Fingerspelling is usually one of the first (and easiest) skills you learn in sign language (BSL). If you are about to start a BSL course, you can get a head start by downloading our free fingerspelling chart. You can download a right-hand version, left-hand version or both!
What is fingerspelling used for?
Fingerspelling is the representation of the alphabet on the hands. In BSL, it is used in a number of ways such as spelling people’s names or street names. It can also be used as a sign in BSL e.g. tapping out the letter ‘M’ twice means ‘mother’.
Practise fingerspelling regularly
Learning to fingerspell is really easy. If you practise every day, you can become ‘fluent’ in a very short time. When you learn sign language, you practise fingerspelling regularly. We encourage our students to practise for at least 5 minutes every day so you can develop your muscle memory.
Is fingerspelling used around the world?
All signed languages have fingerspelling. However, it will be performed differently in different parts of the world. For example, American Sign Language (ASL) uses one hand for the alphabet.
If you are interested in learning British Sign Language, we have a number of courses suitable for beginners. Our online courses, include mini-games and offer a range of tips to help you use the BSL alphabet fluently. For beginners, we suggest our BSL Basics online course. At the end of the course, you can put your new skills to the test and book a session with a Deaf tutor!
Did you know we have a secret vault of BSL resources? You can access hundreds of video clips and Deaf culture resources just by signing up to one of our accredited BSL courses!
If you are a beginner you can learn the BSL alphabet by watching our clip below:
Alternatively, why not grab a copy of our fingerspelling booklet! Our students receive a free copy of our booklet (below). You can unlock the secrets that make it easier for you to perform the correct handshapes confidently.
If you need resources for practising BSL before your assessments, check out our list of useful websites.