degree in British Sign Language (BSL) and deaf studies. Some knowledge of BSL will be helpful when you apply, though this is not always essential. Universities will want to know about your reasons for applying and will assess your BSL skills before you start. After finishing your course, you could go on to complete a teaching qualification, like a postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE), which you may need if you want to teach in schools.
Alternatively you could do a Level 1 and 2 Certificate in BSL before moving on to a higher level qualification. Employers like schools and colleges usually look for a minimum of a Level 3 or 4 Certificate in British Sign Language. Some will ask for Level 6 Certificate. You'll also be expected to have a qualification in your own subject area aside from BSL, and usually a teaching award. For example a level 4 or 5 Diploma in Education and Training to teach in a college.
You can start as a sign language teaching assistant or communication support worker and do training on the job to get a British Sign Language qualification at level 3 or higher. You can then do further study for a teaching or training qualification to become a BSL teacher. You can also train in BSL if you're already working as a teacher in a school or college.
You can complete BSL qualifications with a professional body like Signature or the Institute of British Sign Language. These organisations offer qualifications from introductory level up to level 6.
With experience, you could become a BSL teaching co-ordinator in a school or college, or take on responsibility for building links with employers to offer work experience opportunities to students. You could also do further training to broaden your employment options, including courses in lipspeaking, deafblind communication and deaf awareness. You could also work freelance or set up your own BSL teacher agency, supplying teachers who have BSL skills.