Sign language is a unique and expressive form of communication, serving as a primary mode of interaction for the deaf and hard-of-hearing communities. As educators strive to make language learning more accessible and engaging, the integration of technology has become essential. One innovative tool in this realm is a digital language lab, traditionally associated with spoken languages but increasingly valuable for sign language instruction.
The SmartClass Language Lab
The SmartClass digital language lab is suited for all forms of language teaching, as it facilitates
- real-time and hands-on interactivity.
- high-quality audio, camera video, and screen-sharing communication among teachers and students.
- the possibility for teachers to create their own activities, regardless of the language/subject they teach.
- collaboration amongst students.
- simple and centralized management of lesson materials and student responses.
- practice from anywhere, at any time, from any device.
SmartClass for sign language
Sign language labs offer a dynamic and interactive learning experience for students. Through digital content, interactive exercises, and real-life simulations, learners can actively engage with sign language in a controlled and supportive environment. This approach facilitates a deeper understanding of the language's nuances and cultural context.
Unlike other systems that treat sign language support as an expensive optional add-on, SmartClass includes sign language support as an integral part of the standard platform. Sign language instructors can run live activities – such as student pairing with webcam support - in the classroom. Instructors are also able to build and assign self-study activities that include a visual stimulus and require a webcam-based video recording response. These activities are perfect for students learning to sign and for advanced interpretation practice.
SmartClass enables teachers to create both self-study and live classroom activities for their students. Students and teachers can work in the classroom, in a self-study room, and from home. SmartClass also uniquely provides multi-platform support for all activities, regardless of the device and operating system.
Every student learns at a different pace, and language labs cater to individual learning styles. With self-paced modules, learners can progress through the material at their own speed, ensuring a more personalized and effective educational experience. This flexibility accommodates diverse learning needs and allows students to revisit challenging concepts until they feel confident.
In an increasingly digital world, the ability to facilitate remote learning is crucial. Language labs equipped with online platforms allow educators to reach a broader audience, including students in remote or underserved areas. This accessibility promotes inclusivity and ensures that individuals with diverse learning needs can access quality sign language education.
Live classroom activities
Sign language relies heavily on visual cues, making the language lab an ideal environment for visual reinforcement. The combination of video demonstrations, 3D animations, and interactive exercises allows students to observe and imitate signs accurately. Visual aids help reinforce vocabulary, grammar, and proper signing techniques, promoting a more comprehensive learning experience.
The SmartClass Language Lab gives teachers the option of sharing audio or sharing both audio and webcam video. Cameras can be used for:
- Student pairing – with recording
- Teacher presentations
- Student presentations
- Student monitoring
- Student-teacher one-on-one dialogs
Student pairing – with recording
When student pairing is enabled, each student views his or her local webcam video and the webcam feeds from his or her partner(s) as shown above. Instructors can monitor student communication and/or participate in the discussion.
Pairing activities can be recorded under the instructor's control, and the recordings can then be reviewed by the teacher and the students.
Presentations and monitoring
When the webcam option is enabled for teacher presentations, students view the camera image. When a student is monitored, the instructor views the student’s webcam in a movable on-screen window.
SmartClass offers integrated curricula for several languages. However, sign language teachers can easily create their own activities to assign to students in class or at home.
The most commonly used activity templates for sign language are:
- Open Video Recording
- Continuous Video Recording
- Open Text
- Question & Answer
- Multiple Choice
- Matching Activities
- Jumbling Activities
Teachers can also author their own video clips right within the platform and can then immediately use those to create more activities.
The integration of language labs into sign language education marks a significant step toward creating a more inclusive and effective learning environment. By harnessing the power of technology, educators can offer interactive, visual, and culturally rich experiences that empower students to communicate in sign language confidently. As we continue to embrace innovative tools, the SmartClass Language Lab stands out as a valuable asset in the pursuit of making sign language education accessible to all.