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Raising the profile of sign language teachers

See more: LESICO Conference 2017

Danny De Weerdt, Arttu Liikamaa, Juhana Salonen, Finland
LESICO 2017, Friday 13th October 2017

Sign language teaching in Finland, for example, has a long history. In contrast, sign language teacher training programs and research into sign languages both know a short history. This contrast may led to the picture that the field of sign language teaching is nowadays kind of ‘Wild West’. People with many different backgrounds teach sign language to learners with many different backgrounds too. For so far, we do not have a clear picture what knowledge or competencies are expected from these teachers if they want to provide high-qualitative sign language teaching. In order to develop discussions on the profile of sign language teacher, the following four areas are important: sign language proficiency, linguistic knowledge, pedagogical knowledge and frequent contact with the sign language community. Each area can be viewed as constituting a sliding scale from virtually nothing to just about everything. Above all, every sign language teacher should be aware with an open attitude that all these areas should be taken into consideration when teaching a sign language. In addition, we should further think what the required minimum levels are in each area when one wants to teach sign language. And the required minimum levels depend on the curriculum the teacher works with and the target group the teacher teach.