Moving Languages Project

Moving Languages_Logo_white backgr

A mobile phone is proven to be a crucial tool for newly arrived migrants’ and refugees’ wellbeing and integration into their host country.

Dr Katerina Strani from LINCS is leading the UK team of the Moving Languages project. Moving Languages is a 27-month Erasmus+ project (2016-1-FI01-KA204-022678) led by Learnmera Oy in Finland. It has six partners in Finland, Sweden, Spain, Austria, Italy and the UK. The aim of the project is to develop a language app for newly arrived migrants.

Migration in the EU has been rapidly growing in recent times, especially in light of the troubled political situation in Middle Eastern countries. For this reason, it is of great importance to provide tools to support the integration of migrants and refugees arriving in Europe.

Language learning is one of the key priorities of successful integration. Mobile applications are an effective educational source that can be specifically designed for migrants and refugees, as a considerable percentage of them are digitally literate, own smartphones and are looking for new opportunities online in their host countries.

This project provides a gamified language-learning solution. It is available in English, Spanish, Italian, German, Swedish, Finnish and the three languages most widely spoken by refugees/migrants in the partner countries. The application will not only help them to learn the local language(s), but it will also introduce them to new cultural concepts in their host countries.

Designed to cater to different levels of linguistic competence, this application will also be useful for people who have already been living and working in their new home country for some time. The content of the mobile application covers topics that are essential during the first steps of living in the host country. It contains 2,000-2,500 illustrated vocabulary items for easy concept recognition. This free application will be available for download from all major app stores from June 2018.

The Moving Languages project started in September 2016 and it will finish in November 2018. For more information, please visit the project website http://movinglanguages.eu or contact Dr Katerina Strani.

DESIGNS: Employment in Deaf signing communities

by Jemina Napier

Designs

Click here to see post in BSL.

On 12th and 13th January 2017, the kick-off meeting for the DESIGNs project (Deaf Employment for Sign Language Users in the EU) took place in Dublin, Ireland.

The 30-month project is modeled on the recently completed Justisigns project, which was funded through the European Commission’s former Leonardo Da Vinci Lifelong Learning programme and produced a range of resources for Deaf communities, sign language interpreters and police officers relating to deaf people’s access to justice in police settings (see here for video summarizing key outcomes).

The DESIGNS project is funded through the current European Commission’s ERASMUS+ Key Action 2 Strategic Partnerships, and brings together 7 partners from 4 EU countries who are renowned experts in the fields of Deaf Studies research, education and training, employment, sign language interpreting and Deaf community advocacy.

The project is promoted by the Interesource Group Ireland, and the partners are the Centre for Deaf Studies at Trinity College Dublin (Ireland), the Department of Languages & Intercultural Studies at Heriot-Watt University (UK), the Deaf Studies Group at the Humboldt University of Berlin (Germany), the European Union of the Deaf and the European Forum of Sign Language Interpreters (Belgium) and AHEAD – Association for Higher Education, Access and Disability (Ireland).

There is a direct link between early education, attainment of professional and/or educational qualifications, advancement into the labour market and social inclusion. Apart from financial autonomy, work and paid employment serves to develop a sense of belonging with positive mental health benefits and identification with the wider community (National Disability Authority, 2005). However, Deaf people continue to face barriers in education, employment and access to services such in healthcare, legal and social welfare settings.

In a report on poverty in the Deaf community, Conama and Grehan (2001) state that Deaf people experience higher rates of poverty, social exclusion and employment. Factors such leaving school with no examination nor qualifications, inadequate support for the use of sign language has resulted in a worrying picture and 80% of Deaf adults have literacy problems compared to 25% of the population as a whole.

Research and data on unemployment is under reported and inaccurate. “Deafness and hearing loss” is often used to report data, and sign language users who are Deaf is under-researched. The World Federation of the Deaf also reports that figures on (un)employment are inaccurate and difficult to quantify (Hauland & Allen, 2009).

The overall aim of the project is to create research-driven, evidence-based VET and CPD training resources and exchange best practices across Europe to facilitate greater participation of Deaf sign language users in employment.

This will be achieved by developing the following work package products:

  1. Creating training packages for deaf job seekers who are reported to be un- or under-employed;
  2. Creating training packages for employers to increase their awareness of deaf job applicants and job candidates to so that deaf job applicants have a better chance in succeeding in employment
  3. Creating training packages for sign language interpreters as part of their continuous professional development to understand the nature of interpreting in employment settings

The kick off meeting in Dublin involved the research consortium getting together to discuss and plan project milestones and tasks. In addition, a ‘townhall’ meeting was held in cooperation with the Irish Deaf Society at Deaf Village Ireland, to launch the project to local Deaf community members by giving an overview of various issues related to deaf people and employment and a description of the project. The event was live streamed through the Irish Deaf Society’s Facebook page, and the video can still be seen with presentations interpreted between English and International Sign.

The research input from Heriot-Watt University is being led by Professor Jemina Napier and a deaf research assistant will join the team at a later date. A newly arrived deaf PhD student – Mette Sommer –  will be conducting research on the lived experiences of deaf people at work – so her research will also complement the DESIGNS project.

The goal will be for Heriot-Watt University to cooperate with key stakeholder organisations in Scotland, including the British Deaf Association, Action on Hearing Loss, the Scottish Association of Sign Language Interpreters and the Association of Sign Language Interpreters UK, Deaf Action’s Employability Service.

A community information event will be hosted at Heriot-Watt University sometime in the coming months, so keep an eye out for information about the event and the project.

 

Back to Holyrood

by Fanny Chouc

Heriot-Watt MSc interpreting students have been getting a taste of the “real thing” this Thursday and will do so again next Thursday: they’re putting their interpreting skills to the test, during a live parliamentary debate at Scottish Parliament, and they’ll be practicing from the actual interpreting booths of the Scottish Parliament.

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Thanks to a long-standing cooperation with Holyrood, the seat of the Scottish Parliament, we’ve been able to give our 2016-2017 cohort a chance to experience a real professional booth, during an authentic event. Students are organized in small groups and split between the two main interpreting booths overlooking the main debating chamber. They practise live, simultaneous interpreting from interventions from the presiding officers and MSPs, under the supervision of lecturers who are also experienced conference interpreters.

Of course, microphones remain switched off: it’s only practice after all, and students are half-way through their training. But this type of proper situated learning experience, set in a genuine work environment, provides students with a unique chance to test their skills and observe a number of challenges which aren’t always easy to integrate in a classroom setting.

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This unique interpreting training experience has been the object of a study by Chouc and Conde, and there are many benefits for students: they are confronted, in the space of 2 ½ hours, with a range of Scottish accents, but also various paces or style of expression. They also become more aware of the type of procedural jargon used in parliamentary business, observing recurring turns of phrases used to present a motion, formally adopt it or to address the various stakeholders. They encounter passionate speeches, arguments, technical terms familiar to MSPs, but which can be challenging for students who don’t use this type of terminology daily. It also puts their awareness of current and local affairs to the test, since the parliament handles a range of matters very much determined by the news, as well as issues that every community faces.

But more than anything, students get a feel for the career they want to embrace: it’s a test of stamina, as they remain in the booths for the full duration of the session (over 2h). It’s also an opportunity to learn how to work in teams, as students all work in pairs or as a trio: they assist each other, discuss solutions and glossary, and gradually adopt the behaviour of professional interpreters, sitting side-by-side, and scribbling the words, acronyms, names or figures their colleagues may need. They also take it in turn to listen to their peers as pure users, thus applying their critical skills to a live performance. This is a crucial step in developing their own self-assessment and monitoring skills.

Ultimately, though, it remains an exciting and inspiring opportunity, and students leave the booths motivated, focused, and better aware of the demands of a professional interpreting assignment. And that takes them one step closer to professional booths in international institutions!

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The Translating the Deaf Self project: Wrapping up and what’s next?

By Jemina Napier, Alys Young, Rosemary Oram, Robert Skinner & Noel O’Connell

Click here to see a BSL version of the blog, presented by Rosemary Oram.

In two previous LifeinLINCS blog posts in March 2016 and August 2016, we have provided an overview of our Translating the Deaf Self project. The AHRC Translating Cultures research innovation grant for this project has meant that we have been able to carry out a scoping study of an area that has not yet been explored in the literature of Deaf Studies, Interpreting Studies, Applied Sign Linguistics or Applied Social Research. Our research focused on what it is like for Deaf sign language users to be known largely through translation and what the consequences might be for wellbeing.

Our research questions were as follows:

  1. How is translation constitutive of Deaf cultures in their formation, projection and transformation?
  2. What is the impact of consistently experiencing existence to others as a translated-self on personal identity, achievement and well-being?

After interviews with Deaf sign language users, sign language interpreters, hearing colleagues of Deaf people, and parents with deaf children, our findings reveal that

  1. The shared experience among Deaf sign language users of being known through translation could be considered as part of Deaf cultural identity but more research is needed to really understand this; and
  2. The experience of consistently experiencing existence to others as a translated-self has an impact on personal identity, achievement and well-being for Deaf sign language users. That impact is not always positive but it is recognized by Deaf people some of whom make deliberate adjustments in everyday life to combat negative effects and maximize the positive. Interpreters too are professionally conscious of their role in the ‘translated Deaf self’ and the dilemmas it brings up in terms of representation to others.
  3. From hearing people’s point of view in workplace relationships with Deaf colleagues, representation and identity are obscured often by a fascination with the interpreter. Even when hearing colleagues attempt to ‘get past’ the interpreter and seek out what they perceive as the ‘real’ Deaf person they can miss the important point that the Deaf person and their language are not inseparable.  There is no hidden self ‘despite’ an interpreter.

As this project was a new exploration of this concept, it is clear that more research is needed on this topic.

Disseminating the findings

We are in the process of writing up our findings, and will submit them for publications.

So far we have also given several conference presentations as follows:

  • Oram, R., Napier, J., Young, A., & Skinner, R., (2016). Critical links between Deaf culture, well being and interpreting: Translating the Deaf Self. Poster presented to the Critical Link 8: Interpreting in the Community Conference, Edinburgh, 29 June – 1 July 2016.
  • Napier, J., Oram, R., Skinner, R., & Young, A. (2016). Translating the Deaf Self: Deaf culture in practice and being ‘known’ through interpreting. Association of Sign Language Interpreters UK Conference, Newcastle, 1-2 October 2016.
  • Napier, J., Oram, R., Young, A., Skinner, & O’Connell, N. (2016). Translating the Deaf Self: An example of innovation in university-community research engagement. Bridging the Gap conference, Brighton, 12th November 2016.

 

And will be giving another one in 2017:

Napier, J., Young, A., Oram, R., & Skinner, R. (2017). Translating the Deaf Self: The lived experience of being ‘known’ through interpreting. Symposium on Sign Language Interpreting & Translation Research, Gallaudet University, Washington, DC, March 2017.

 In collaboration with two Deaf-led production companies, AC2.Com and Mutt & Jeff Pictures, we produced three short films in BSL to encapsulate some of the key themes that had come up in our data. The films are not an attempt to summarise the findings, but to highlight some key issues that our participants discussed, which we can use to generate more conversations about the concept of the ‘Translated Deaf Self’.

We have not yet made the videos public via social media as we are concerned about how people might respond and the potential impact on wellbeing if any content of the videos triggers emotive responses and we cannot be present to talk through those responses. Instead, we have decided to only show the videos when a member of the research team is present to explain the background, contextualise the study and the videos, and is available to talk through responses. But each film has been submitted to the Deaf Fest 2017 Film Festival in the UK, so we hope that they will be shown there.

In September 2016 we hosted an event in collaboration with Action Deafness and the Derby Deaf Club, where we had approximately 75 participants who travelled from all over the country to learn about what we had found in the study, and to participate in a preview of the films. As part of the event, we also had follow up discussion in BSL about how the participants responded to the films and whether they identified with the themes in each film. Showing the films generated a lot of interesting discussion, and has confirmed for us the importance of taking the films around the country to show the British Deaf community.

What’s next?

We plan to apply for further AHRC funding to explore the notion of the Translated Deaf Self in more depth, and hope to continue the partnership with all the people and organisations who were involved in this scoping study. We also plan to apply for AHRC Follow-on Funding for Impact and Engagement in 2017 in order to disseminate the findings and show the videos via a ‘roadshow’.

Acknowledgements

In wrapping up this project, we would like to acknowledge the contributions of many people and organisations, without whom this project would not have been possible:

  • Professor Charles Forsdick, Theme Leader, AHRC Translating Cultures Theme
  • Stakeholder Advisory Group members: Avril Hepner (British Deaf Association Scotland); Carly Brownlie (Scottish Association of Sign Language Interpreters); Jane Worrall (Deaf Connections, Glasgow); Teri Devine (Action on Hearing Loss Scotland); Frankie McLean/ Shaurna Dickson (Deaf Action, Edinburgh);
  • Joel Kelhofer and Ella Leith at AC2.Com/SignLive, and Louis Neethling and Alison Lynch at Mutt & Jeff Pictures for the production of the short films
  • Zoë McWhinney, Research intern at Heriot-Watt University
  • Craig Crowley, CEO; Jaz Mann, Alison Blount at Action Deafness for support with organising Community Participatory Group in Leicester and with film launch event in Derby, and Action Deafness for providing interpreters for the film launch event at no cost to the project.
  • Members of the Derby Deaf Club for helping to organise the catering for the film launch event and for making their premises available for the event
  • Jane Worrall, former CEO of Deaf Connections for assistance with CPG in Glasgow
  • Mark Napier, Managing Director at the Centre for Public Innovation for providing the venue for the focus group in London with interpreters
  • ASLI UK for distributing call for interpreter participants to its members
  • Emmy Kauling for help compiling the final research report.

 

Christmas, Interpreting and Scottish Parliament

By Mathilde Guillemet

group

Edinburgh is dressed in its magical gown. It is covered in Christmas decorations, the Christmas market is on and Santa is just round the corner. Could there be a better time to visit? Well, the seven participants that decided to attend our Intensive Interpreting Practice course certainly didn’t think so.

For the first time this year, LINCS has decided to run this course in December. So seven interpreters gathered in Edinburgh from different part of the world (Sweden, Austria, Russia and even Senegal!) to get together and enhance their interpreting skills.

Our team of professional lecturers have worked with them all through the week, giving them constructive feedback on their output in English from all their working languages. They also received feedback on their Spanish, French and Russian from some lecturers.

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The week was very stimulating and eventful. The participants got a chance at practicing Simultaneous and Consecutive Interpreting in our state of the art interpreting labs. They also took the time to do some revision on their note-taking techniques.

As part of the course, too mock conferences were organised. The topics were: “Accessing medical care: challenges and issues” and “Economy and environment: friends or foes?” These offered the opportunity to students to practice delivering a speech and put themselves in the role of the speaker but also to interpret from real speeches and from a very lively discussion.

To prepare themselves to deliver a speech during these mock conferences, a public speaking session had been organised; because, after all, what is an interpreter if not a public speaker expressing someone else’s ideas?

As all the participants were practising interpreters, it was a good opportunity for networking and for sharing different techniques used by interpreters either when they are interpreting or ahead of the interpreting for preparation.

And finally, as Heriot Watt University has a partnership with the Scottish Parliament, the participants spent one afternoon working in a dummy booth. The Scottish Parliament have four interpreting booths that they kindly open to students of Heriot-Watt University for practice. This was an excellent exercise for our participants, as it allowed them to practice interpreting from a wide range of Scottish accents, a form of English to which they are not necessarily accustomed. It was also a great opportunity to witness the making of Scottish politics!

students from Heriot-Watt University practice simultaneous translation during a session of the Scottish parliament, in Edinburgh.  08 December 2016. Pic-Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament

students from Heriot-Watt University practice simultaneous translation during a session of the Scottish parliament, in Edinburgh. 08 December 2016. Pic-Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament

students from Heriot-Watt University practice simultaneous translation during a session of the Scottish parliament, in Edinburgh.  08 December 2016. Pic-Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament

students from Heriot-Watt University practice simultaneous translation during a session of the Scottish parliament, in Edinburgh. 08 December 2016. Pic-Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament

All our participants had a great time, enjoyed Edinburgh and the content of the course.

One participant said: “I very much appreciated the varied content of the course and the diversity of lecturers. I will without a doubt recommend this course. And many thanks for your precious advice!”

On that note, LINCS would like to wish you all a very merry Christmas.

If you would like some more information on this course and on other CPD courses run by Heriot Watt University please visit our website: https://www.hw.ac.uk/schools/social-sciences/departments/languages-intercultural-studies/intensive-interpreting-practice.htm

Or contact summerschool@hw.ac.uk

 

Active learning at a World Heritage Site

by Cristina Clopot

At the end of November, LINCS students on the Global Heritage course, which is part of the MSc in Cultural Resource Management, went on a visit to the Edinburgh World Heritage Centre.

What better way to compliment academic learning than by a discussion with experienced professionals? Luckily enough we live and work in close proximity to several wonderful examples of World Heritage sites. The Old and New Town of Edinburgh have been part of the World Heritage list since 1995 and the main actor responsible with the management of the site is Edinburgh World Heritage Centre (EWHC).

The visit included a discussion at EWHC followed by an on-foot exploration of some of the UNESCO-protected area, led by EWHC Director, Adam Wilkinson.

In the first part of the visit, Mr. Wilkinson explained the approach to heritage embraced by EWHC in its ethos. Students explored different definitions and concepts of heritage, as well as their applicability. Building on our lecture discussions, we all debated values, meaning and memories, not just mere objects, and gained from the heritage professionals’ view.

The complexity of tasks a world heritage site management activity entails was  also presented through different projects. Several examples were provided to emphasise the numerous stakeholders that need to be consulted (and persuaded in some cases) to begin any conservation activities, from the various owners of flats in a heritage building, to the complex system of authorities and agents who need to agree to undertake restaurant façade change. Several projected activities were also presented and the key takeaway was the thoughtfulness for people’s interaction with the site, keeping the site alive but also potential improvements of life in a historic city. The rest of the visit was an on-foot exploration and discussion of projects developed in the Old Town. We are grateful to Edinburgh World Heritage Centre to have had the chance to present our students with this applied learning experience.

One of our students found food for thought in this visit to reflect on her own heritage:

https://thinkglobalheritage.wordpress.com/2016/11/30/edinburgh-world-heritage/

What about you ?

 

LINCS does music

New project on BSL Syntax !

Our newest BSL team member Dr Jordan Fenlon has been successful in securing an AHRC grant as a Co-Investigator on a project on BSL syntax.
The project aims to document and describe word order and non-manual features in different types of British Sign Language sentences. The project team includes Principal Investigator Kearsy Cormier (University College London) and Co-Investigators Adam Schembri (University of Birmingham) and our own Jordan Fenlon.
Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council UK, the project will run for 3 years from December 2016.
Watch this space for updates on this and other projects in LINCS !

Heriot-Watt University BSL interpreting placements 2016-2017

By Jemina Napier

 <Click here to see this blog post in BSL>

Our first cohort of students from the BSL/English interpreting 4-year undergraduate programme graduated in June 2016. Most of the graduates have registered with either the Scottish Association of Sign Language Interpreters (SASLI) or the National Registers of Communication Professionals with working with Deaf and Deafblind People (NRCPD) as trainee or qualified interpreters, and are already working as interpreters or communication support workers in various settings. Their readiness to work was thanks to the support they received from Deaf community members and professional BSL/English interpreters, who gave them the opportunity to go into real life interpreting assignments and learn outside the classroom. This basically means that students go on interpreting work placement in their 4th year, and shadow working interpreters; they observe interpreting in the real world and are also encouraged to try interpreting in safe environments by their interpreting mentors.

Interpreting work placement in 2016-2017

Based on feedback from mentors and students from last year, we have changed the structure of the interpreting work placement. Instead of doing 70 hours over two 1-week blocks in one semester, we have embedded the placement across the whole academic year. So now students are required to complete 100 hours of shadowing: 25 hours in Semester 1 (October-December) and 75 hours in Semester 2 (January-May). This arrangement gives the students and mentors more flexibility to identify suitable interpreting assignments across a range of different areas.

The aim of the interpreting work placement is to:

  1. To give students the opportunity to access authentic ‘real-world’ interpreting situations
  2. To provide students with the opportunity to observe the professional practice of qualified interpreters at work
  3. To facilitate the opportunity for students to try interpreting in ‘real-world’ interpreting situations, in a safe and supported environment, where appropriate and with the agreement of all parties
  4. To enable students to discuss, critique and reflect on their observations of other interpreters and their own professional practice

Students have to keep a logbook of their observations, and write reflections about what they have learned. This experience equips the students with the skills needed to be reflective practitioners when they go on to work as interpreters.

Once more we would like to publicly acknowledge the interpreters that are giving their time, energy and commitment to supporting these students. Specifically, we thank the list of interpreters below who have agreed to take on students this year:

  1. Paul Belmonte (Edinburgh)
  2. Bruce Cameron (Glasgow)
  3. Andy Carmichael (Edinburgh)
  4. Lesley Crerar (Aberdeen)
  5. Andrew Dewey (Ayr)
  6. Shaurna Dickson (Edinburgh)
  7. Linda Duncan (Fife)
  8. Helen Dunipace (Glasgow)
  9. Marion Fletcher (Edinburgh)
  10. Eddie Foley (Glasgow)
  11. Donna Jewell (Falkirk)
  12. Sheena MacDonald (Edinburgh)
  13. Brenda Mackay (Fife)
  14. Rachel Mapson (Edinburgh)
  15. Paula Marshall (Denny)
  16. Robert McCourt (Glasgow)
  17. Mary McDevitt (Falkirk)
  18. David Milligan (Glasgow)
  19. Nicolle Murdoch (Edinburgh)
  20. David Summersgill (Dunbar)
  21. Linda Thomson (Glasgow)
  22. Yvonne Waddell (Hamilton)

Again we would like to thank the support of SASLI and NRCPD who have endorsed that interpreters can received Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points for acting as mentors.

The students on placement in 2016-2017 are:

  1. Jenna Adams
  2. Sarah Forrester
  3. Amy Hunter
  4. Tanja Jacobs
  5. Christina Kunz
  6. Tommy Malone
  7. Marnie Radmer
  8. Kristina Tandl
  9. Isla Van der Heiden
  10. Sabine Zielinska

We would like to thank Deaf BSL users in Scotland for their continued support of our students, and hope that you will encourage them in their efforts to develop their skills to become professional interpreters.

Foundation Students do Real Research

by Olwyn Alexander  

Teaching English for Academic Purposes (EAP) is about more than developing students’ English language and study skills; it also involves Academic Purposes, i.e. research and scholarship. I’ve been interested for some time in ways to develop the research capability of students with an intermediate level of English proficiency (CEFR B1, IELTS 4.5). I got the opportunity to explore this further with a revision of the Heriot-Watt Foundation English programme, in which the research component is foregrounded. Students now develop their language proficiency within the context of research in their discipline. This required a fundamental rethink about how to present the research process for intermediate level language learners, going back to first principles for research.

I started by asking the Foundation students what they were curious about in their discipline and we noted that children are natural researchers because they are curious about the world. From typical questions children ask, we derived some fundamental questions about research in the disciplines:

For science and engineering

  • What exists?
  • How does it come to exist?
  • What does it do?

For social science

  • What do people think about what exists?
  • Why do people behave the way they do?

We then characterised the concept of research by looking at published definitions and decided that there were four key components:

  • A concept – an abstract idea that forms the basis for a piece of research
  • A real world context in which to study the concept
  • A problem or puzzle in the context that relates to the concept
  • A question that links the concept to the problem in the context.

The research question formulates the problem in a focused way that enables it to be researched and thus to move the discipline forward. Some examples of Foundation students’ research questions:

  • What is the minimum concentration of a chemical pollutant in an indoor environment required to model it accurately?
  • How can Shunfeng [a Chinese logistics company] develop its third party logistics operation effectively?

Foundation students can use the framework to access key ideas in complex research articles. They explore the research activity of members of their discourse community and characterize their research using the same framework. They share their findings in class discussions and complete an assessment task to profile a researcher. All the time, they are expanding their repertoire of academic vocabulary and grammar structures.

The students, all postgraduates, have found the experience to be highly motivating. Just because they have a low language proficiency does not mean they cannot grapple with complex academic concepts as long as these are presented in accessible language.

The challenge for teachers is to operate well outside their comfort zone to engage with ideas their students find motivating but they may find incomprehensible. Is it asking too much of teachers to work in this way?