18 October 2018

CUHK Launches Bimodal Bilingual Studies Programme
Asia’s First Undergraduate Programme Providing Sign Linguistic Studies



The Department of Linguistics and Modern Languages under the Faculty of Arts at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) is going to offer a 2-year top-up degree programme - B.A. in Bimodal Bilingual Studies - in September 2019. It is the first of its kind in Hong Kong and Asia, providing sign linguistic studies at undergraduate level. It is another landmark success for CUHK in promoting research and training in Sign Linguistics, raising the social status of sign language, and encouraging social integration in Hong Kong. This programme is interdisciplinary in nature, with courses contributed primarily by the Faculty of Arts, and some by the Faculties of Education and Social Sciences. The initial quota for this programme is 20.

Over recent years, CUHK has developed the Centre for Sign Linguistics and Deaf Studies to promote research and training programmes in sign language, deaf education, language development of children with special needs, and sign interpretation. This has made society more aware of the existence of sign language, and many NGOs with the support of the government, now promote sign language vigorously through organising training programmes as well as developing sign interpretation services. All these new developments suggest that sign language is no longer confined to being a language for the deaf, but a vibrant language that helps build social cohesion and integration. Despite this rapid development and society’s more open-minded attitudes towards sign language, there is still a gap. There are still too few teachers, sign interpreters, social workers, counsellors, clinical psychologists and speech and language therapists who are equipped with the knowledge to support effective interaction with and access to information for those populations that may benefit from this mode of communication, and this affects their education, personal growth and social advancement.

The new curriculum takes General Linguistics and Sign Linguistics as core, and is enriched by how the findings of linguistic research, in particular the concept of bimodal bilingualism, may be applied to education, interpretation, social work, and clinical practices to bring about a society that appreciates diversity and inclusiveness. Students in this programme will become bimodal bilingual themselves by undertaking professional training in Hong Kong Sign Language and will achieve a new understanding of the nature of language. They will also have a chance to apply their knowledge through internship programmes. Students graduating from this programme will reach a level of social acumen and linguistic skills which will support their career advancement.

Graduates can pursue a wide range of careers in education, NGOs and sign interpretation. With further training, they can become accomplished educators, social workers, counsellors, clinical psychologists, as well as speech and language therapists.

Professor Gladys Tang, Professor of the Department of Linguistics and Modern Languages and Director of the Centre for Sign Linguistics and Deaf Studies, CUHK, states, “With more than twenty years of research and training experience in Sign Linguistics, CUHK has already produced several  hundred students knowledgeable in Hong Kong Sign Language or Sign Linguistics. They will support the acceptance of linguistic, cognitive, and cultural diversity in Hong Kong in the future. The new programme is the first of its kind in Hong Kong and Asia, and sets up a new model of professional training involving sign language based on the concept of bimodal bilingualism.”

For further information of the programme, please visit: http://ling.cuhk.edu.hk/lin_ug_bmbl.php

 

CUHK launches Bimodal Bilingual Studies UGC-funded Undergraduate Programme, first of its kind in Asia providing sign linguistic studies.
(From left) Prof. Gladys Tang and Prof. Felix Sze, Department of Linguistics and Modern Languages, CUHK
CUHK launches Bimodal Bilingual Studies UGC-funded Undergraduate Programme, first of its kind in Asia providing sign linguistic studies.
(From left) Prof. Gladys Tang and Prof. Felix Sze, Department of Linguistics and Modern Languages, CUHK