Teaching Methods part 4

English Notes
BSL Video
Teaching Methods part 4
 
The team also identified another approach during the analysis, called the 'natural approach' and we observed that some curricula are using this approach.  This method is interesting and involves making use of the students' first language.  In the teaching of sign language, which is mainly to hearing people, the students' first language is usually English.  When using this method, the teacher may bring in an interpreter, to interpret what they are signing and allow the students to speak during sessions or the teacher may use a white board and present the information in written English.  
 
So the English language is used in the classroom as well as British Sign Language.  This natural approach allows students to consider a proposition in their first language before being shown how it is articulated in the language being taught and these comparisons continue throughout the course.  Some students like this method but there are some people who feel that there are risks involved here.  Due to the second language being taught being a signed language, there may be delays in the language learning.  Language learning theorists have also stated that this is an interesting approach but they have accepted that using it will result in delays in learning the second language because the students may become dependent on the first language; they may see the comparisons between the two but will revert back to the first language in production.   

This approach is different to grammar translation, the old fashioned method of translating from one language to the other, but interestingly, the underlying principles are still present and the natural approach still makes use of the two languages for language learning.  This approach, however, allows a more natural translation of one language to the other, where the grammar translation method was very rigid.

The team did identify some curricula as using this approach and, as mentioned already, language teaching theorists do recognise this approach even though they have some concerns about the progress made during language learning.  
 
There is also concern among sign language teachers that this approach may result in a high level of English interference into the BSL.  There are some people who feel that this method may be suitable for more advanced learners.  Once the students have acquired a sufficient level of fluency, they may then be able to use this method to switch between the two languages.  This does depend on the individual situation and the teacher would have to be careful in deciding how, where, when and at what level this method was used and would have to judge when they could make effective use of this approach.

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