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About

Deaf and Hearing Impaired Students in the EFL Classroom

Okay- I feel like an idiot. But at least it's not toooo late for me. And maybe this will help some of you too. And perhaps you'll have some good advice for me.

This is my second year teaching in Korea- one in a hogwan (private academy) and once in the public schools.

This is the second time I have had a hearing impaired student attend classes. The problem? Lip reading is hard to do in your native language. A second lanugage is even harder. What is needed is a better solution.

Last year my student was really young and had a hearing device that helped him alot. Though I admit both of us really really dreaded speaking exams (we had them every class). I resorted to mouthing the words to him alot. Which had better results than actually speaking out loud. His pronunication got better than way as compared to me speaking to him. I also sat him near the front where he could see my lips. The term ended fairly well that way.

This year my older student is required to attend class and has a good attitude. However, I can't always gets her to sit in the front. And in a class of 33, whose composite Englih level is pretty low, it's really hard to get to her all the time. Her hearing ability is a lot lower than the first student I taught. She spends a lot of class looking at other students to figure out what is happening. I have felt horrible about the fact that I've not been able to really comminucate or help her during class. I try and so does she. I speak slowly. Annunicate well. Write in her book. But I still feel bad. She is required to attend class. So what can I do to help her?

My sudden realization- teach her English sign language. I know very very little. But I DO know the alphabet. And since Korea schools focus on target sentences each chapter, I can at least learn those. Any ideas on resources or other ways to help her or students like her?

It may seem late in the year to you (for Korean students)...but at least we can get a move on it with her. And start a resource for other students who'll be coming along soon... Thanks in advance for your advice!

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Supporter
Comment by ddeubel on October 29, 2010 at 6:18pm
Ariana,

That is a tough one and it is always a problem to divide our time among students with diverse needs, even more so when they have a distinct disability. But it is just a physical disability and not a learning disability and believe it or not, research does suggest that it can be more of a strength than weakness, if given the right learning environment and tools. Many of the great things we have as teaching/learning tools (like txt messaging, text to speech, online readers etc...) were developed to help students with physical disabilities in the classroom.

Phonetics might be a good place to start. (find the link on our Pronunciation page Also sites with rich facial/pragmatic features - like Kindersay. There might be little more that you can do than you already are (which is a lot) other than getting them using tools online that can foster their development and support their hearing disability.

You are making a difference and though the it will seem like a slog - take solace in the small things.

Further, have you seen the sign language alphabet presentation I made? You might use this in class as a way of building class support and sensitivity to their challenges while also teaching English and sign language at the same time. This is more about learning disabilities but also a good discussion on the topic.

Supporter
Comment by Ariana Carlson on November 1, 2010 at 1:37am
I hadn't seen your presentation with the sign language, but have now bookmarked it. I have no doubt that she's a smart girl, so when I see her this week (I only see my students in class once a week due to my teaching schedule) we will start with the alphabet. From there we will move to calssroom commands in phonetics (I also recommend letting students with hearing disabilities touch your throat when you speak. It creates helpful 'vibration' feed back.) Mostly I started this blog hoping that other teachers who have encountered this problem (or will in the future) will have more resources available to them.

I found a nice FREE website that teaches some basic ASL (American Sign Language) for additional phrase for classroom instruction (like question, write, stand up, etc.) Get a better look at it here(http://www.lifeprint.com/asl101/lessons/lessons.htm) You have to do a little bit of digging, but it is doable if you stay on top of it. There are even videos you can practice with.

I'm also going to start a composite of phrases found in the Korean school cirriculum so they can be taught in class. Not to give up on the speaking parts. But a little sign language would go a long way in helping her participate in class and in the passing of classroom instructions. Also in speaking exams.

Thanks for the tips and good luck to all of you who are striving to make a difference in your student's lives!

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