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BSL group give thumbs up to Prague visit

A group of British Sign Language (BSL) and Deaf Studies students from the School of Education and Social Science at UCLan have just returned from a trip to Charles University in Prague, the Czech Republic.

The three lecturers and 22 students visited the Czech capital in March, on a trip partly sponsored by the International Student Travel Bursary Fund at UCLan.

Dr Junhui Yang, Lecturer in BSL & Deaf Studies, said: “Prague was a beautiful and interesting city to visit. We participated in three Czech sign language classes on the Thursday and then on the Friday morning we attended an open panel discussion session, where we discussed the differences between Deaf Studies at UCLan and at Charles University (CU).

“The Czech panel (of one lecturer and two students) began the discussions in Czech Sign Language (CzSL), which were interpreted first into spoken Czech, then into spoken English, and then into BSL; the British panel (also of one lecturer and two students) then responded and the interpretation order was reversed. This involved seven interpreters for a six-panel group: two for CzSL/Czech, two for BSL/English and three for English/Czech! On the Friday afternoon, student representatives from UCLan and CU showed their research projects and course work, and entertained us with signed poetry and performances.

“On the Saturday morning, we also attended a four-hour ‘drama in deaf education’ workshop, taught by deaf actors from Prague. The British and Czech students mixed well during the workshop and it ended with a group photograph, taken by Suzanne Maguire.

“This was a very successful student trip and the students are very enthusiastic to return to Prague again. This has increased their confidence in using sign language in a transnational context.”

One of the students, Angela Dawe, commented: “Going to Prague was a great experience. I learn so much about deaf culture and Czech sign language, which will help me with my course.”

Fellow student Emily Miller added: “I enjoyed the ‘acting’ activities, which allowed a more relaxing signing atmosphere. Overall, a fantastic trip.”