Correspondence from China:
Teaching English to the Deaf
Hello again Alistair,
Since we last communicated about teaching English to Deaf
learners as a foreign language, several organizations supporting
ESL and applied linguistics professionals have published agendas
making special educational needs (SEN) among their top priorities.
During the last three years I have received correspondence
from many EFL teachers working with SEN students, either within
an inclusive (mainstream) classroom, or in special education
settings. Among these correspondences I found a great deal
of confusion and misinformation about appropriate pedagogical
practices for Deaf learners and students with disabilities.
My colleague, Dr. Tang Ying, who teaches English to Deaf adults
has received similar correpondences and has expressed that
he shares my concerns for the potential negative impact of
under-qualified teachers upon the developing Chinese Deaf
community. The Chinese Deaf and hard of hearing population
is estimated by the United Nations as being excess of 100
million people (Galloway 2000).The trend toward meeting the
needs of SEN students in EFL appears to be increasing with
some new urgency and we feel this is a positive trend. However,
bearing in mind that foreign teachers in the developing world
can have great influence in their assigned schools and communities
and the human travesties experienced historically by Deaf
people under the auspices of well-intended, but misguided
hands, we decided the time was ripe to assert our preferences
as stakeholders in international Deaf development. We therefore
gathered together what we believe to be the key advocates
for Deaf development in China and drafted a document to express
our preferences. Our intention is to encourage qualified Deaf
educators to come to China to share knowledge about Deaf education
and teach English and foreign sign languages. We hope that
EFL teacher placement agencies and organizations will set
appropriate standards for prospective teachers of the Deaf
and support the momentum of this growing area of applied linguistics.
Galloway, A. (2000) Deaf Children in China. P 49. Washington,
D.C: Gallaudet University Press.
I am currently teaching at Beijing Union University's College
of Special Education, English/ASL to Deaf learners and the
Sociology of Deafness and Disability to teacher education
Yours for progress,
Please note: We wish to retain the copyrights for the Stakeholders'
Statement, in the interest of making it available to as broad
an audience as possible.
Stakeholders Position on the teaching of
English to Deaf Learners in China
We, the undersigned, as legitimate stakeholders in Deaf education
and cultural development in China, assume the following position
on the teaching of English to Chinese Deaf learners.
1. Given that the English language is a mandatory
part of the National curriculum and given the potential socio-economic
significance of English language learning for the developing
world, we assert that optimum methods should be employed to
provide fair opportunities for Deaf learners to access the
English language, and
2. that those methods be informed by sound, relevant, research
in teaching practices and outcomes appropriate for Deaf learners,
and/or be inferred by relevant a priori research in the absence
of directly obtainable data.
3. We assert our preference for whole language,
communicative, approaches that meet the linguistically distinct
needs of Deaf learners as is consistent with summative theoretical
research-outcome derived recommended best practices in both
Deaf education and foreign language teaching pedagogy
4. Based upon these preferences, we further assert that practitioners
should be fluent, or have certification of near-native fluency,
in an appropriate mode of manual language (not the student¡¯s
native sign) and English, since both cognitively and culturally
a bi-lingual, bicultural, learning environment is indicated
to promote efficacious outcomes in language acquisition among
Deaf learners, and that as members of the global Deaf community,
Deaf peoples have the right to access and learn the appropriate
foreign signed language with the required foreign host language.
5. Finally, in keeping with the published policies of the
majority of organizations serving English language teaching
professionals regarding respect for cultural and linguistic
minorities, and Deaf education and cultural organizations
in the English speaking world, we expect foreign language
teachers endeavoring to teach Deaf learners in China to have
expansive knowledge in, and respect for, Deaf culture, Deaf
languages and history, and to be prepared to impart such knowledge
in a manner befitting a well-formed foreign language teaching
|Lan Qing, MA
Beijing Union Univ College of Special Ed
|Sun Han Lin
Shun De School For the Deaf
Fo Shan, GD
|Li Ying, Ed.D.
|Tang Ying, Ph.D.(can.)
Chinese Deaf Assoc.
|Prof. Zhang Neng Sheng*
Dept. of Special Ed
Liaoning Normal Univ
|Zhou Ting Ting, MA
|Xiao Yang Mei
College of Special Ed
|Li Cai Mao* Ph.
|Shi Xiao Yi
Yuan Ping Special
The above signatories represent key people advocating for
Deaf development in China. Additional signatures had, or being
sought, from other key advocates and the Chinese Deaf community
at large will be kept on file with China's National Association
of the Deaf.
Except where indicated by an asterisk (*) all of the above
signatories are both physiologically and culturally Deaf.
Additional signatures will be kept on file with China's National
Association of the Deaf.
For additional information please contact
Tang Ying firstname.lastname@example.org
or Lan Qing
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