Level of difficulty of NGT-discourse for testing of receptive language skills of second language learners of NGT

Duration of the research: 2013-2014

Introduction

The Institute for Sign, Language & Deaf Studies of the HU University of applied sciences has implemented a new curriculum for Sign Language of the Netherlands (NGT) acquisition in 2010. This curriculum is based on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). Besides the curriculum, the testing methods had to be questioned as well. The NGT Functional Assessment (NFA) was introduced for the testing of expressive and interactive skills. Next to that, new tests had to be developed for the testing of receptive skills, and students should be enabled to decide themselves when they would take a test, with the restriction that they can participate in each test twice a year. In the development of these tests the question arose how to determine the difficulty level of SLN signed texts. Based on the CEFR: sign languages (ATERK, 2013), the bigger picture has been created. Still, further research was needed to set up a model for the determination of the difficulty level of the SLN-discourse.

Objective

The objective of this study is to set up the criteria that can be used to determine the difficulty level of SLN signed texts. Considered are language aspects, like the use of space, but also the use of diverse grammatical elements and morpheme-sign ratio. The signing speed and the covered lexicon is taken in consideration as well.

Results and implementation

First of all, a new SLN-discourse is developed and established. A transcription is being made and analysed. Various aspects will be discussed to examine to what degree these aspects influence the level of difficulty. A model is developed to be able to unequivocally determine the difficulty level of SLN materials in the future. This ensures that in addition to the official tests, also the teaching materials and the homework materials of the students can be revised according to the same procedures.

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