receptive skills videos

5 BSL videos to support your receptive skills

No need to trawl the internet for receptive skills videos! We found 5 BSL Level 2 receptive skills videos to help you with learning BSL.

All the answers to the questions are at the bottom of the page. No cheating! Try to watch the video, then scroll down to get the story and the answers to the questions.

Using video for practising receptive skills:

When you are learning British Sign Language, you will need to practice your understanding of the language. This is usually done by watching videos of deaf people signing stories. There are a few things to note about videos:

  • Videos are 2D so any signing can be difficult to understand because sign language is a 3 dimensional language.
  • Videos are smaller than real life. When you are signing with a deaf person, you get a clearer view. You can also ask questions to clarify anything you don’t understand.
  • Fingerspelling is difficult to read. Again, this is because videos are 2D so some letters can be difficult to see.
  • The quality of the video can impact your ability to understand what is being signed. Most older videos are poor quality and sometimes the signer merges with the background (e.g. story no. 5 below).

It is not recommended that BSL Level 1 students attempt to understand the signing in these videos.

BSL story 1: A meal out

This story links to Theme 2 of the BSL Level 2 curriculum ‘eating and drinking’. You will also see a number of linguistic features of BSL such as placement and role shift.

BSL story 2: A new house

This story is short (30 seconds long) but worth it! There are no questions but you can test your receptive skills to check if you understand what is being signed. Do you need the translation? See the bottom of the page for a summary of this BSL video.

BSL story 3: An old friend

This video follows the format of Signature exams. It would be useful to practise receptive skills under exam conditions and see how you get on. The answers will be at the bottom of the page.

BSL story 4: A birthday surprise

This is an older video (circa 2007) but it is still worth watching to practise your receptive skills.

BSL story 5: the missing dog

This is also an older video from when Signature used to be known as the CACDP. It has regional signs for days of the week and numbers.

BSL Story translations from BSL to English:

Try to watch the video clips and write down your own translations of the BSL into English, then compare your version to the summary translations below. Did you understand the clips? Receptive skills are important for BSL. Your understanding of BSL will be tested from BSL Level 1 onwards

BSL Story 1 translation:

A long time ago, I offered to take my ex-girlfriend, Ruby, out to dinner. She liked Italian food. I saw a new restaurant advertised in the newspaper, called Reno so I thought we could try it.

So I drove us there. When we got there we noticed how small it was. In the restaurant, a waiter named Robero approached us and took us to a table. He asked if we wanted anything to drink. I asked Ruby what she wanted and we agreed on red wine.

The waiter left to get the drinks. I opened the menu and decided I was going to order the ravioli. I asked Ruby what she wanted and she decided to have the spaghetti bolognese.

Whilst we were waiting for the waiter to return I felt a draft, and felt cold. I looked at the window and noticed that one of the panes of glass was missing. The waiter returned with glasses. I said we were getting cold from the draft and he just closed the curtains which was a bit odd.

He started to pour the wine but I noticed Ruby’s glass had a red mark around the edge of her glass. The waiter apologised and returned with a clean glass and poured some wine. He then took our order. I ordered ravioli and Ruby ordered spaghetti bolognese.  The waiter left. As we chatted, it  became noisy from children running about. One of them bumped my chair, it was terrible.

The waiter returned with our food. I picked up my knife and fork and noticed they were a bit mucky so I gave them a clean with my shirt. I started eating my ravioli but on closer inspection, I noticed I didn’t have a lot of meat in the ravioli parcels. I asked Ruby if hers was alright but she wasn’t happy because she found a hair in her food.

I called the waiter over and explained the food was awful. He asked what was wrong with it. I explained that Ruby found a hair in her food and that there wasn’t any actual meat in the ravioli. He said sorry and I asked him to take the food away. He asked what we wanted and I said I’ll just pay for the wine. He said that was ok, that’s £8.99. I paid for the wine and we left. I asked Ruby if she wanted to go another time. She said “no, never again”

BSL Story 2 translation:

 I was renting until I finally managed to buy a house, at last! I moved all my furniture and other things into storage because the house I bought, needed a lot of repairs. I couldn’t use all the rooms. I had to use one room at the back (the dining room). I had to sleep, cook, eat, watch tv in one room and I had no shower or bathroom.

BSL Story 3 translation:

Late one night I was looking through old photos and I found one from when I was 10. . I had a red school  jumper on. The name was Dundee School. I was with my best friend Sarah. I haven’t see Sarah for many years. Why? I’ve been busy with a new job. I was sad I lost touch with my friend. I thought I’d email to see if she wanted to meet up for a coffee at the new café in town.

She replied quickly and said she’d love to meet up but could she bring someone. I thought she wanted to bring her boyfriend.

 In the café, I sat at a table with 3 chairs, then looked at the menu. I could see a woman with a baby in a pram struggling to open the door to the café. I got up to open the door and then went back to sit down at the table. The woman with the pram came over, I was surprised to see it was Sarah! I didn’t recognise her as I hadn’t seen her for such a long time. Her baby’s name was Stephen, blonde hair, big blue eyes.

 We chatted for hours and Sarah told me everything that had happened over the last year. She met her partner, who was originally from Germany and were instantly connected to each other. She became pregnant and was due to get married in 3 months’ time. She invited me to the wedding and of course, I said I would go. I asked her where she lived and I was surprised to learn that she lived just round the corner! I promised that we would see each other more frequently from now on.

BSL Story 4 translation:

It was my 40th birthday last month. I was feeling fed up. I had a new job in London. Moved to London from North York so I couldn’t go out with friends. I hadn’t received any birthday cards. I decided to stay later at work and then head home for a nice hot bath, drink wine and eat chocolates. Then watch tv and chill.

I finished work late, got home about 7.15pm. I tried to turn the lights on but they didn’t turn on. I went to the kitchen to get a new bulb but that didn’t work either. I checked outside and the street lights were on so thought it must be the fuse box that had tripped.

I went into the kitchen to find a candle, I looked in all the cupboards but couldn’t find one. I went back into the hall to find the fuse box. I felt my way along the hall but it was dark so I bumped my shoulder  and my head. I was feeling really fed up.

Got to the cupboard and turned the lights on at the fuse book, then I heard ‘hello’ from my sister Maria.

She said she wouldn’t miss my 40th birthday! She gave me a big hug then we popped some champagne open.

BSL Story 5 Translation

Ages ago, I used to live in a small village near Swansea. There weren’t that many people that lived there, maybe 100 people and everyone knew each other. The village had a small hall where I would play badminton every Wednesday during the winter season. We were in a league and played other clubs, both home and away games.

In the summer, I played tennis when there were no league games.

One night I was playing an away game in Swansea. I drove there alone, as my wife had to stay to look after the children. The road was dark, with no street lights. I hit a dog, so I stopped, got out and had a look around. I didn’t have a torch with me so I wasn’t sure where it went. I don’t know if the dog was making a noise, as I am deaf I cant hear anything.

I spotted some houses nearby so I went to one of the houses and knocked on the door. A man came to the door. I explained that I had hit a dog out on the road. The dog was white with dark patches.

I couldn’t see the man’s face as the lights behind him put a shadow on his face. It turned out the dog was not his dog but his next door neighbour’s. We both went next door and a lady opened the door. I explained the situation. She was very nice about – she explained that the dog was hers and was always escaping the house.

Both the man and lady noticed that I was wearing my badminton top. I explained I was on my way to a game. They both told me to go and they would look for the dog. While I was driving I was still thinking about the dog and worried about it.

I arrived at the venue, played the game. When I got back home, my wife said there was a message saying that they had found the dog. The dog had a broken leg but was fine. I was relieved to know the dog was ok. I wondered how the lady knew my name as I didn’t give her my details. The lady who owned the dog rang our local vicar and asked if he knew a deaf man in the village. The vicar knew that she was talking about me so that’s how I managed to get the information.

Other ways to improve your receptive skills

  • You can use video clips to practise getting the correct sign order for BSL. Write down every sign you see. However, be aware that you will not be able to write down all the face, body movements or placement as these cannot be written down.
  • You can also try summarising a video. Try to understand the general plot of a story. Having an overview and understanding the context of a story can help you fill in the blanks when you start to focus on the details.
  • Finally, you can focus on one aspect of BSL linguistics e.g. how many timelines are in the story? how many people (role shift) are in the story?

Other BSL receptive skills resources:

Signworld is run by Linda Day who is a qualified BSL tutor and linguistics expert. There are lots of resources available on the site to help learners with various aspects of learning BSL.

BSL Zone is an online TV channel for BSL users. Some programmes have subtitles and/or voiceover so it’s worth checking out for receptive skills practice. Most Level 3 tutors recommend using BSL Zone for practising receptive skills.

The videos on this page are unsuitable for beginners. If you’re a beginner, you can start with learning basic BSL greetings.

There are lots of different ways to practise your receptive skills. Do you have any tips you want to share? Why not share your comments on our Facebook page.