Emma Iliffe

Tutor Award | Sponsored by Education and Training Foundation


Tutor Award

Emma’s passion for Deaf culture and the Deaf community forms an integral part of her practice as a teacher of British Sign Language (BSL). Having been denied access to signed education as a child, she is motivated by her desire to support hearing students in learning and developing their own language skills. 

I’d had a career which included being an illustrator of Deaf children’s books and teaching in a school for Deaf children, but then I discovered that studying for and then working as a BSL teacher in local adult education colleges ignited my passion for teaching adults. I joined City Lit in 2018 and now spend half my time teaching and the rest preparing, supervising our BSL teachers and creating resources. I enjoy finding ways to motivate and inspire learners, using games to assist learning, repetition to reinforce signs, facilitated practice with one another, and constant feedback.  

It’s important to provide resources and encouragement for learners to mix within the Deaf community. When you learn BSL, you learn not only a language but a whole culture. Last year, I took some of my learners to the BSL rally to experience first-hand the Deaf community coming together. I am passionate about breaking down barriers and strengthening bonds.  

Many of the students I’ve taught have told me what a difference I have made to their family life, careers, confidence, and wellbeing. I know that each individual learner who becomes a skilled signer has a positive impact on those that they communicate with, and to the wider Deaf community.

Mark Hopkinson, Head of Centre for Deaf Education at City Lit, said: “Emma is adored for her kind manner and tireless commitment. She is dedicated to promoting greater understanding of Deaf culture, inspiring students to not only further develop their own use of BSL but explore their personal identities and be confident in themselves.”