A small group of us met in K2 building in Bracknell for our first lesson. Mark introduced himself and immediately started to teach us. I realised that I was suddenly in a no speaking realm. A few of us tried to say hello but there were no formal introductions and I began to panic as I realised that I would have to learn fast because we would not be talking.
Mark gave out some sheets. Information about how many people are deaf, facts and figures and a bit of background info. He told us to learn this ready for the EXAM.
First we learned the alphabet. I began to experience what it must be like for deaf children. They are totally reliant on watching everything. If you can hear then you can write notes and listen at the same time. For me to write notes meant that I missed what Mark was signing-oh help.
Then we moved on to other vocabulary -numbers and then colours. Some of the signs seemed obvious and then one minute later I had forgotten them or got confused. Some signs seem to stick immediately-others like why and what and where and when....I can sign them but get muddled as to which one is which.
This makes me realise that learning must be based on real contexts. I will remember when I am communicating for real not just to practice.
By the end of the two hours I felt exhausted and frustrated. It was so hard to learn and entering a silent world was strange. Mark is very relaxed and has a wicked sense of humour. I think he will be quite a tease when he gets to know us all.
I was a complete beginner. Knew nothing. Others had quite a bit of vocabulary and were already quite confident. The emotion of being left behind came surging up. When you are a confident and successful learner then you have no ideal of the emotions that those who struggle to learn feel. Their small victories are insignificant as you have already mastered things and want to learn more.
I was determined to make progress and have carried my sheets with me all week and was even caught practicing on the train the other day....got some strange looks out of the side of eyes. So...what was the order of the vowels...why do I muddle up i and u and they are both in my name?