What is ISL?

Irish Sign Language (ISL) is a language that was developed by the Deaf Community so that they could communicate with one another and with the rest of society.

Sign Language is different all over the world. Although they may share some similarities, each language is unique to its country. In Britain they use what's called BSL, America use ASL, and so on. 

Things to remember when using sign language: 

 - Make sure that when you are signing that the person you are communicating with can see your face and hands very clearly.

-  ISL is a different language to English. When you are signing your name, in English you would say "My name is…"  but in ISL you sign; "My name (and spell the letters of your name)" The word "is", is not used in ISL.

Learn to Sign your name

Here Laura signs "My name…".  "My" is the first picture and the second two pictures are the one action for the sign for "name".

Then you need to spell out your name using the ISL alphabet: 


Send us pictures or videos of what you have done. Ask your parents to help you send them to rte.ie/learn


Read my Lips

This game will challenge you to really pay attention to the way people speak and how they move their mouth while saying different words. It shows how important it is to enunciate.

This game is for 2 players at time.

  • Each player should come up with a list of words and short silly sentences they are going to mouth to the other player.
  • The person who is lip reading should wear headphones with music playing just in case the other person whispers the words out loud while they are trying to mouth it. 
  • Sit opposite each other. 
  • Set a time limit for each turn.
  • You get a point for every word or phrase you get right. 

After you have played have a chat about the following questions - 

  • Were some words harder than others? 
  • What would have made them easier – talking slower, looking more carefully? 
  • Did reading the expression on your partner's face help?


Trying to hear someone whisper is hard for everyone, regardless of their hearing ability.  This game shows us how important it is to say your words clearly or else people might hear the wrong thing.   

The more people that play this game the better, so try and get the whole family involved.

  • Players sit in a line or circle. 
  • The first player whispers a sentence into the ear of the person beside them.
  • The whisper is passed from player to player until it reaches the last person.
  • The last person then says the sentence our loud. It has likely changed a lot from when it started. 


This game will get you concentrating on using your body language and other ways to express yourself when you cannot say anything out loud.

How to get set up: 

Everybody gets 3 pieces of paper on which they must write down a film, tv show, book or song (for little brothers and sisters, you could give them something simple like animals). Fold them up so no one can see what is written on them and place them in a bowl for the opposite team.  

Find a stopwatch or something you can use to time players.

How to play:

  • Pick your piece of paper. Sign to your team what theme you will be acting out to them – film, book, song (see helpful actions below)
  • Show how many words are in the title by holding up that number of fingers. 
  • Then hold up fingers to show which word you are going to start on e.g. If you want to start on second word in the title, then hold up two fingers.
  • Begin acting out your words. 
  • The other team should keep track of the time and stop you when it is up. 
  • You get a point every time your team guesses a charade correctly. 
  • Remember – no talking or making noises!!

Charades actions - 

  • Film - pretend to wind up an old movie camera.
  • Song - place one hand on your chest and pretend to sing.
  • Book – put your hands together and open up your palms as if opening a book.
  • TV programme - draw a square in the air to represent the tv.
  • When someone calls out a correct word point at that person and nod your head. 
  • If your team are close to the right answer, make a 'come here' motion to keep them guessing. 

Send us pictures or videos of what you have done. Ask your parents to help you send them to rte.ie/learn