And: the SignTeach Recommendations. What can we do to improve the status, the working situation, and the training opportunities for sign language teachers in Europe?
00. About the Survey
On this page, you can find the results of the SignTeach Survey. Our conclusions and recommendations are included in the SignTeach Report, elsewhere on this website. A .pdf and .epub version of the report will be published by the EUD.
We published the SignTeach Survey on our website, August 25, 2015.
The main objective of the Survey was to raise awareness and to start a discussion about the needs for training and professionalization of sign language teachers:
- Who teaches sign language in Europe?
- Some information about the work of the respondents: How many hours do they teach, who do they teach, what materials do they use? And: if they could make 3 wishes for their work, what would they wish for?
- Some information about the training the respondents received: How much training? Who by? And: if they could make 3 wishes for their training, what would they wish for?
- What wishes do sign language teachers have, for their work and for further training?
- What good examples, good advice do they want to share, and: what barriers, problems do they have to cope with, in their country?
Awareness, discussion and then, hopefully, national and international initiatives and further collaboration to promote sign language teaching and to support sign language teachers in Europe, and worldwide.
- 243 sign language teachers from European countries completed the Survey. This is only a small percentage of the sign language teachers in Europe. We did not receive any responses from some countries. From other countries, we had only 1, or a few responses. As a result, we do not know if the results that we report here are representative of all sign language teachers in Europe.
- The SignTeach Survey was published in written English and International Sign. Many sign language teachers cannot use these languages fluently, or at all. As a result, some respondents may not have understood all questions. We see that some respondents did not answer all questions, maybe because they did not understand the question or the alternatives? Other sign language teachers may have decided not to answer any questions, because of language problems. Based also on the answers to certain questions, we assume that independently working sign language teachers and sign language teachers with few international contacts are underrepresented in the results presented below.
Because we know that the data from the Survey are not as hard as we would have liked them to be, we did not attempt any sophisticated analyses of the results, e.g. comparing hearing to deaf teachers, or teachers with 10 years of experience to teachers with less than 10 years experience. We did not even try to compare countries, e.g. country 1 versus country 2.
What we did do, is compare each of the SignTeach partners' countries to the average results of all respondents. We did this for the partners' countries only, because we had the most results from these countries and because partners were able to comment on the results of their country.
When we compared each country with the European averages, we did not try to normalize the data. The European averages are the combined responses of 243 sign language teachers from 23 European countries.
Even with these reservations, the results of the SignTeach Survey are very interesting and very relevant. They are the first of its kind and clearly show differences between countries and between sign language teachers. Very valuable also are the answers to the open questions: what barriers do you have to deal with, and: what advice do you have for your colleagues?
October 2017, Liesbeth Pyfers, on behalf of the SignTeach consortium
01. Number of Responses
Number of responses: 243
Not included: Other countries
- Australia (1), Chile (1), China (1), Costa Rica (1), Liberia (1), South Korea (1), Turkey (1), USA (2), not specified (1)
Respondents who indicated that they do NOT teach sign language.
02. Age of the respondents
June 2017, Europe
NB: Iceland, only 4 respondents. But at the time of the survey, the total number of sign language teachers in Iceland was 4. Now: only 3.
03. Hearing status
04. When did you first learn to sign?
We compared the age that Deaf vs. Hearing sign language teachers first learned to sign.
41% of the Deaf Sign language teachers are 'native' signers, they learned to sign before age 4, compared to 21% of the Hearing Sign language teachers. The majority of the sign language teachers - both Deaf and Hearing - learned to sign after age 4.
05. When did you start teaching sign language?
06. How many hours do you teach, per month?
07. Who do you teach, most of the time?
08. Why do your learners want to learn sign language?
09. Do you teach the national sign language, a foreign sign language, or ‘sign supported speech’?
10. What materials do you use for your courses?
11. Imagine: you can make 3 wishes for your work as a teacher...
12. Have you had any special training for teaching sign language?
June 2017, Europe
Note: We did not ask about the level or the duration of the training. 'Any special training' can be anything from a one-day workshop to a University level Master's Degree.