BAASLS 2013 graduates triumph in teaching and research
The iSLanDS Institute is excited to share the success of several 2013 graduates from our BA Applied Sign Language Studies (BAASLS) course, which is based in India. These graduates, who come from many different parts of the world, have already made significant headway into their chosen fields thanks in part to their achievements on BAASLS. A number of graduates are now working on short research contracts including in India and in Mexico, while others are planning placements at deaf educational institutions across India.
Graduate Guan Xuesong from China now works as a teacher at a deaf university, the Special Education College of Zhongzhou University. He said that he chose this job because as a deaf person, he wants to share his knowledge from BAASLS with Chinese deaf students. He explained that the linguistic and cultural knowledge he gained on the course has been instrumental in helping him attain and succeed in his new teaching post. He commented:
“Applied sign language linguistics is an entirely new course and research area. Whether we are language researchers or Deaf community members, this course is very necessary. Looking back at my four years of university, I can see the BAASLS course does not only teach students about linguistics. More importantly, it allows the Deaf community to recognise their language, the value of sign language. There is also an introduction to Deaf culture, which increased our Deaf identity.”
Mr Xuesong added: “I really hope this course can be established in my home country. Because there are more than 20 million deaf people in China, we need this new knowledge, even though I know we have a long way to go.”
Mr Xuesong wants to thank all of the teachers on BAASLS, including a special thanks to Professor Ulrike Zeshan, for the guidance which enabled him to progress in his studies.
Graduate Kakooza Muhammed, from Uganda, is developing an independent research project on sign language number variation in Ugandan Sign Language and Somalia Sign Language. He also plans to enrol in a Masters course on special needs education. He said:
“Being a late deafened person, the BAASLS course has exposed me to a wealth of experience about sign language and the Deaf community. Through this course, I have managed to acquire new skills in analysing sign language data using ELAN software, which I hope will be useful in carrying out independent research. The course has also helped me to create activities to support the language development of deaf children.”
Graduate Cesar Ernesto Escobedo Delgado, from Mexico, is an expert on Chican Sign Language in Yucatan, and cooperates with the Chican community to help them document and protect their unique language. He has been involved in this work since 2008, and is currently in the final stages of producing a Chican Sign Language dictionary with Ishara Press. He said:
“Getting the BAASLS qualification has equipped me to make a real contribution to revitalising Chican Sign Language, which is very close to my heart. We want the Mexican government to recognise that many people in this community are bilinguals who use both Mexican Sign Language and Chican Sign Language. The dictionary will help preserve and promote Chican SL as a distinct language. There are several village communities like this around the world, where a minority sign language is at risk from diaspora and the influence of an urban sign language. The knowledge I gained on BAASLS is helping me to bring Chican SL to the attention of both national and international bodies.”
He added: “In Latin American universities, applied linguistics relates only to spoken languages, and there is no course like BAASLS. I was keen to join the course and found it had an accessible, supportive, ‘can-do’ atmosphere. Meeting people from such a variety of countries and linguistic backgrounds was amazing, and really opened my mind. It was quite a challenge to get to grips with Indian Sign Language, which has a completely different structure from other languages I use.”
Since 20 July, graduate Babloo Kumar has been working as an Indian Sign Language (ISL) teacher at the National Institute of Speech and Hearing (NISH), Trivandrum, in Kerala, India. His class includes deaf students as well as both hearing and deaf staff. He said classroom activities based on cutting-edge linguistic research into ISL are a key part of his teaching method. He commented:
“I first thought of achieving a BA in sign language linguistics in November 2007 after the Ishara Foundation announced a university course for deaf students in Mumbai. In 2009, I heard about the launch of BAASLS from my friends and was very happy that I finally had the opportunity to apply. I joined the course that August.”
“I feel so pleased about my 4-year BA course and have more confidence, motivation and success in my life because of it. In addition to giving me linguistic knowledge, the course gave me a different impression of my previous educational experiences, and made me realise why my knowledge was poor in the past. I would like to thank UCLan, Professor Ulrike Zeshan and our course leader Sibaji Panda for helping all of us Deaf university students in India to improve our skills.”
Mr Kumar added that he now wants to study for an MA and become a lecturer and researcher. His goal is to teach English literacy skills to Deaf people and encourage them to achieve university-level qualifications. He said currently there is no MA course in sign language linguistics in India, so he has applied for an MA in English literature, as a distance course, at the University of Kerala.
Many congratulations to all of the BAASLS 2013 graduates from the staff, students and associates of iSLanDS.
For more information on BAASLS or our certificate courses, please email course leader Sibaji Panda (firstname.lastname@example.org).