“Why not teach everybody sign language?” Observer readers respond to Bognor MP’s foreign language claims

Nick Gibb MP was interviewed on Good Morning Britain. Picture contributed
Nick Gibb MP was interviewed on Good Morning Britain. Picture contributed

Observer readers have responded to comments made by Bognor Regis and Littlehampton MP Nick Gibb, who wants to see a rise in the number of young people who choose to study a foreign language at GCSE.

Speaking on Good Morning Britain about the Department for Education’s recent proposal to boost the uptake of pupils studying a foreign language, Mr Gibb said it was ‘essential’ for young people.

However, a common opinion amongst our readers is that sign language is a more beneficial skill to learn.

Commenting on the Bognor Regis Observer Facebook page, Alexandra Jean Glasspool asked: “Why is it always a spoken language? Why not teach everybody sign language or at least the basics.”

She added: “Not everyone speaks French or Spanish etc but everyone can become deaf.”

Claire Marie Tarrant agreed by saying: “BSL (British Sign Language) or Makaton is a great skill to have... not just for deaf people but it helps children learn too!”, whilst Sophie Wands thinks ‘everyone should learn BSL’.

“I would definitely support it becoming a GCSE,” she added.

Valerie Scott weighed into the argument by saying: “Considering most of us go deaf in our maturer years, learning BSL from an early age not teenage age would benefit all.”

It was not only Bognor readers that had this view.

Melissa Louise, writing on the Chichester page, said: “I think sign language should be made essential.

“It’s the same everywhere you go so would actually be able to communicate with people.”

However, Nick Gibb, minister for school standards, isn’t alone in his view that learning a foreign language is vital.

On the Chichester page, Angelina Stoianova wrote: “It is essential and it is for everyone only if the lack of self-motivation and the fixed perspective are eliminated.

“Those youngsters with a growth mindset are flourishing in languages simply because they want to connect with as many as possible.

“Every language is a new world and great experience.”

Similarly, Ruth Speed said ‘it opens up a world of future opportunities for our young children’, whilst Brigitte Jones, who was ‘just limited to French’ as a child, wishes she had ‘further opportunities’ to learn languages.

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