Upcoming Event: Language Education Policies for Deaf Children

We are delighted to confirm our next EdSign lecture by Dr John Bosco Conama from Trinity College Dublin, on Tuesday 6 November, 6.30PM, at Deaf Action:

Who decides? – Language education policies for Deaf children
Selected findings from a comparative analysis of Finnish and Irish policies on signed languages

John will talk about comparative language education policies in Finland and Ireland. He will present his research discussing different components that influence language educational policies. Showing excerpts from interviews and commenting on the situation in Finland and Ireland, John highlights equality issues around language education policies in general.
Date: Tuesday, 6 November 2012
Time: 6.30pm-8.30pm
Venue: Deaf Action, 49 Albany Street, Edinburgh EH1 3QY

Language: The lecture will be presented in International Sign, and there will be interpretation into English and BSL.

The event is open to everybody and you do not need to book in advance, but spaces are limited, so arrive early.

On a different note, the consultation on the proposed British Sign Language
(BSL) Bill in Scotland is still open, but the deadline is approaching soon: 31 October 2012.
Please take a look at the BSL documents. Responses and petitions should be sent to Mark Griffin MSP, Room M1:20, Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh EH99 1SP.

We look forward to seeing you all soon,

The EdSign Lectures team

Thank You!

On behalf of the LifeinLINCS team, I would like to send a huge thank you to everyone who has posted, reposted and commented on LifeinLINCS posts recently. I would especially like to thank all those who have contributed to the incredible success of the blog in the past two days.

Until Monday, our most successful day was November 8th, last year when excitement for Graham Turner’s post, Broken Britain: Blame the Interpreters, meant that we received a respectable 757 page views. On Monday, that record was not just broken but smashed. Facebook and twitter, along with other superb interpreting blogs like the Interpreter Diaries  and TerpsTube  got the world stirred up about 7 Ways To Annoy Interpreters. It might have been the ironic humour, it might have been a hint of self-recognition, it might even have had something to do with the fact that interpreters tend not to have an “off” switch.

Whatever it was, it meant that the blog received 1,238 views, not far off double the previous record. And then the incredible happened. Just when we thought everything was getting back to normal, word spread even further. Yesterday, thanks to visitors from the USA, Italy, Spain, Brazil and Russia, as well as the UK, you beat the record again. By the time I woke up this morning, the picture was clear: yesterday alone, LifeinLINCS received two thousand, two hundred and ninety-one visits. 2,291!

Well, what good does this do? As well as giving the profile of Heriot-Watt University and especially LINCS a boost, it also points to a nice future for the profession. You see, yesterday alone, 36 people clicked on links sending them to info on Interpreter training. Over the last 30 days, an additional 24 people have done the same. If nothing else, it seems that Monday’s article has managed to increase enthusiasm for interpreting as a career and that can only be a good thing.

So, give yourself a pat on the back and please accept our sincere thanks.

And, if you know of anyone looking to train as an interpreter or a translator, feel free to use the links below.

For undergraduate degrees (including the new degree in BSL Translation and Interpreting) use this link: bit.ly/HWLincsCourses

For postgraduate degrees in translation and interpreting, use this link: bit.ly/HWPostGrad

Word Up!

After years of dithering and de-prioritisation, it seems parliamentary action to address the decline in British citizens’ language learning is finally approaching. The Holyrood and Westminster governments are announcing plans for change, trying to put the brakes on a decade of implosion which has seen the numbers of young people taking foreign language qualifications at schools decimated. In 2010, 43% of pupils aged 15-16 were entered for a language in national examinations, down from a peak of 75% in 2002.

In London, the focus will be on English and other languages. The education secretary, Michael Gove, will promise a new focus on spelling and grammar when he sets out his plans for the teaching of English in primary schools later this week. Children as young as five will be expected to learn and recite poetry by heart in England. He will also put forward proposals to make learning a foreign language compulsory for pupils from the age of seven.

In May 2012, a study commissioned by the Scottish government said children in Scotland should begin learning a second language as soon as they start school at the age of five. The recommendations – made by the government’s Modern Languages Working Group  – also suggest that children should start to learn a third language before they reach 10 years old.

If this seems radical in a British context, it certainly isn’t unusual within Europe. Last year, the Edinburgh-based Consuls General of France, Germany, Spain, Italy and China joined forces to warn that Scotland needed to take modern languages more seriously. Scottish exports to these five nations alone were worth £4.52bn in 2009, representing about 21% of Scotland’s total international exports.

There are so many reasons for supporting these proposals. For a start, it’s easier for pupils to learn new languages when they’re young. They’ll become more fluent and the learning process will be more fun. Learning early will also help them to develop skills in their first language. And it will confer general cognitive benefits which will assist their all-round personal development.

Of course, many of these benefits can also be gained from learning indigenous languages other than English, and there is evidence of Gaelic being more popular than German in some Scottish schools . The current campaign to introduce school qualifications in British Sign Language  also looks set to be highly popular with pupils, and to promise significant broadening of linguistic, cultural and social horizons amongst students.

Still, as good as these plans may be, they won’t work unless there are teachers capable of delivering them. Modern languages have not hitherto been seen as a major priority – it’s future teachers of maths and sciences who qualify for the most generous ‘golden hellos’ (). Still, Throughout the UK, there appears to be belated recognition that it is never too soon for children to start on the path to bilingualism but is it too little, too late? Let us know what you think in the “Comments” box below.


Author: Graham Turner