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Overview

Scheme Background
Scheme Partners
Scheme Implementation
Feedback from Scheme Partners
Nursery
Feedback from Parents - Nursery
Kindergarten
Feedback from Parents – Kindergarten
Other Support Measures for Hearing-Impaired Students and their Parents
Scheme History and Awards
Related Videos
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GEG Sign Bilingualism Co-enrolment Pilot Scheme

Scheme Background

Under the current education system in Macau, hearing-impaired students will generally be encouraged to attend mainstream schools in “inclusive” classrooms.  While the Macau Government provides additional financial resources for schools to support them, hearing-impaired students, depending on the severity of their deafness and in spite of having cochlear implants, may still face difficulty adjusting to class learning and to engage socially.  The Galaxy Entertainment Group Foundation hopes to introduce a more dynamic, systematic and effective sign bilingualism and co-enrolment education model for these inclusive classrooms at mainstream schools for hearing-impaired students.

Scheme Partners

The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Centre for Sign Language and Deaf Studies
Colégio Diocesano de São José (5ª) 
Infantário de Nossa Senhora do Carmo

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Scheme Implementation

In January 2018, the Foundation launched the “GEG Sign Bilingualism Co-enrolment Pilot Scheme” and commissioned the Centre for Sign Linguistics and Deaf Studies of the Chinese University of Hong Kong to help establish a Pilot Scheme in Macau. The Pilot Scheme starts at the nursery level to cater for the needs of hearing-impaired children, providing them with an early introduction to “bilingual” – sign and spoken – language input to enhance their early childhood education process, and progressing onto kindergarten. The implementation of  “bilingual” language teaching in inclusive classrooms is defined as the hearing class teacher pairing up to co-teach in class with a teaching assistant, who is a deaf adult fluent in sign language and trained as a teaching assistant.

The Pilot Scheme was launched in the 2018-19 academic year, when ten hearing-impaired children were enrolled in the Pilot Scheme, 5 each at the kindergarten at Colégio Diocesano de São José 5, and the nursery "Infantario de Nossa Senhora do Carmo”. In its second academic year (2019/20), fourteen hearing-impaired children are enrolled in the Pilot Scheme, ten in the kindergarten (five children each in K1 and K2) and four in the nursery. In the kindergarten, one teacher and a deaf teaching assistant co-teach using both spoken and sign languages in the inclusive classrooms, and the deaf children attend class together with other hearing children. The same is done in the nursery with the support of a deaf teaching assistant, but in a less formal classroom setting. The Project Team from the Chinese University of Hong Kong closely monitors the Pilot Scheme’s progress and provides ongoing training and advice to teachers and school administrators.

The Pilot Scheme expects to help build a solid language foundation for hearing-impaired students through the simultaneous use of sign and spoken languages, enhancing their overall literacy and language abilities. Hearing children attending the classes are also expected to benefit from the practice, as their language development will be enhanced through exposure to sign language, while developing increased empathy for the less fortunate.

Teacher Training and School Support

Prior to implementation of the Pilot Scheme, all teachers from the participating kindergarten and nursery attended sign language training conducted by staff members from the Centre for Sign Linguistics and Deaf Studies of the Chinese University of Hong Kong.  In addition to learning sign language to enable teachers to communicate with hearing-impaired children, the training helps to enhance teachers’ knowledge regarding sign bilingual education and teaching strategies for hearing-impaired children and children of deaf adults.

Teacher Support in a Co-Teaching Environment

In order to support deaf and hearing teachers to use sign and spoken language to co-teach, the Project Team at the Chinese University of Hong Kong visits the school and the nursery periodically to conduct class observation and after-class evaluation. The Project Team will also share practical teaching skills with the hearing teachers and the deaf teaching assistants to help them systematically establish the mode of bilingual co-teaching unique to the Scheme, assist in the development of sign language resources and provide professional advice on visual education materials. These visits from the Project Team allow the schools to continually improve their teaching skills and create a more conducive learning atmosphere in the bilingual classroom.

Promoting Whole School Participation & Developing Inclusive Education

Many studies have shown that sign language is beneficial and can be used to help students with special educational needs (“SEN”), in addition to those who are hearing-impaired. Apart from helping deaf and hearing-impaired students, the Scheme also provides advice on general teaching for SEN students, particularly those who are following individual education plans set up specifically for their learning. This is because sign and spoken bilingual input strategies can simultaneously enhance learning even in hearing students, and particularly those with special needs. The Project Team will periodically conduct reviews with the school and provide professional advice on the development of the sign bilingual co-teaching, and how to overcome any issues encountered in implementing the Pilot Scheme.

Feedback from Scheme Partners

“Research has shown that if we provide deaf people with a good foundation in sign language, their oral language learning will not be affected. More importantly, if there is a deaf teaching assistant teaching alongside the hearing teacher while she is speaking in class, hearing-impaired students, regardless of whether they have hearing aids or cochlear implants, are able to use the sign language channel to grasp the information that they may otherwise miss out on. From the linguistic point of view, hearing-impaired children can develop both oral and sign language at the same time, which is actually an advantage.”
Gladys Tang (Professor, Chinese University of Hong Kong)
“I would like to share my own experience with frontline teachers in Macau and support them to enable a smooth implementation. The hearing-impaired students possess a high degree of self-care skills already; they can easily adapt, likely because they are still young, so as soon as they enter kindergarten, being exposed to two languages (sign and spoken) allows them to easily and naturally adapt to this mode of learning. There is no need to make any obvious changes to create an inclusive atmosphere, these children can already naturally communicate with others and amongst themselves.”
Chan Fung Mei (Researcher, Chinese University of Hong Kong)
“Through the Scheme, we hope to put into practice a better practise model and then slowly introduce it to others in the education sector. Although not all schools can provide a fully bilingual environment or have as many hearing-impaired students, just by having an understanding of their needs can already be of great help. We also need to assist the wider community to understand the needs of those with hearing impairment so they can learn to appreciate and accept them, and create an inclusive culture in society.”
Chris Yiu (Senior Officer, Chinese University of Hong Kong)
“Without training, our hearing teachers will find it difficult to work with deaf teaching assistants in the classroom. The training on sign language, teaching methods and principles in a bilingual classroom is extremely important in helping us implement the Scheme.”
Wu Kam Un (Principal, Colégio Diocesano de São José 5)
“Albeit the deaf population in Macau is not a big one, the point is that there is still a population of hearing-imparied children in our community. These children need to enter mainstream school and be streamed into inclusive classrooms. Our teachers agree that the Sign Bilingualism Co-enrolment Scheme is beneficial and meaningful. It may be difficult for us at this stage of implementation, but we are all learning as we implement the Scheme, and we will continue to work on it and improve.”
Pao Sio Kun (Vice Principal, Colégio Diocesano de São José 5)
“My parents had wanted me to study at a normal school when I was young, but that school did not use sign language. Ten years later, there is now sign and oral bilingual teaching, which I think is great, and I fully support this Scheme! I hope the hearing-impaired children who learn sign language through this programme can learn how to get along with hearing children and can become a teacher, like me.”
Chong Un Mun (Deaf Teaching Assistant, Colégio Diocesano de São Jose 5)
“We need to manage how students are seated in the classroom and where toys and teaching materials should be displayed. We need to put more thought into the visual set-up of the classroom, such as adding more colours to the floor and using more visual props when teaching to help those children who are hearing impaired.”
Lam Sou Han (Kindergarten Teacher, Colégio Diocesano de São Jose 5)
“The hearing teacher and I will discuss the lesson contents and what we intend to teach, and I will teach her the vocabularies in sign language. We start the lesson using oral language and I am responsible for the sign language component. When there is a long “pause” in using sign language, I will tap the class teacher on the shoulder to remind her that we need to look at each other so that I can provide the sign language input, and she may need to slow down her speech so we can ensure the children can follow. Developing oral and sign language simultaneously at an early age is ideal for hearing-impaired students as it is good for their brain development.”
Iao Wai Mun (Deaf Teaching Assistant, Colégio Diocesano de São Jose 5)
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Nursery

In a “bilingual” environment at the nursery, the class teacher, with her deaf teaching assistant, regularly organise bilingual storytime activities for the various classes.  Storytime is co-presented by the teacher and the deaf teaching assistant using spoken and sign language simultaneously.  Movements and props are crucial in facilitating imitation of the actions required in sign language for the key vocabularies used.

The deaf teaching assistant will also provide one-on-one training sessions to hearing-impaired students twice a week.  The deaf teaching assistant will make use of different activities, games, and educational tools to enhance the students’ abilities in different areas such as cognition, language, emotion, etc.  Individual training helps the hearing-impaired children to build up their vocabulary and understanding of sign language, in preparation for their transition to kindergarten. 

The nursery also collaborates with the Chinese University of Hong Kong to provide parents with workshops on bilingual story-telling, run by the teacher and the deaf teaching assistant, to enable them to experience and better understand the bilingual teaching mode that is used in class. Parents are invited to join their children to attend and enjoy these story-telling workshops together.

To promote the Pilot Scheme to parents of hearing-impaired children, the Social Welfare Bureau has set up a referral system for the sign bilingual programme at the nursery.  Parents with hearing-impaired children aged 1-3, or who are themselves hearing-impaired may apply for their child to be enrolled at the nursery through social welfare centres, child and youth service centres, agencies for hearing-impaired persons or those providing early intervention subsidised by the Social Welfare Bureau.  More information can be found at: https://www.childcare.ias.gov.mo/referral-2?token=2XsvIQqc74ikw5lsyRwzrg==&lgType=en

Feedback from Parents - Nursery

Even though the Pilot Scheme is still at its early stages of implementation, parents with children who are attending the nursery offering sign bilingualism are already seeing the positive benefits on different areas of their children’s development, such as communication and learning motivation.

From parents of hearing-impaired children:
“I chose Carmo Creche in the first place because they have implemented the sign-bilingualism scheme with the Chinese University’s Centre for Sign Linguistics and Deaf Studies. I know that pairing oral language with sign language can enhance right-brain development; that is why we chose this creche. There were 5 hearing-impaired children in the class and the others were all hearing children. It showed my son that he was not the only hearing-impaired child in this world, and these children are in the same classroom with other hearing children as well. Even though he has to wear a hearing aid, he is able to play, learn and live like his other classmates. I think that this type of group setting will enable him to better adapt to our society and to become more independent.”
“This programme has definitely helped as there is improvement in my son’s sign and oral languages. He is actually willing to use oral language now and both his receptive and expressive language have improved. Sign language provides him with another channel for communication; he had previously attended individual sign language classes, but being in the bilingual oral and sign class environment has actually improved his signing abilities. In class, he is able to learn with other hearing children and the atmosphere is very good because it is an inclusive environment. The children and the teachers are very accepting; it is a good environment because there are other hearing-impaired children around him. I am very happy that we joined this programme as it has helped a lot.”
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From parents of hearing children
“My child likes sign language very much. She has been exposed to it for only about a year, but she will tell us what she has learned when she comes home. She will use sign language to say ‘good morning’, tell us she wants to ‘eat an apple’, and use sign language to describe the chirping sounds made by birds on the street. All these help to strengthen the development of her thinking skills as sign language is being paired and integrated with spoken language.”
“When she is upset and refuses to speak, she will use sign language to express herself, or when she is eating dragonfruit and finds it interesting, she will remember she learned this word and sign ‘Dragonfruit’. I will also ask her to teach me how to sign the words. She loves the process of learning sign language! Bilingual sign and spoken education can train their attention. For example, they don’t know what being impolite means and won’t look at you when they talk. Through bilingual sign and oral education, children learn that they need to look at the teacher when signing and have to look at others in order to understand what the other person is trying to communicate, which helps to train their attention.”
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Kindergarten

The practice of co-teaching – where classes are prepared and taught by a hearing teacher and a deaf teaching assistant at the same time – is the main theme behind the bilingual inclusive classroom.  Three members of staff , two hearing teachers with one deaf teaching assistant, are in charge of the inclusive class at the kindergarten.

Preparation for lessons requires more time, but is crucial to ensuring that both the hearing teacher and the deaf teaching assistant are not only familiar with the teaching content, but can work together to effectively deliver the lesson content through spoken and sign languages.  Through this mode of teaching, hearing-impaired children, with the rest of the hearing students in the class, receive both spoken and sign language input allowing them to learn, interact and communicate effectively.

The Sign-Bilingualism Co-enrollment Scheme has an established system for the classroom to accommodate the needs of hearing-impaired students, through the provision of sign language input and visual learning materials.  For the entire school, the promotion of an inclusive environment to include hearing-impaired children will also require school administrators to evolve and adapt to include allowances such as special examination arrangements, sound equipment for the hearing-impaired, and encouraging teachers who may not be teaching in these inclusive classrooms to learn sign language so as to communicate with the hearing-impaired children in school.  Special resources for the hearing-impaired students enrolled in Scheme are also made available by the Chinese University of Hong Kong through a dedicated website.

In order to advocate and promote inclusiveness in the kindergarten, bilingual sign and spoken elements are also included in school activities.  At morning assembly, a hearing-impaired student from the inclusive class will lead the kindergarten in signing the song lyrics, and at extra-curricular and other school-wide activities, the school will ensure that sign interpretation is available to meet the needs of hearing-impaired students.  The deaf teaching assistants are also available to help hearing-impaired students who choose to attend after-school “homework club” with revision and homework during which sign language support is provided.

Feedback from Parents – Kindergarten

From Parents of Hearing-Impaired Children:
“Sign Bilingual Co-enrollment can make up for what my child misses or cannot hear when the teacher is speaking, as he is able to see the teaching assistant signing. Other hearing children are also able to learn sign language and learn to not discriminate from a young age. There should not be an issue of discrimination, as everyone is equal.”
“In other schools, the teachers may not be equipped with the skills to teach hearing-impaired children. However, in this school, it is different as the teachers have been taught the needs of hearing-impaired students, and what they need to pay attention to. I am very comfortable with my child being enrolled in this school.”
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From Parents of Hearing Children:
“Her learning motivation is much higher now. As she is learning sign language, she will teach us sign language when she gets home from school, and therefore feels very proud of herself. She will teach us how to sign ‘good morning’, the names of her classmates and other simple phrases. Apart from academic knowledge, sign langauge requires her to use her brain more and we believe it is very good for her brain development.”
“I am very happy that my child is able to participate in the first year of this sign bilingual class. This programme can help young children develop skills such as thinking, patience and how to interact with others. Through the programme, deaf and hearing students can make friends easily and increase their self-confidence, which will greatly help with their future development. I hope that in future there will be more of these inclusive classrooms so that more people can benefit and that we can build a more inclusive environment in schools and our society. After joining this programme, my child is able to integrate into the lives of deaf people and it will make him more compassionate and caring.”
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Sign Language that Changed his Life

Long was diagnosed at birth with hearing impairment, his family was left feeling despaired and helpless.  Learning sign language and joining the GEG Sign Bilingualism Co-Enrolment Scheme at Carmo Nursery was a turning point for Long, sign language opening up a channel of communication for Long to understand the world around him, helping him to cope well with daily routines and academic work.  Just this September, Long started kindergarten at St Joseph in the Bilingualism Scheme's inclusive classroom, continuing his new journey in life...  Read the feedback letter from Long's mother about their experience with the Bilingualism Scheme:

14 October, 2020 | PDF

A Mother's Feedback: Sign Language that Changed his Life

Other Support Measures for Hearing-Impaired Students and their Parents

Language Assessments for Hearing-Impaired Students

The Project Team from the Chinese University of Hong Kong will also regularly conduct language assessments for hearing-impaired students to chart their language development, allowing teachers to understand their language level so that adjustments in teaching can be made as needed and training can be better tailored to suit their needs.

The Pilot Scheme has been well received by both the school and parents.  Since the Pilot Scheme’s implementation, the school has made it a point to introduce the concept and principles of sign bilingualism to new parents and collect information on their willingness to enroll their children in the inclusive class.  For both years, over 80% of about 150 new parents (from each cohort) had expressed their willingness to enroll their children in the inclusive class, reflecting their acceptance and support for the concept of the sign bilingualism programme.  

Professional Advisory and Consultation Services to Parents of Hearing-Impaired Children

The Project Team regularly meets with the parents of hearing-impaired children to provide counselling, and to provide consultation on appropriate measures regarding their development.  The Project Team will also regularly meet with the parents of these children to discuss their child’s progress.  To enhance parents’ understanding towards sign bilingual education, and to enable them to better understand sign bilingual teaching, the Project Team will also hold different workshops for parents on topics such as hearing and speech training, and bilingual sign storytelling.

Scheme History and Awards

Based on research evidence and the needs of deaf education, the Centre for Sign Linguistics and Deaf Studies of the Chinese University of Hong Kong introduced, in 2006, an innovative sign bilingual education model which incorporates and strengthens the idea of inclusive education in mainstream schools.  Real inclusiveness in education is achieved by enabling deaf and hearing children to develop collaborative learning using both signed and spoken languages through co-teaching by deaf and hearing teachers.  The bilingual learning environment where deaf and hearing teachers and students integrate can also enhance their bilingual development and learning effectiveness.

As of 2019, 6 nurseries, 3 kindergarten, 3 primary schools, and 1 secondary school are using the Sign Language Co-enrollment model Asia-wide. The programme is now operating in Hong Kong (2006), Singapore (2017), Macau (2018), and the province of Quzhou (2018) in China.  A total of 160 deaf children are enrolled in the programme during 2019-2020 academic year.

In 2020, the Sign Bilingualism Co-enrollment Scheme received the Innovative Practice Award on Education awarded by the Essl Foundation’s Zero Project, which focuses on the rights of persons with disabilities globally.

(https://zeroproject.org/practice/pra201501chn-factsheet/)

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Related Videos

GEG Sign Bilingualism Co-enrolment Pilot Scheme (2021- 1of2)

The Galaxy Entertainment Group Foundation launched the “GEG Sign Bilingualism Co-enrolment Pilot Scheme” in 2018.  Under the Scheme, one teacher and a deaf teaching assistant co-teach using both spoken and sign languages in the inclusive classroom, with hearing-impaired children attending class together with other hearing children.  The first cohort of both hearing and hearing-impaired students from the sign-bilingualism class in Colégio Diocesano de São José (5ª) had graduated from kindergarten in July 2021., b The Scheme has been well recognized by parents and teacher; not only are hearing-impaired students benefiting from the scheme with the use of signed and spoken language in class, parents of hearing children in particular found their children developing a greater empathy for others as a result.  Colégio Diocesano de São José (5ª) actively provides teachers with professional development training, including sign language training, optimizing teaching strategies, and strengthening visual aids etc., in order to meet the learning needs of students in the inclusive classroom.

GEG Sign Bilingualism Co-enrolment Pilot Scheme (2021- 2of2)

Not only are hearing-impaired students direct beneficiaries of the GEG Sign Bilingualism Co-enrolment Pilot Scheme, so are teaching assistants in the inclusive classrooms.  These teaching assistants are deaf adults fluent in sign language; not only are they able to enhance the learning process of hearing-impaired students, they are instrumental in optimizing the “bilingual” education process through working closely with the class teacher.  As importantly, these inclusive classrooms represent a new employment opportunity for the deaf community as they pursue advanced studies in sign language teaching and kindergarten education, with the hope they may eventually qualify as teachers in schools offering sign bilingualism education.

GEG Sign Bilingualism Co-enrolment Pilot Scheme - Part 1 

In 2018, the Galaxy Entertainment Group Foundation launched the “GEG Sign Bilingualism Co-enrolment Pilot Scheme” in one kindergarten and one nursery in Macau. Under the Scheme, one teacher and a deaf teaching assistant co-teach using both spoken and sign languages in the inclusive classroom, with hearing-impaired children attending class together with other hearing children. The Scheme expects to help build a solid language foundation for hearing-impaired students through the simultaneous use of sign and spoken languages, enhancing their overall literacy and language abilities. Hearing children attending the classes are also expected to benefit from the practice, as their language development will be enhanced through exposure to sign language. In addition, the Scheme believes that this learning environment can also cultivate the students’ empathy for the less fortunate. 

GEG Sign Bilingualism Co-enrolment Pilot Scheme - Part 2 

In order to support teachers and their deaf teaching assistant to co-teach in the “GEG Sign Bilingualism Co-enrolment Pilot Scheme”, the Chinese University of Hong Kong offers sign language training to these teachers, and visits the school regularly to closely monitor the project’s progress and provide ongoing training and advice to teachers and school administrators. With the participation of the Catholic Diocese of Macau, the Education and Youth Affairs Bureau, the Social Welfare Bureau and the Labour Department in the pilot, the Scheme hopes that its positive result will eventually be fully recognised and supported by the government, enabling the Scheme to continue its implementation as these students progress through their academic careers.

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