European Framework part 3
European Framework part 3
You will also be able to access an additional useful document produced by the Council of
Europe. It consists of six headers/columns on which I will shortly elaborate.
There is a further section which list six, rather than the four modalities previously referred to:
Hear, speak, read and write alongside the three BSL elements: Reception, production and
comprehension of BSL literature. The additional two are understanding and listening/reading
in relation to understanding. This fifth and sixth elements focus on understanding. The
concept of understanding is particularly important when learning languages and this, of
course, applies to BSL language acquisition too.
Reception is only one level of the process and in addition to receiving information one has to
process and give it meaning. This is where the information received makes sense to the
receiver. In essence it has been understood. And so these two additional elements need to be
added to the three BSL elements.
The same rational is surely applicable to the understanding - listening/reading element despite
the use of the term listen. Although it may appear complicated it is suggested that this
elements holds equal relevance to the BSL modalities.
This is where the concept of culture is introduced. The test of whether someone has fully
comprehended information in BSL is measured by their cultural knowledge. This knowledge
is the decisive factor.
The learner needs to have levels of cultural understanding in order to digest and give meaning
to the information. This is most definitely a key factor when learning BSL.
Ascertaining these six BSL modalities will put you in a good position to develop these
elements concentrating on skills, assessments and levels of expectation. This in turn places
you in a better position to discuss BSL language learning with other professionals of spoken
languages. By the use of similar terms and common bench marks discussions are far more
productive because everyone understands the nature of the conversation and the measures
being used. Furthermore you become well equipped to attend subject relevant conferences or
seminars and contribute on an equal footing. There is no reason why you can't give
presentations and lectures which will be well received since a common understanding and
appreciation of language acquisition will exists.
All in all working with the European Framework raises the status of BSL on a par with
spoken languages and other professionals will understand more easily references and
discussion around BSL. It will give sign language greater prominence.
It might be helpful to use Stokoe's work as an example. When Stokoe first began conducting
sign language research it was clear that spoken language research was well established along
with existing linguistic terms. Stokoe's research identified sign language parameters
equivalent to spoken language phonemes, which he originally referred to as cheremes, a term
that he coined.
The downside of using separate linguistic terms is that there was a danger of isolating sign
language further. Linguists did understand the term and perhaps did not afford it the
linguistic value it deserved. This prompted discussion around the viability of separate terms
rather than existing linguistic terms. It could be argued that common terms and language
within the field of linguistic study and research would promote the status of sign language.
The same principles applies here highlighting the significant of using a common framework
which lead to further appreciation of sign language within the field of language and linguistic
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