British Sign Language: a modern foreign language?

Date: 9 January, 2009
Location: Room 1.20, Engineering Building, Malet Place, University College London
Event type: Workshop

Location map (building is in C4 on map) | Programme

students in class

This workshop will draw upon our current FDTL project; BSL:QED (Quality Embedding of the Discipline) which aims to establish a new on-line curriculum for the teaching of British Sign Language (BSL) at HE level. There is currently no standardised curriculum for BSL in HE. Many universities teach BSL using a variety of curricula; several of which were obtained from night schools, community colleges and FE establishments. These have in turn been amended to suit individual HE programmes.

The research team at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), in partnership with UCL and the University of Lancaster, have analysed a number of sign language curricula from around the globe, looking at sign language programmes from universities overseas and a large number of presently available BSL curricula in the UK.

In addition we have looked intensively at the European Framework of Languages to ensure that the resultant curriculum will mirror modern foreign language curricula, raise academic standards and secure the future of BSL in HE.

During this workshop, participants will see a demonstration of the on-line curriculum, which includes syllabi, learning outcomes, linguistic notes, cultural notes, model assessments, teaching resources, sample teaching sessions and reading materials.

Questions to be raised include:

  • Is sign language a modern foreign language or a community language?
  • Can the teaching of sign language benefit from the European Framework for Languages or is it round pegs and square holes?
  • How can modern foreign language teaching inform the teaching of sign language?
  • What do we have in common with other community languages?
  • How can HEIs offer sign language alongside its modern foreign/ international language provision

The workshop will be interactive and based on practical application and discussion, which will inform participants, presenters and the field of language teaching.

This event is organised under the Subject Centre's Workshops to go scheme.

Workshop fee

There is no charge to attend for employees and postgraduate students of publicly funded UK educational institutions. The fee for employees and postgraduate students of private institutions/organisations and non-UK institutions is £40.

Lunch will be provided. We reserve the right to charge a £50.00 non-attendance fee.

For colleagues in Scotland

Academy Scotland travel fund for academic staff

This new initiative is aimed at encouraging the exchange and dissemination of good practices, at the discipline level, throughout the UK. It is specifically aimed at enabling academic staff in Scottish HEIs to engage with colleagues from other parts of the UK and to support their institution’s priorities and developments in learning and teaching. The funding may be used to help colleagues attend Higher Education Academy (including Subject Centres) conferences, network meetings and special interest groups that are being run outside of Scotland.

The maximum value of each bursary will be £300.

The deadline for round 1 is Friday 28 November and for round 2 is Friday 27 February. To apply go to the HE Academy Scotland page (

Programme for 09 January 2009
Time Session
10.00 - 10.30 Arrival and refreshments
10.30 - 10.45 Welcome & Introduction
10.45 - 11.45 BSL:QED – A demonstration of the website
11.45 - 12.30 Questions/comments
12.30 - 13.30 Lunch
13.30 - 14.30 Discussion groups (see indicative questions above)
14.30 - 14.45 Break
14.45 - 15.15 Feedback from groups
15.15 - 15.45 Assessing on-line resources for language teaching
15.45 - 16.15 Questions and Close