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UCLan and Zhongzhou University win UK-China academic exchange grant for English and Deaf Studies teaching

1 February, 2016

We are pleased to congratulate our colleague Dr Junhui Yang for leading a successful bid to host an academic exchange with China’s Zhongzhou University (ZZU) under the British Council’s UK-China Partnership Innovation Challenge Fund.

junhui_yang staff photo

Dr Junhui Yang, senior lecturer in BSL & Deaf Studies, and principal investigator in the project

The partnership for this also includes Prof Ulrike Zeshan, Director of iSLanDS; Lynne Barnes, BSL and Deaf Studies Academic Lead; Prof Meng Fanling, Dean at ZZU’s Special Education College; and Han Jianyun, English Instructor at the college.

Professor Meng Fanling at ZZU

Prof Meng Fanling, Dean of the Special Education College at ZZU

ZZU is a comprehensive university in Zhengzhou, and its Special Education College boasts the largest number of deaf students in China and ran the first Chinese Sign Language Interpreter degree course. During the project period, six lecturers from ZZU will visit UCLan, and then six from UCLan will travel to ZZU. They will create an online platform for teaching English and topics from Deaf Studies through Chinese Sign Language, as well as giving lectures, showcasing cultural artwork, learning each other’s sign languages, producing text- and sign-based multimedia materials, and researching use of the platform.

ZZU English class Peer teaching on 24 Dec  2015 by Han Jianyun

Forty first-year deaf students at an English class at ZZU last December. Student Cao Xiaochao is at front. (Photo by Ms Han Jianyun, their teacher and our project partner)

Dr Yang commented: “I am delighted to achieve this grant for UK-China academic exchange and innovative research in a new and developing academic field. It is a privilege to share the wealth of expertise in e-learning platforms here at UCLan so that more deaf students will have the opportunity to learn English literacy and Deaf Studies content with the use of online resources and sign language.”

Prof Zeshan said iSLanDS is particularly delighted that this project offers a chance to further extend its on-going work on deaf literacy, which is being pursued with partners at Lancaster University and in India, Ghana, and Uganda. She added: “Adapting some of these literacy teaching approaches to suit the needs of deaf learners in China is an exciting opportunity that we look forward to.”

This project emboldens a fruitful partnership between ZZU’s Special Education College and UCLan’s School of Journalism, Language and Communication, which began in 2014 with collaboration to organise the SIGN7 International Conference of Sign Language Users at ZZU. We are thrilled to be part of this project team and would like to thank all our colleagues in China and Britain who worked hard to make this bid possible.


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