University of Edinburgh

Subject Workshop for Teachers of Deaf Children - English Language

Presented in October 2005

A look at some deaf-friendly resources for the teaching of English

Mary Dowell, St Vincent's School for the Deaf / Scottish Sensory Centre

Thoroughly Mainstream Mary

Mainstream attitude to teaching English - process of discovery to acknowledge how that had to change

Culture shock in terms of:

  • Understanding what was required
  • How I had to adapt my methods and delivery to suit this new culture

Initially shocked at lack of appropriate resources.

The School was previously for blind and deaf - lots of individual academic text for teaching blind pupils

What was there for teaching deaf pupils?

There seemed to be a traditionally low expectation in terms of what deaf pupils could achieve.

Looked at situation objectively

There were two types of client

  • Deaf
  • Deaf with SEN

The challenge: How to develop resources for all these pupils with limited time and limited money (and limited knowledge!)

Adapting Existing Resources

By this time I felt I was spinning but I don't believe in re-inventing the wheel. So, I looked to existing resources I could adapt.

Purpose of today?

To introduce resources (adapted existing resourced and developed new appropriate resources) I've discovered that work for me - not perfect but I find them useful. I welcome constructive criticism to improve any work I've done. Hopefully you can read, improve on, develop any of the work I provide - Network and Share.

Adapting and Developing Resources

I began to look for material that was:

  • high interest
  • low reading level
  • age/emotionally appropriate

Hodder and Stoughton Livewire: Real Lives Series
Nelson Thornes: Spirals Wellington Square (for SEN)
Heinemann Literacy World: Satellites

Anne Frank

Developed unit on Anne Frank
Developed unit on Holocaust for Enterprise - Display of Knowledge
Used complementary resources - Hitler - signed video can be used for watching/listening strands/outcomes

"See, Hear"

Programme on Deaf Holocaust
80,000 deaf people killed in the Holocaust


Motherland Deafinately Theatre Group (bring in elements of Deaf Studies)

Glasgow Educational and Marshall Trust

"I am pleased to inform you that the school’s entry was judged as excellent and has been awarded a prize of £25"
This pupil wrote a comparison of two war diaries: The Diary of Anne Frank and Zlata’s Diary

Pupils really engaged with this topic and were reported to have stayed up late to watch "The Pianist" (a film about the Holocaust)

Factual material is generally more popular to 'hook' pupils with>

Trips to Ibrox and Parkhead are popular as follow-up activities - introduce report writing

Competition successes are great for building confidence and developing an interest in writing, eg; Young Sports Journalist of the Year competition.

Graphic novels are very popular: 'A Christmas Carol'. New 'Oliver Twist' film coming soon!

Greek Myths are very visual - excellent for teaching setting, plot and character.

This leads on to Superheros - relevant and popular; gender issues

Collaboration with SALT - Boardmaker. Excellent resource for:

  • pupils who are learning English as a third language
  • developing language in SEN context

LDA Chatter Box

Positive spin-off from texts such as Muhammad Ali

  • Show DVD of Ali
  • Mississippi Burning
  • Internet search project into: Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Civil Rights Movement, JF Kennedy
  • Broadens source of reference/general knowledge

Region Resources

Lots of new material being produced by Glasgow Region. Good for our pupils to know they are reading same texts as friends in other schools.

Resources to target specific problems that deaf pupils have

Idiomatic language

  • Difficult for hearing children
  • Impossible for deaf children unless explicitly taught
  • Compare with French, BSL idioms

Reassure about irrationality of idioms - they don't mean what they say.
Knowledge of idiomatic expressions is vital for Intermediate 1 exam.
Can be taught in conjunction with simile and metapho.r
Better to introduce idioms in context.

Bi-lingual approach to teaching grammar

  • Interactive CD
  • Introduce parallels with BSL grammar points
  • Excellent workbooks to reinforce teaching points
  • rgets specific difficulties for deaf pupils, eg; Articles, Verb tenses

Use in conjunction with Written English Tutor for BSL Users

  • Excellent reinforcement
  • Pupils enjoy the fact that this is a 'Deaf' product
  • Opens discussion about FE/University options (eg; Gallaudet)
  • Promotes confidence in Deaf Culture
  • Raises academic aspirations

Some problems with texts going out of print.

Where do we go from today?

NDCS - Working Party for the teaching of English?

Teachers of the Deaf - Business Meetings (cross-regional) for networking and keeping up with new developments?

Remind Ourselves

We are not academics or professional presenters but - busy practitioners!

We should not worry about criticism of our attempts to develop resources but just try to help each other and, in turn, help our pupils

. . .and finally, we should all . . . Stop Spinning - Start Sharing!