Sign Language Teachers in Europe: an Open Educational Resource
(Erasmus+, KA2 2014-1-NL01-KA200-001279)
The SignTeach project will develop, implement and evaluate an Open Educational Resource (OER) for sign language teachers and their trainers in EU member states. The OER will include information for new and experienced sign language teachers about a.o. didactics, class management, the CEFR for sign languages, meta-linguistics, ICT and entrepreneurial skills, as well as interviews with beginning and experienced teachers and their learners. Information about transnational mobility will be included: Where can you go if you want to go abroad to learn or teach a sign language, or to receive further training as a sign language teacher?
A bilingual online SignTeach Glossary with didactic and linguistic terms explained in International Sign and English text will increase the accessibility of the information on the website for Deaf sign language users, and will help them become acquainted with the English terminology used in these fields.
To promote future activities and spin-offs, a survey will be made: who teaches sign languages in EU countries and who trains the teachers? What are good examples, what are barriers? The survey will result in a roadmap to further professionalize sign language teachers and the sign language teaching profession and in recommendations for the development of a transnational qualification system for sign language teachers based on the European Qualifications Framework for lifelong learning (EQF).
The sign languages of the EU are recognized as fully fledged indigenous languages of the EU (Leeson, 2006), and are an important part of Europe’s multilingual diversity. In most EU countries the opportunities to learn a sign language however are limited. Mainstream schools and colleges do not – as a rule – offer sign language courses to their students. Deaf sign language users who want to train to become a sign language teacher or who want to further professionalize their teaching skills will find it even more difficult to find a training course and/or accessible resources.
The short-term objective of this project therefore is to develop an OER that sign language teachers in EU countries can use for information and inspiration, either independently or as participants in national or transnational training courses for sign language teachers. The objective in the intermediate term: to promote and support further collaboration in this field between organizations, between countries, and between the teaching and teachers of sign languages and those of spoken languages. The long-term objective: to promote sign languages as equal languages of the EU. Equally valuable, equally visible, equally learnable.
The objective of the SignTeach project is not: to teach a sign language. The objective is to provide (potential) sign language teachers and their trainers with the information, tools, mobility options and inspiration that they need to become (better) sign language teachers and trainers. This in turn, should lead to more and more professional sign language teachers and courses across the EU and last but not least: to more persons in EU countries learning and using a sign language.
The output of the SignTeach project will be developed and evaluated in an iterative process, in close interaction with the target groups. We will use a bottom-up methodology, asking sign language teachers and learners what they do, think, want, need, as wel as a top-down approach, comparing EU programmes and curricula for the training of sign language teachers and selecting good examples. Last but least, we will look at methods, frameworks, guidelines and tools developed in EU projects for the teaching of spoken second languages, screen these for their usability for sign language teachers, adapt and translate these and add them to the SignTeach OER.
The SignTeach consortium consists of experienced sign language teachers and other experts in this field from 11 organisations in 8 EU countries, each with extensive national and international networks. Partners and target groups teach sign languages at all levels of education: schools, adult education, higher education. Some of the partners have already collaborated in several EU projects; others are newcomers. Geographically, the consortium stretches from Iceland in the North to Italy in the South. The participation of the European Union of the Deaf (EUD) in the consortium ensures us of access to national deaf organizations and dissemination and implementation opportunities in all EU member and candidate states, as well as EFTA states. EUD will be our primary liaison with EUDY: the European Union of Deaf Youth and the young Deaf people they represent.
SignTeach is a 3-year project. The starting date was 1 September 2014.