The cultural competence challenge: Enhancing deaf and hard-of- hearing English learners’ general knowledge


This publication doesn't include Faculty of Arts. It includes Support Centre for Students with Special Needs. Official publication website can be found on


Year of publication 2016
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Support Centre for Students with Special Needs

Description As instructors of English for students with hearing impairments, we have identified a pressing need to address, alongside language skills, also the cultural competence of our students. We have repeatedly observed that our students lack cultural knowledge and hence often experience comprehension difficulties when reading texts that refer to specific cultural phenomena, even such that are generally well-known among intact learners. For this reason, we have designed a course in American and Deaf American Culture which is going to focus on raising cultural awareness of deaf and hard-of-hearing English learners. This paper aims to present our project and reflect on the possible benefits of such a course. As part of the project, students will explore the US (and US deaf) culture through a series of interactive activities and workshop sessions comprising reading short stories (including US Deaf literature), film/documentary screening sessions (with English subtitles) and post-screening discussions, individual project work, a cooking session, interactive language exercises (using e.g. cartoons, adverts). The topics will include US culture, US Deaf culture, food culture, entertainment, family, ethnic and cultural diversity, consumerism, major feasts, and others. Apart from the cultural competence, the course will enhance the participants’ skills in the English language. Furthermore, thanks to the project activities we hope to extend the learning outside the classroom and show students possibilities for developing their own ways of acquiring a foreign language.

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