Saturday, March 21, 2009

I'm home again!

Hello dahlings... I'm home again!

Yes, I survived a day trip to Rochester and I didn't get shot at or run off the road (sorry, that's an old joke we Can'tadians have about going into the USA -- and I will note that times are really that much better in terms of safety and getting around now, so kudos all around).

It was a great trip to Rochester Institute of Technology. My two learners are now total converts to going there - actually, one of them has already decided on going to RIT, but the other one was in a state of uncertainty about what he wanted to do with his future. After seeing there were a few dozens other kids just like him there, he was all gung-ho about wanting to go to RIT.

The problem is that in Canada, there's not a single university with a program dedicated to the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Believe it or not. By that, I mean, a college run by Deaf administrators with Deaf professors and mostly-Deaf students. There's only three colleges in North America that has such programs -- Gallaudet University in Washington DC, National Technical Institute for the Deaf at RIT, and California State University - Northridge. We do have programs for the Deaf in Canada, but they're mainstreamed with hearing classes with an interpreter and/or notetakers. Having an interpreter is simply not the same thing -- picture yourself taking a business studies class with a teacher speaking in Romanian and an interpreter doing his/her best to translate the info into English for you, then you have to take the handouts and organize them into a format that you will understand. Now multiply this by four years.

But hey, it's nice to have something out there for the Deaf, and it's nice to be able to get away from my home area and explore new areas, so I enjoyed the opportunity to explore the Rochester area and to set up new pipelines with the International admissions coordinator for future reference. Hopefully I'll get to make a few more trips to Rochester over the next few years - road trips are fun when they're on the college's dime.


Zombs said...

Hey Pepe! Rochester in March, how lovely. *snicker*

My kids preschool teacher taught the students basic sign language, mostly to the words of songs and I always thought it was great. Why don't they continue throughout school? Wouldn't that help everyone? It helped my son who was speech delayed. He taught himself the whole signing alphabet from YouTube when he was 3!

My other question is that I know there is American Sign Language. Is there other sign languages for other conuntries? How much of a difference is it?

Molaholic said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Molaholic said...

I'm also quite surprised to learn that there are no Canadian university programs for deaf students. I hope that there's limited bureaucracy involved in getting to the US sites.

I'm still curious, as an educator, about how deaf students are taught reading. Since the "sound it out" strategy would be basically meaningless. Can you recommend some resources?


Pepe said...

Heh, Zombs... Rochester was actually quite pleasant on the day we were there, even if they did have a little dusting of snow overnight just before we got there.

It used to be the butt of jokes, but Rochester has built itself into a great little town these days and was even ranked as the city with the number one quality of life in the U.S. by one particular set of criteria (I'm sure, though, you could twist any series of criteria to make it fit your city's way). It's nothing like the Rochester that I remember from my first visit about 23 or so years ago.

There are, in fact, many different sign languages in the world and most of the 'big' nations have their own. Many signs have similar roots much like some written languages have similar roots (i.e. no/non/nein/nyet for the word "no").

We have LSQ in Quebec in addition to American Sign Language that is prevalent in North America. You could easily get by in a foreign country conversing with other deaf people using base signs and gestures -- it's actually easier to pick up a foreign sign language than it is to pick up a written foreign language because many of the subtleties are similar.

Pepe said...

Hey Mole...

In our case, we don't bother with any phonetic strategies, but instead we focus more on vocabulary-building activities and grammar rules to teach English. Our approach is very visual - we don't just write it out on the whiteboard, we also focus on what goes with what in a typical sentence and use real life examples to show how to expand on the grammatical rules.

For example, I might start with "A cup is on the table", then through various role-playing acts it eventually becomes "This red cup is besides the Shakespeare book on the brown table" all the while explaining which is which (this as compared to that, using a preposition, adjectives, etc.).

Pepe said...

Learners really do learn a lot more through visual interactions this way than through the old ways that most elementary or high school kids learned -- by sitting motionlessly in a desk while the teacher drones on.

Sure, it might take a little longer to go through everything, but the objective isn't to turn them into Shakespeare scholars but rather into useful members of society with skills they can actually use in an office or factory - they're not going to be reciting "Othello" on a factory line or while operating a forklift. They're not going to be thinking of Chekhov's writings while studying for their teacher's certification so they could go on and teach other deaf children in the future.

Puffy said...

Puffy <---- California State University, Northridge graduate.