We would like to congratulate our Deaf Studies colleagues for a successful academic staff exchangetrip to China last month as part of the UK-China Partnership Project, funded by the British Council. The iSLanDS Institute has been honoured to be involved in this exciting three-year project led by our colleague Dr Junhui Yang, which focusses on using an on-line learning platform to teach English to deaf students.
Dr Junhui Yang with Clark Denmark and Yao Jian, the project webmaster
Dr Yang visited four universities in Beijing, Zhengzhou and Xuzhou alongside long-time deaf community educator and scholar Clark Denmark, whose MA by Research thesis was undertaken at iSLanDS and analysed the efficacy of an interactive learning platform for deaf Indian learners of English as a second language.
They delivered sessions at each of the four universities to demonstrate this innovative on-line and interactive learning approach, highlighting the use of multiple language dictionaries produced in cooperation with Spread the Sign in Sweden, which feature English, Chinese, and multiple sign languages. The trip also included a two-day workshop on 24 and 25 June at Zhongzhou University (ZZU) in Zhengzhou City, with 50 participants, including teachers and students from deaf schools and universities, and people from the local community.
Workshop participants at ZZU on 25 June
Dr Yang commented: “The Chinese participants were extremely interested in our Deaf Studies degree course at UCLan, and the training of sign language interpreters in the UK. They asked many questions about course delivery and the support provision that enables deaf students to access higher education in Britain. We also met some deaf entrepreneurs and business owners who showed us that deaf people are experiencing increasing success at work in China.”
She said that English teachers face the challenge of teaching deaf learners who have had to cope with insufficient access to education, and thus lack foundational skills in written Chinese on which to build their English. The participants found the dictionaries and on-line approach motivating in terms of addressing this challenge, and academics from several countries came together to discuss the project’s aim of successfully exploiting visual teaching and learning methods that are naturally more conducive to deaf learners.
Clark delivers a session at Beijing Union University
She added: “There was a high level of interest in the project, and especially in Clark Denmark, who is very well known and prestigious in sign language teaching and applied research, and has an amazing amount of knowledge and experience. It was interesting when they commented that British Sign Language was easier to understand and begin to learn than American Sign Language!”
“This all happened as a result of the British Council’s incredible support in making the project possible, for which we are really grateful.”
Congratulations to our colleagues and all the academics and participants in the UK-China Partnership on their impressive work throughout this project so far.