An Online Learning Platform for English as a second language for young deaf Indian Sign Language users: usage patterns and user engagement

Denmark, A Clark (2012) An Online Learning Platform for English as a second language for young deaf Indian Sign Language users: usage patterns and user engagement. Masters thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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This study examines the learning of written English as a second language by young deaf Indian adults on an English Learning Platform. The overriding concern in deaf education has always, of necessity, been basic literacy (Carlson, 1996; Wilbur, 2000). In this study, deaf students in India have been taught by a classroom teacher and use an online learning environment for further instruction and reinforcement. The advent of computer-mediated learning in the last ten years has led to the central function and role of computers as learning aids and this type of learning has garnered a substantial amount of interest.

This research investigates the use of an English Learning Platform (ELP3) as a provision that facilitates and enhances learning for sign language users learning English as a second language (L2) through the signed and the written mediums (Pandian, 2006). Use of an ELP3 environment is complicated by the fact that sign languages rely on faceto-face communication (Johnson & Johnson, 1986), so it is necessary to ascertain whether the lack of face-to-face visual attention and cues in the ELP3 affects learning abilities. Studies of L2 classroom interaction suggest that co-operative and comprehensible interactions facilitate L2 learning (Kitade, 2000).

A statistical study of event log data drawn from the ELP3 and a questionnaire is used here to generate an understanding of how the online platform is used by a group of deaf learners and indicates that they generally like the ELP3 with some preference for certain features. Results of the study demonstrate that the frequency of access to the platform decreased through the duration of the research and the findings indicate a clear preference for signed explanations of topics. In addition, focus group interviews serve to determine deaf students‟ views of using the ELP3 and suggest that the group consider the ELP3 to be a favourable route to learning English alongside classroom tuition in a blended learning approach. The ELP3 offers potential benefits for L2 learning because it provides a broad range of interactions, involving different levels of proficiency, and these and other issues are considered at length in this thesis.

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