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SignOn - Beginners' English for the Deaf

Background:Due to inadequate educational methods, it is harder for deaf people to learnspoken/written languages than for hearing people. This is especially the case withforeign languages, even English. The success of the bilingual “SignOn!” model( proved that deaf people can be motivated to learn English if thecourse respects their needs and preferences. The feedback to “SignOn!” showed theurgent demand of many deaf people for a beginners’ course in English.Aims:SignOnOne aims at providing this in the form of an on-line multimedia course. It willfollow the standards of English courses for hearing people, but adapt their methods andcontents for the deaf. This means that written texts will be accompanied by signlanguage translations, visualisations of contents, a multilingual dictionary (English to thenational sign languages of the partners), and explanations in sign language. Interactiveexercises will allow the users to practice individually and repeatedly.As a beginners’ course, SignOnOne will not only use the bilingual model developed in"SignOn!" but also apply language learning concepts from cognitive linguistics - ourunderstanding of texts is based on our knowledge of everyday scenes and scripts (ourbrain stores a lot of scripts; e.g. how to give directions to somebody); even languagestructures reflect our perception of the world in such scenes.Impact:The SignOnOne model can easily be expanded by the integration of other signlanguages or by the application to another foreign spoken/written language. An optionalsound feature could attract also hard-of-hearing people using a sign language, therebywidening the target group.We expect a strong impact on the target group and deaf education because the websitewill allow deaf people to learn English via their first or preferred (sign) language andsome immersion-like strategies (understanding phrases from the situational context).



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