Deaf teacher of Czech Sign Language at secondary school for the Deaf. Leader for developing the methodological material and methodical support for the subject of the Czech Sign Language at primary schools for the Deaf. Poet and performer/artist of Czech Sign Language.
Deaf teacher of Czech Sign Language at secondary school for the Deaf.
Leader for developing the methodological material and methodical support for the subject of the Czech Sign Language at primary schools for the Deaf.
Poet and performer/artist of Czech Sign Language.
1. What, in your opinion, are the strengths / weaknesses of the current system in your country?
For the strengths in our country, there are the positive views on Czech Sign Language and on Deaf people as members of a linguistic-cultural minority. Until 2000, the only courses that were taught were Signed Czech, all by hearing teachers (mostly children of deaf parents). Now I see that almost all teachers are Deaf, teaching Czech Sign Language.
On the other hand, there are no systems for the standardisation of the curriculum, or to monitor the quality of teaching sign language.
2. Can you give us examples of ‘best practice’, in your country?
One good example is that a few years ago there was the one-year training course for Deaf people who wanted to become sign language teachers, as part of the Lifelong Learning programme by the Institute of Deaf Studies at Charles University. I like it because it was as a neutral and independent place where all Deaf people in the Czech Republic can get a proper training course, rather than in a “private” organisation.
3. Can you tell us about the accreditation of sign language teachers, in your country? Is the system as accessible for Deaf teachers as for hearing teachers?
We do not have any formal accreditation of sign language teachers in our country, not even as an academic degree, that is specifically for the training of sign language teachers. There are some short-term “informal” training courses provided by organisations themselves for their potential candidates, who after passing an exam can work for this organisation.
In my opinion, this does not work well and is more like an internal training that the organisation has set up for its own business. A formal and “open” training programme for all – this is still missing in the Czech Republic.
To the second question about hearing teachers – in our country, there are a few hearing teachers who teach Czech Sign Language. I support them only if they work together with Deaf teachers in the advanced courses of CzSL for sign language interpreters. However, general Czech Sign Language should be taught by Deaf native signers.
4. Can you tell us something about curriculum development in your country? Are curricula based on the CEFR?
We do not have any CEFR for Czech Sign Language. Each organisation develops its own curriculum based on their teaching methodology and also based on the requirements from the Ministry of Education/Social Affairs, that organises the accreditation courses.
Unfortunately, their requirements are mostly inadequate and inconvenient. I see two very big problems. First, there are major differences in the levels of teaching sign language, between organisation,
Second, the development of the curriculum is focused more on teaching sign language to hearing adults, not to teaching it to deaf/hard of hearing students at the School for the Deaf.
In my case, I work as a teacher of Czech Sign Language for deaf and hard of hearing students – I have to struggle with that. Because I do not know what and how to teach properly. It is a big challenge for me.
5. What, in your opinion, is the way forward for sign language teaching & the training of sign language teachers in your country, and/or in Europe?
My biggest wish is to develop and to approve a CEFR for Czech Sign Language as soon as possible. It is a key to all systems – it would give us a tool for organisations to keep the proper level of teaching sign language.
The second question, the way forward for good quality sign language teaching, is to enable more sign language teachers to participate in the Lifelong Learning training programme for sign language teachers.
Date of the Interview: May 2017