University of Edinburgh

Literacy Workshop 2: Developing English in a Sign/Bilingual School

Presented on Wednesday 28 February 2007

frank barnes logo

Live English Work at Frank Barnes School for Deaf Children

Mark Varley



  • The term Live English has been used to describe English in social and communicative contexts
  • Live English is a part of the Sign Bilingual model. It describes:
    "all the strategies which deaf children need in order to communicate with non-deaf peers and adults… in social and communicative contexts"
    (M Pickersgill, S Gregory & LASER 1998)

Live English at Frank Barnes School

  • Work started across the school from September 1999 including a change to the start of the school day
  • Previously work embedded in SLT group sessions with limited carryover

speech and language therapy team august 2002

speech and language therapy Frank Barnes schol

Live English

Live English work develops…

English Language

  • vocabulary:
    topic/ situational
  • grammar:
    word order & tenses
  • Interaction:
    conversations/ phrases

Phonological Awareness

  • Active listening
  • Lip-reading
    (following speech without sign)
  • Voice and speech skills
  • Rhyming skills

How it works in practice


  • SLT plans and delivers jointly with teaching staff
  • Children are involved when class teacher and SLT feel they may benefit from inclusion in the group


  • 1x session weekly with SLT + teacher/ teaching assistant
  • Class teacher then delivers 2x weekly follow-up sessions
  • Usually blocks of 6 weeks


  • Classroom based
  • Outings as appropriate depending on the topic

Linked to class topic

Overall aim is to prepare children for “real life experiences” in the outside world. These could include:

  • Works on different aspects of communication all together in a functional way, eg; FSWS, lip-patterns, voice and speech, listening, English : grammar, social aspects, vocabulary, cultural awareness
  • Communication strategies run through all modules
  • LEAP – Live English Activity Pack

How it works in practice...modules

  • Over past 2 years modules have been developed and put into practice
  • Modules aim to link to the class topic and involve a functional skill

Example of module

Year 3 topic, "London then and now"

  • Topic web: Investigating our local area, London transport, London landmarks
  • Link with functional skill of asking for directions
    - 6 week plan
    - Parents information and carry over work
    - Gradual build up of skills and confidence to prepare for an outing into London

at the supermarket

faces game - copy mark

what food do you need


Assessment of outcomes:

  • Time for Development
    ie more systematic approach
  • Timetabling
    where does it fit in
    time for carryover
  • Modality
    Balance between SSE/BSL/Spoken English
  • Joint working
    Have different expectations and priorities
  • How to generalise
    Daily life - both in class and outside school
  • Realistic Expectations
    Managing social/emotional effects


Working with the children

  • Successful approach to develop lipreading/functional listening and spoken language
  • Developing functional/practical life skills - holistic
  • Improving confidence
  • Providing experiences and opportunities they may not have outside school

Working with Parents

  • Positive views/feedback
  • Easy to communicate/explain – easy for parents to grasp

Working with school staff

  • Profile in school – demystifies our work
  • Clarity of role

Job satisfaction

  • Feel you are doing something useful as SLT
  • Good fun!


Communication Profiles
Working with School Staff
Live English Curriculum
- evidence-based practice
Working with others
- ie other schools
further use of whiteboards/internet