Can Bright help you learn BSL without a class?

Israel Lai

Vocabulary exercises
Amount of content
Language structure
Cultural awareness
Pricing
App design

Summary

Bright BSL is unique not just among sign language apps, but language learning apps in general. It follows the Duolingo paradigm, while adding genuinely creative exercises to introduce you to the inner workings of sign language and Deaf culture.

The free trial has a surprisingly large amount of content — give it a go!

4.5

A few months ago, I started taking learning British Sign Language seriously.

Before that, I had done an online self-learning course, but quit halfway through, because it felt more like a dictionary than a conversation course. This year, I started taking a class at my university.

But I can’t help but wonder what other materials and resources exist out there, that can supplement my learning, or even give me a good foundation in the language.

You might be in a similar scenario, wanting to learn some sign, whether to communicate with someone you know, make new friends, or just learn a new language within a unique medium of communication. Perhaps you aren’t sure it’s for you, so you want to try it out, before committing more time and money to BSL.

I’ve got good news for you. Bright BSL might just be the Duolingo for British Sign Language — except better.

First of all, I’m obliged to remind you that there are many different sign languages in the world, and BSL is what’s generally used in the UK. There are also a lot of variation across regions, but what you’ll learn here will be understood in most places.

Let’s just jump to the conclusion: this is one of the best language apps I’ve ever tried.

It’s still recommended to take a class, but this might just be the next best thing. If you’re learning BSL but aren’t able to go to a class, or if you’d like to supplement your classroom learning, I wholeheartedly recommend you try this out. The only downside I can see is the price.

But if you want to learn more about why I think so, read on.

Continue reading

(en sub/粵字)

Why did I end up talking about immigration with Richard Simcott, one of the best known polyglots?

Can Europe has its own common language?

Why is it important to learn indigenous languages?

What languages do polyglots and language lovers sing in?

It’s the second day of the Polyglot Gathering 2022! In addition to many interesting talks, what else is happening?

Stay tuned (and TURN ON SUBTITLES) for the multilingual conversations I’ll have with my new friends!

Continue reading

I really want to learn Welsh.

I don’t know why—I just started ‘vibing’ with the language, after a few months of dabbling. And the native speakers I’ve spoken to so far have been very enthusiastic about sharing their language and culture. It’s one of my favourite things about studying a minority language.

And after all this, I can tell you: it’s hard to learn.

But not for the reasons you’re thinking!

The language itself is not hard. I made a little meme about the mutations when I first read about them, but since then, I’d like to officially rescind it.

The grammar is okay, especially after Polish. It has quite a lot of unique vocabulary, especially where most European languages share a Latin loanword, but it also has a crap ton of modern English loans.

What makes it so hard?

Resources. (The right ones. Or: lack thereof.)

Allow me to explain.

Continue reading

Somehow my first year as a doctoral student has come to a close. That terrifies me.

So I decided to channel that dread… into a vlog.

…except editing a video takes too much time, and I already have a stack of wayyyy more interesting travel vlogs to edit. So this is now a blog post.

So in terms of the blog channel, what you first need to know is… I got pretty burnt out, after editing the Canto Learner Highlight interview with Christian.

There was so much good stuff, and I spent too much time trying to cut down the length, before giving up.

And then came the subtitling process, and if you haven’t done it before, take my word for it: subtitling in two languages takes a shit ton of time.

So yeah, that last part is the main thing that threw me into a long hiatus after uploading that video. But there are a lot of other (interesting) things too.

So let’s start with what I’m actually doing.

Continue reading

(en sub/粵字)

Airports in chaos, flights cancelled – will I be able to get to the Polyglot Gathering in Teresin, Poland in time?

(Since I’m posting this, obviously I did…and I arrived half a day earlier! As a result, you also get a glimpse of our local tour to the birthplace of Chopin himself!)

Stay tuned (and TURN ON SUBTITLES) for the multilingual conversations I’ll have with my new friends!

Continue reading

I was going to include this as a section in an article about Welsh learning resources, but my frustrations ballooned into a post of its own. I’ve written a Duolingo course review before, so hey, why not.

Part of that original article was about how you can find a few seemingly different learning resources, from books and online lessons to interactive webpages—but they’re all based on the same written textbook that is used for in-person group classes.

And what do you know, even Duolingo’s Welsh course is designed around the very same classroom curriculum. It is emphasised many times in the course notes, and it shows.

The course creators intended it this way so that Duolingo complements the publicly available Welsh classes and reinforces the materials taught in class. I assume they expect most people to learn this way, and I can appreciate the reasoning behind it.

But guess what? Duolingo was always meant to be a self-learning tool.

Every other course on Duolingo has its own design and progression. You learn through sentences and use the vocabulary and grammar in a variety of contexts. Subsequent lessons build on existing knowledge by using those words and phrases as context for new items. Your ‘strength’ in each lesson deteriorates over time so that you go back and refresh your memory. It’s not linear.

And because Duolingo Welsh is designed around a textbook curriculum, it is made like a textbook.

How is Duolingo Welsh just like a textbook?

Each lesson comes with a large amount of reading and grammatical explanations, before you even get to start. Even though I like reading about grammar, Duolingo courses generally teach using sentences that guide you to figure it out yourself through context and only ask questions (in the forum) afterwards. These lesson notes are usually reserved for interesting cultural facts and knowledge, or a reference table you can come back to, rather than required readings.

Continue reading