A trainee teacher has learned sign language with free training from her landlord.
Michelle McCourtie, who is a tenant of housing association Wellingborough Homes, took up the training because her son Sanchez suffers with some hearing impairment, as a result of glue ear, a common childhood condition.
Tutor Jill Parker led the British Sign Language course for around 10 students, who were each taught some basics and then able to test out their skills with those more fluent in signing.
The course was originally due to last for five weeks, with support from Neighbourhood Learning, but the students were so enthusiastic that it eventually ran for 15 weeks, thanks to extra support from Workers Education Association (WEA).
Sign language is just one of the free training courses on offer from Wellingborough Homes at its Tenant Resource Centre, next to Morrisons in Wellingborough, including IT training and digital photography.
Michelle said: “Sanchez is able to hear but I wanted to learn sign language so that we are prepared in the event that he ever loses his hearing completely.
“Whatever I learnt on the course I came straight back and taught the kids. They were so excited to pick up the signs and we can now communicate with each other using the skills I have developed. The course covered words and phrases you would use in the home and at school, so it was ideal.
“I thoroughly enjoyed it. Signing really is like learning a new language. We tested our skills by meeting with some deaf and hard of hearing people at the Trading Post in Kettering. We quite quickly learnt the sign for ‘slow down’ as we had to ask them to repeat what they were doing while we caught up.”
Michelle is now hoping to develop her skills further. She is currently training to become a teacher and hopes her sign language might be helpful in the classroom.
She said: “If there are any deaf or hard of hearing children in my classes, I know that I will be able to help them learn using the skills I have learnt.”
Irene Carter, customer outreach services manager at Wellingborough Homes, said: “Sign language has been hugely popular with local residents, and we are really pleased to be able to respond to local demand by providing free training.
“Training can help you learn new skills, which are essential in a competitive job environment like the one we have today. It’s a great way of meeting new people, and building confidence too – which can be just as important when you’re looking at a career change.”
Wellingborough Homes is running further British Sign Language course in September. To find out more or book a place, contact Irene Carter on 01933 234450.
Forthcoming courses include:
IT training – two week-long sessions, starting Monday 13 August and Monday 20 August.
British Sign Language - starts Thursday 13 September and runs for six weeks. Takes place at the Tenant Resource Centre.
Digital photography - starts on Friday 14 September and runs over five weeks