THEY are fast becoming language experts down at Birkby Junior School.

Children at the busy school already chatter away in 18 different languages.

And now they are about to add a 19th.

They say that children should be seen, but never heard.

And that’s certainly going to be the case when a special assembly takes place at the Huddersfield school next week.

But pupils at Birkby will be using another form of communication when they speak to their peers during the celebration.

A dozen children have been learning to sign in special workshops during lunchtime with Lucy Stead.

And they will be showing off their talents during an assembly as part of National Learn to Sign Week which is organised annually by the British Deaf Association. It is another remarkable trait at a school where so many languages are already spoken by some of the pupils.

A spokesman said: “It is amazing how well the children do at picking up the different languages and we all get by”.

The school has welcomed freelance signer Lucy into school to work with children.

Children have been learning to sign the alphabet, their names, information about their families, feelings and emotions and a variety of signed songs.

Two of the girls involved have a deaf mother who uses only signing to communicate.

Mrs Stead said she had first become interested in sign language when a child with a deaf brother had taught her the basics while she was working at another school.

“Sign language is a fantastic tool for teaching and the children learn so many other things like body language and confidence skills from it.

“They pick it up so quickly and are so eager they just want to learn the next sign, they love it.”

Lucy said as modern foreign languages became more important in primary schools, BSL could be used as a tool to widen the knowledge and broaden the experiences of children overall.

BSL is a fairly recent addition to courses offered to deaf people.

The British Deaf Association’s Dictionary of British Sign Language was not published until 1992 and many people are surprised when they discover that sign language was forbidden in the teaching of children until 1975.

At Birkby it will be added to a growing list of languages which covers: Arabic, English, Gujerati, Hungarian, three forms of Kurdish, Sorani, Pashto, Pahari, two forms of Panjabi, Mirpuri, Polish, Farsi, Croatian, Umbundu and Urdu.

BSL will be the 19th language.

Schools interested in Lucy’s work can contact her at: