MAKATON – sign language

M., who I met on the facebook, in connection with MEC, advised me to have a look at the MAKATON signs that she uses with her daughter to connect the two languages. No matter which language you use, use the same sign for the same thing, so the child can learn to connect the meaning. You can find out your own signs as well, or do a signing course in Hungarian. I don’t want to recommend any courses as we didn’t take them. Just google it: baby sign language course Budapest.

Here are some examples, signs we use on a daily basis:

Though we sign the horse in a different way:
You can find more signs here.

You can also learn from a special BBC programme for kids with special needs. The programme itself is called Something Special.
Each programme sees Justin and Mr Tumble (played by Justin) out and about applying signing in a variety of places. Topics covered include babies, pets, toys, weather, clothes, shops, food, all about me, where I live and colours. Mr Tumble always dresses up, wearing brightly-coloured clothes and even big shoes! He moves around clumsily and has lots of fun.

The language used throughout each programme is supported by Makaton signs and symbols and is designed to be understood by children in the early stages of language development. (source: BBC – Something Special )
Full episodes are 15-20 minutes long. What I did with this programme is that I watched them one by one on youtube and made a playlist of what I needed (20-25 videos). I learnt the signs (they are very straight forward and easy to learn) and started using them both in English and in Hungarian (same sign for the same thing). E. was 6-7 months old when I introduced signing to her. (4-5 signs at a time. When she was familiar with these I introduced new ones.) Sometimes I picked a short part of an episode (max. 5-6 minutes long) and we watched it together. This could have begun earlier as well. But never cry over split milk.

Here is the first video I saw and really was fascinated by it:

I don’t do the signing all the time only if E. is not paying attention or I really want to link a new expression in both languages. Most of the time signing draws her attention. In the next post I’ll write about some songs which can be followed with signing. It’s a hit with kids. They love it! You’ll love it too.

4 thoughts on “MAKATON – sign language

  1. Many of these signs are incorrect. Sheep is the sign for cow, i have never seen cow done that way. Cat is really tiger so close but not same. Helpful websites such as are great resources


  2. Thank you for your comment. You're right about the sheep and the cow sign but I suppose as long as you use the signs consistently there can't be a problem. Around us nobody uses any sign language we just use the signs as links between the 2 languages (English-Hungarian) at home. I introduced makaton signs as they seemed straight forward. There are so many sources online… I just picked one of them and use them systematically with my kids. By the way, the website you added shows ASL signs and not makaton, i.e. based on the British Sign Language. There are major differences.


  3. I worked part time in a play group for children with special needs for 13 years and we only use Makaton as it is the easiest communication for children with learning difficulties. I can't remember cow and sheep properly but cat is definitely correct for Makaton. As you said it is quite different to British sign language and much easier to teach as the signs mostly relate to actions or the look of an object. I only got up to stage 2 of makaton through training at work but my memory has never been good so I can only teach my 8 month old what I remember and the rest I make up. Will need to watch Mr tumble to refresh my memory.


  4. Michelle, I myself keep forgetting the signs all the the time, and make up my own, or even better my 4,5 year-old makes up a sign for her little sister. It's so much fun. And of course, we watch Mr Tumble to learn new signs as well 🙂


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