Makaton - Christmas, the Podcast and More!


This month at Busy Bees Education & Training, we’re all about Makaton! Our fantastic Makaton tutor Becky Walker has been very busy delivering live classes to our Makaton students, making a guest appearance on our new Live From the Hive podcast, and preparing some Christmas Makaton signs for you to learn at home for free!

So – what is Makaton?

Makaton is a unique language program utilising speech, signs and symbols, supporting children and adults who have communication and language difficulties. It helps them to build relationships, social interaction and communicate their needs, wants and feelings.

As Becky Walker told Live from the Hive earlier this week, “Communication is a human right. We all deserve to be able to tell people how we feel".

When Becky worked in nurseries, she encountered children with complex needs and discovered the benefits that Makaton could have in their development, and her enthusiasm for the language program is evident whenever she speaks about Makaton. "I'm a great believer in teaching everybody. Makaton can help make an inclusive society".

What’s the difference between Makaton and sign language?

Whereas, for example, British Sign Language is for the deaf community as a means of communicating without speech or hearing, Makaton is designed to work alongside speech, thereby supporting speech and language development.

Who uses Makaton?

Makaton has been growing in use since its inception in 1972, and is most prominently used by Mr Tumble on CBBC’s Something Special. Since its use in the show, it’s seen a rise in popularity, with many parents, speech therapists and caregivers having nothing but praise for the benefits of the programme, with over 100,000 children and adults using Makaton in the UK today.

“It has been hugely important in easing the toddler frustration, enabling her to make choices and express herself.  I still get a buzz watching her master a new sign or sign along to a song.”

“The whole family embraced this new form of communication. His sisters were particularly enthusiastic, often making up their own signs for the more obscure – SpongeBob SquarePants was a particularly amusing one, as you can imagine”

“I have found Makaton one of the best professional learning experiences I’ve ever been part of”

“Makaton is life changing; it can remove obstacles for individuals and families.  I have seen the results:  that one human being can have a richer relationship with another because they are understood”

Is Makaton easy?

“Children are very visual learners,” says Becky. “They love doing actions and singing songs - putting specific signs in songs encourages children to imitate you, and respond positively towards it. It can be picked up by anybody and everybody”

Makaton is taught in stages – with easier concepts in the early stages “Yes/No, “Mummy/Daddy,” for example – with more complex concepts taught later on.

The consensus is that yes – Makaton is easy to learn! The signs are largely based on both BSL, and the everyday gestures that we might use with our natural body language, meaning that it’s really easy to pick up.

How can I find out more?

Our live online sessions in Makaton are available to book here:

You can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram, where every day throughout December, we’ll be posting a video of Becky demonstrating a Christmas-related sign!

Subscribe to our podcast Live from the Hive on Spotify to hear the full interview with Becky Walker, which will be available on 4th December 2020.