8 BSL books to help you learn Sign Language

Are you learning sign language? Or about to start learning BSL? Here is a list

of BSL books we recommend to our students. Books are great as a quick

reference guide, particularly if you are in class or if you are preparing for a

BSL assessment. Books can also enhance your knowledge. Using them can

also count towards your personal study time that you need to complete to

achieve accredited BSL qualifications.

We have listed books that range from beginner to expert so there is

something for everybody. If you are a parent of a deaf child, you might like to

look at the resources we list on our page that specifically supports families.

Introductory BSL books

Book 1: BSL for Dummies:

This book is a firm favourite with students. It explains the basics that

students need to know. It also covers deaf culture and linguistic elements of

BSL such as explaining hand shapes. The book includes lots of signs. It has a

friendly, informal style and gives you the information to help you feel

confident when signing. We think it is a great book for beginners.

Book 2: Lets Sign:

This book is another firm favourite for our BSL students. Signs are shown as

drawings with explanations on how to do the signs underneath the drawing.

Cath Smith has produced a whole series of these books. They are great for

beginners who are visual learners and the explanations are easy to

understand. The graphics are colourful so great for kids too.

Book 3: Let’s Sign Pocket Dictionary

A smaller, more concise dictionary with lots of signs. This book is for anyone

who doesn’t want to carry around the larger A4 sized dictionary!

Book 4: Signs Make Sense

This BSL book covers some useful topics. For example, there is a chapter on

‘iconicity’ (the visual nature) of signs. It also explains how handshapes are

linked to meaning. Overall, we feel this is a book worth reading.

Book 5: Sign Language Companion

This book continues on from ‘Signs Make Sense’. It builds on the information

in the first book and has over 400 signs (with explanations). A useful

reference book for BSL learners, particularly those attending accredited BSL

Level 1 or Level 2 courses.

Book 6: Deaf Culture (Our Way)

This book is easy to read and provides a useful insight into Deaf experiences.

It helps learners understand and appreciate Deaf culture.

Intermediate and Advanced BSL books

Some books have far more detail in them than is needed when you are

learning BSL level 1. So, we recommend these books students who are

learning at Level 2 and above:

Book 7: BSL Dictionary

The dictionary by the BDA was one of the first books that provided a

comprehensive collection of signs. It also provides detailed

information about the linguistics of BSL including explanations of mouth

patterns that are made with signs.

Dictionary of BSL
Dictionary of British Sign Language

Book 8: The Linguistics of British Sign Language

This Linguistics of British Sign Language provides a detailed explanation of

the different elements within BSL. There is an accompanying video with

explanations and exercises for each chapter. The book is a vital resource for

anyone studying at Level 3 and above as it is essential reading for accredited

BSL courses. Many interpreting courses recommend this book as it provides

a solid foundation for understanding BSL.

We also list a number of websites that you can use to help you practise BSL.

We hope our list is useful for your BSL studies.

Did you know we offer free online BSL practise sessions? If you a learner on

an accredited BSL course, you can join one of our free online BSL practise

sessions. See our Facebook page for details or contact our office for further