First Batch of Deaf Students Graduates from First-ever Certificate Programme in Sign Language Teaching in Hong Kong
A group of thirteen deaf students recently became the first to graduate from the Certificate Programme in Sign Language Teaching offered by the Centre for Sign Linguistics and Deaf Studies (CSLDS), The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK).
In the hope of promoting the development of sign language teaching, CSLDS started the first-ever Certificate Programme in Sign Language Teaching in Hong Kong last year. Offering academically grounded practical training in sign language teaching, the programme aims at professionalizing sign language teaching. Thanks to the sponsorship of the Van Tse Zung Charity Foundation, together with the proceeds from other courses by CSLDS, a scholarship has been set up for this programme and eight deaf students benefited from it this year. At the end of the programme, five students with the best results were given the ‘Best Academic Performance Award’.
The curriculum of the 160-hour programme is comprised of Basic Sign Language Grammar, Introduction to Sign Languages and Deaf Communities, Sign Language Teaching Methodology, Sign Language Syllabus and Materials Design, as well as Practicum which allows the students to put theories into practice and gain experience in the sign language teaching profession. When they have completed the programme, students are able to apply knowledge about the grammar of Hong Kong Sign Language (HKSL) to lesson planning and develop effective strategies to teach and assess learners of HKSL enrolled in various types of courses. These include introductory courses for deaf culture promotion programmes, courses for basic communication in the workplace involving deaf employees, and language classes for parents of deaf children. Students graduating from this programme are encouraged to enroll in other advanced courses for developing a career in sign language teaching.
‘I believe it is a well-rounded programme,’ commented Ms Suranant WANNAPAT, one of the programme instructors, ‘Our graduates are trained in the skills and meticulous planning involved in teaching a good sign language course. They understood that language is a culture and they have aroused their students’ interest in sign language and deaf culture. It is hoped that it leads to more understanding and acceptance of sign language.’
Another instructor of the programme, Ms Cat Hiu Man FUNG remarked, ‘I expect all the graduates will become great HKSL teachers, promote the quality of teaching in language classes and even become our deaf leaders in the community. HKSL classes taught by trained deaf teachers will be an empowerment to our deaf community in Hong Kong, as well as an example to Asian countries. I would love to see more and more trained deaf graduates become our HKSL teachers.’
‘It is an eye-opening programme, including different subjects and issues from sign linguistics, deaf culture to deaf identity,’ said Ms. Anita On Lam YU, the best academic performance graduate. ‘Not only did I acquire knowledge, I also gained self-understanding because the courses encouraged self-reflection. I have understood the importance of lesson planning, which can greatly improve my sign language teaching skills. To me, it’s a lifetime benefit. I would like to thank CSLDS, CUHK and the donor for giving us this valuable learning opportunity. I definitely will recommend the programme to my friends. I hope they can enjoy it as well.’
Most of the first batch of graduates is currently devoting themselves to the sign language related field. Some of them are working at CSLDS, or teaching at schools running the ‘Sign Bilingualism and Co-enrolment in Deaf Education Progarmme’. On top of teaching regular classes, they also teach sign language to hearing students, teachers and parents and they promote deaf culture and harmony among the deaf and the hearing.
The Certificate Programme in Sign Language Teaching will continue to recruit those who are interested in developing a career in sign language. It is planned to expand the programme to Macau in the year 2018/19 and other Asian countries in the future. By allowing deaf individuals and sign language teachers to acquire a professional qualification, it is hoped that the social recognition of the deaf and sign language can be raised.