Dace is from Latvia and is profoundly deaf. Her first language is Latvian Sign Language but she has since become competent in British Sign Language. She is studying at the Centre for Deaf Education at City Lit to improve her English, in particular her grammar, reading and writing skills.
I live in the UK so there was a need for me to learn English to be able to actively participate in society. I don’t want to live here and not be able to communicate in English; I want to be independent. I want to be able to develop the skills I need to help with employment opportunities, to be able to read my mail and understand forms.
I attend City Lit one day a week to learn English in a deaf-only group. We are all sign language users. I have really enjoyed the social aspect of learning with other deaf people, rather than
being the only deaf person in a group, not understanding things and feeling isolated. There is a fun and sociable side to learning and this is just as important as the grammar and English.
Learning as part of a community of deaf learners helps reduce isolation and helps improve confidence and wellbeing. As I progress, my confidence grows and grows. It’s really hard sometimes but I keep going, and feel like I have something to aspire to in my life.
Russell Aldersson, English tutor for deaf people at City Lit said, “Learning English while not being able to acquire it in the same way that everyone else can is like climbing a linguistic mountain. Dace has persisted and persevered, taking each step at a time, and her commitment to learning is extraordinary.”