ESOL Strategy response from Royal Association for Deaf people

Gregory Kingcott, Development Officer for the Royal Association for Deaf people, responded to the ESOL Strategy, saying, "As well as the feedback via the survey, I also wanted to share some thoughts in regard to the role ESOL plays within the Deaf community. We feel it is very important that not only are ESOL needs made available for foreign BSL users, but also British users of BSL. They will also need and require ESOL support, to help them communicate. They should be included when planning provision, e.g. for jobless people who lack basic skills. Many are common problems: lack of confidence or of basic skills (English, Maths, IT) as well as "soft skills". 


People who are deaf from birth or an early age and for whom BSL is their first language, often struggle with written English, their second language. (Average reading age for deaf school leavers is 8-9 years.) Their disability often means that educational levels are low. A recent report in the Guardian (http://bit.ly/1SSZv7V ) shows 58.9% of deaf students are failing to get five good GCSEs compared with 35.8% of hearing children. 


The Learning Skills and Improvement Service published an insightful paper. Under the title 'Deaf People and Literacy', I quote: "English as a Second Language: For many pre-lingual deaf people, those born deaf, English is their second language; British Sign Language being their first. However, unlike others who do not have English as their first language, pre-lingual deaf people are physically unable to learn English the way a German or French native speaker learns English. They cannot be immersed in the language around them for they cannot hear it. In addition, since British Sign Language is entirely visual, deaf people do not have a written or spoken language on which to base their second language learning". 


Research about deaf learners shows: 

·        Theye much more likely to be studying Level 1 qualifications than the general public 

·        75% of those studying at Level 1 in FE are aged 25 and over 

·        This is 8% higher than the general population 

·        Retention and progression rates are significantly worse for deaf learners (SFA 2010) 


To find out more, please email gregory.kingcott@royaldeaf.org.uk or view the website at www.royaldeaf.org.uk