ISF Surdos : English for the Deaf in Brazil
September 4, 2019
Learning a new language requires dedication In this class, knowledge is acquired through silence The professor starts by writing his lessons on the board while students use Brazilian Sign Language (LIBRAS) to understand This English class for the deaf started in July. and is comprised of students and teachers of the Leras-LIBRAS program at UFMT This initiative was started by the American Armen Kassabian, who works for English Without Borders. I work for English Without Borders here, which is in front of the Letras-LIBRAS program Where all of the deaf and hearing students meet-up everyday. I heard many of them asking me “I want to learn, I want to learn English too!” I thought, “It’s going to be a bit difficult to do this in the normal classes,” but without a doubt they can learn Everyone has the capacity to learn, they’d only need the organisation of the class to be little different. So we started like this Francileny came to Cuiaba one month ago. She passed the Federal exam to become a professor of the Letras-LIBRAS program at UFMT Now, she is also a student, learning a foreign language at the University What do you think of this initiative to offer English to deaf students? I think that this English for the deaf class is very important Because for us as being deaf, how are we going to learn English? We need to learn how to write. So that when we go to the United States, it can help us in our communication and interactions For example, if one has to do a Master’s level research assignment or on Facebook, its always important to know how to write and know words in English It’s important for the deaf to know! This English classes are taught by Armen, with the support of Nayara who has a bachelors in Letras- English, and is a Letras- LIBRAS student The class offers new opportunities to the deaf, and shows that everyone can learn. Just as a hearing person has challenges in learning a second language, for the deaf it’s the same thing. So I believe that as soon as we take English and translate it into LIBRAS, it’s easier for them to understand. Because the deaf are very visual, as soon as we infuse this visual element, it becomes a bit easier. But the challenge exists never the less, as it does for the hearing students as well. The methodology involves using writing and reading. After learning the meaning of words, the teacher and assistant teacher review the information in a dynamic way. Francileny’s friend is also deaf, and is a city councilman in the district of Catalão, Goias This English class called Pedro’s attention, that’s why he decide to participate in one class. Yesterday, Professor Francileny invited me and was telling me about all of her emotions and how excited she was to be in this English for the deaf class. The initiative is just the beginning. Armen intends to attract more students, develop the methodology and start new classes in the future. This is a way to democratize knowledge and students access to learning other languages. Everyone can learn. Often, we believe that our thoughts and our difficulties are going to stop us. But in fact, we end up stopping ourselves. There was one deaf student here who is 18, and he lived there for three years in the USA He’s able to communicate, he speaks and writes well He speaks somewhat since he is still deaf (but has a cochlear implant) But what I’m saying is he is able to communicate, and everyone can communicate. because the capacity to communicate is what makes us all human.