Facilitating Exposure to Sign Languages of the World: The Case for Mobile Assisted Language Learning
Foreign sign language instruction is an important, but overlooked area of study. Thus the purpose of this paper was two-fold. First, the researcher sought to determine the level of knowledge and interest in foreign sign language among Deaf teenagers along with their learning preferences. Results from a survey indicated that over a third of the respondents did not realize that American Sign Language was not universally used around the world. Another key finding from the survey is that Deaf students are interested in learning foreign sign languages particularly from the perspective of a potential world traveler and not necessarily from the perspective of someone who wants to formally study the language for college credit. These students further indicated that they would prefer to study a foreign sign language through multimedia formats, including mobile learning, as opposed to a traditional face-to-face class. Thus the second purpose of the study was to design a prototype mobile app to provide foreign sign language learning opportunities for use individually or as part of a high school enrichment program. An emerging technology tool, AppShed, was used to develop the prototype, which is cross-platform. The prototype was designed to feature 25 words and phrases related to travel in four different sign languages. Video clips from native signers were identified for inclusion. In keeping with best practices for mobile language learning, an interactive component was also included in the prototype whereby users could produce their own videos for expressive practice. Further research needs to be conducted on the app’s features and potential integration into formal classroom settings.
Journal of Information Technology Education: Innovations in Practice, Vol. 13, 13-24.