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Call for abstracts: Symposium on sociolinguistic variation in signed and spoken languages of the Asia-Pacific region, 12-13 July 2019

13 February, 2019

We are pleased to invite abstracts for our symposium on sociolinguistic variation in signed and spoken languages of the Asia-Pacific region, to be held on 12-13 July 2019 at UCLan. This event, which is also supported by the Leverhulme Trust, features keynote presenters Rachel McKee from the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand and Susanne Maria Michaelis from the University of Leipzig in Germany. The abstract deadline is 30 March.

There is a rich array of sociolinguistic research on spoken languages in the Asia-Pacific region, but less on sign languages. This symposium seeks to bring together sociolinguists and other scholars in related fields to share research on both spoken and signed languages in Asia and the Pacific Rim. Areas of interest include:

  • language variation and change
  • bilingual and multilingual practices, e.g. code-switching and code-blending
  • dialectology
  • variationist sociolinguistics
  • variation and language attitudes
  • variation and language ideologies
  • styles, identity and social meaning

The languages of the symposium are English, International Sign and British Sign Language. There is no registration fee. We welcome abstracts of one page (including data and references), which should be submitted by 30 March 2019 in electronic form (Word or PDF) to Notification of acceptance will be made by 15 April.

If you have any queries or need further details, please contact Nick Palfreyman at Symposium

Congratulations to our Co-Director and Reader, Dr Nick Palfreyman

5 December, 2018

We are delighted to share that Dr Nick Palfreyman, formerly our Research Fellow, is now a Reader and the Co-Director of iSLanDS. We hope you will join us in congratulating him on this well-deserved achievement, an outcome of his outstanding research and project work and key role in our iSLanDS hub development.

Nick commented: “I was delighted to become a Reader, and I’d like to thank everyone who has supported me over the past few years. I look forward to the next stage of my journey at iSLanDS, and to continuing our work with amazing deaf communities around the world.”



UNESCO launches sign language questionnaire as part of new Survey of World Languages

17 October, 2018

We would like to share that UNESCO has launched a new sign language questionnaire as part of their Survey of World Languages. This survey goes beyond language endangerment, and aims to collect a wide range of data on the number of signed and spoken languages and information about the use of each language. UNESCO hope that this evidence will lead to greater promotion and safeguarding of linguistic diversity, empowering governments to enact policies in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and UNESCO’s Recommendation Concerning the Promotion and Use of Multilingualism and Universal Access to Cyberspace.

The sign language questionnaire, spoke language questionnaire, and instructions are available here in English, Russian, Spanish and French.

English literacy and Deaf Multiliteracies workshop in China

2 October, 2018

The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and Zhengzhou Institute of Technology (ZIT, formally named Zhongzhou University, ZZU) in Zhengzhou, China, have been working on a project sponsored by the British Council’s UK-China Partnership Innovation Challenge Fund. The project entitled “Academic exchanges regarding teaching English and Deaf Studies with an online multimedia platform” (2016-2018) is led by UCLan’s Dr. Junhui Yang, with collaboration from iSLanDS. The UK-China project teams presented English Literacy teaching /Deaf multiliteracies workshops during an academic staff exchange trip from the UK to Beijing and Zhengzhou.

On 10 September 2018, a workshop was held at the special education college, Zhengzhou Institute of Technology. The workshop participants were 18 Deaf teachers of Chinese Sign Language and 6 hearing teachers of English language, 10 college students, post-graduate students and interpreter-trainees. In addition to Zhengzhou, participants joined the workshop from Jiangsu Normal University (Xuzhou), Tianjin Institution of Technology, Shanghai CSLized Culture Centre, and Yantai Ailong Sign Language Research Centre (Shandong Province).

Some of the Chinese participants stated that their previous experiences of learning English had been unsuccessful because they relied on memorisation only and it was difficult to remember everything. After the deaf literacy workshop, the participants commented that learning through this functional approach, with the use of objects containing everyday English, was a much more effective way to learn. A few teachers commented that the workshops made them realise that deaf students can achieve in learning English as a foreign language.

UZ spreading the project   mef

Presentation on international literacy projects                           Learners with a sample text


Below are some further comments that participants shared with the project team:

“The use of sign language to explain how English works, and how to master specific grammatical aspects, was very effective, as it gave them a visual explanation to aid understanding.” —- Jiao Yuyi

“There are not enough functional resources used in the teaching of English in China, and more resources are needed. The workshop improved their confidence to create materials by recording themselves translating from English to Chinese Sign language.”  —- Zhang Peng

“It is wonderful to see sign language coming out from the underground and being taken seriously as a language of instruction in education.” —- Gail Caudrelier

“The use of mobile phone technology was incredible to see, and is clearly essential in everyday life in China. The need to use English is increased with such technologies and may increase motivation and necessity to learn English in the near future.” —- Nicola Nunn

UZ group photo



Presentations by “Deaf Multiliteracies” teams in Uganda, South Africa, and India

2 October, 2018

The iSLanDS international project partners in our “Peer to Peer Deaf Multiliteracies” project have presented initial findings from our research. In India, Deepu Manavalamamuni and Jagdish Choudhari presented on “Literacies in Context: Engaging deaf primary school children in their learning and assessment” at the “International Conference on Learning 2018” at Delhi University.

Delhi conf 2  Delhi Univ 1

In Uganda, the project team led by Noah Ahereza from the Uganda National Association of the Deaf gave a presentation at the “International conference on child poverty: What works for Africa’s poorest children?” in Kampala. Their presentation was entitled “Working on “multiliteracies” with deaf primary school children in Uganda”, and was part of a panel of four presentations organised by the ESRC-DFID Raising Learning Outcomes programme, in which our project participates.

what works 1 what works conf 2

These two presentations have showcased our first-time work with young deaf children, and the way in which we encourage overall linguistic and metalinguistic development in sign language, reading and writing, and other communicative skills. In addition, the Ugandan team gave a presentation at the “Ugandan Sign Language Symposium 2018.”

Ugandan SL symposium

Dr. Anthony Mugeere from Makerere University, Uganda, and Prof. George Akanlig-Pare (with Marco Nyarko) from the University of Ghana gave presentations at an international symposium in Johannesburg, South Africa. The contribution from Ghana entitled “The language of education policy in Ghana: The dilemma of deaf education and the contribution from Uganda on Governance and ethics in deaf education in Uganda” both highlighted findings from our project’s research question regarding structural barriers in educational systems with respect to deaf sign language users.


Thanks to the University of Warsaw and 144 participants from 20 countries for SIGN9 success

5 September, 2018

We would like to thank our colleagues at the University of Warsaw in Poland for hosting the ninth conference in our SIGN series last month. SIGN9 was an outstanding addition to the series, attracting 144 researchers from 20 countries and featuring 24 presentations, 2 workshops, and 10 posters. We are also grateful to all of our presenters and participants for making this event such a success.










SIGN9 programme available online – early bird deadline 31 May

2 May, 2018

We’re pleased to share that the programme for SIGN9, the ninth conference in our innovative SIGN series, is now available online. Please visit the website of the conference host, the University of Warsaw, for full details.

The early bird deadline for registration is 31 May. We look forward to receiving your registration and seeing you in Warsaw this August.

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