Tel Aviv University / Academic College of Tel Aviv (ISRAEL)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2016 Proceedings
Publication year: 2016
Pages: 6572-6581
ISBN: 978-84-617-5895-1
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2016.0501
Conference name: 9th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 14-16 November, 2016
Location: Seville, Spain
In Israel, students applying to an institute of higher education must take a Psychometric Entrance Test (PET) which is equivalent to the SAT exam in the US. The PET covers three areas: quantitative reasoning, verbal reasoning and the English language. The score ranges from 200-800.

The English score determines how many reading comprehension courses a student will have to take in order to fulfill all the requirements, ranging from a grade of 83 to 134 and above, which would exempt the applicant from taking any courses at all.

Research shows low levels of reading comprehension among deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) students in L2 (Mayberry, 2001; Marchark et. al, 2015; Nagle, 2015). Furthermore, Israeli Sign Language (ISL) is the first language for Israeli deaf students, Hebrew is the second and English is the third. Therefore, the acquisition of English by Israeli deaf children is based on a linguistic system that is not only trilingual, but also bi-modal since ISL is a visual-manual language (Rozenshtein, 2015).

Because of the great difficulties in acquiring English, Israeli DHH students usually get lower scores in the PET test and have to take more than one reading comprehension course in English. This is a great endeavor for them: they not only can't join regular classes because they can't read lips in English, but also the interpreters into Israeli Sign Language can't help them improve their English.

Therefore a project was launched by the Department of Languages at Tel Aviv University in order to allow DHH students overcome the physical as well as the linguistic barriers that hinder their success in English comprehension. The participants were two hard of hearing students and three deaf students who studied English in a one-to-one reading comprehension course at CLE (Center of Language Excellency).

Instead of an Oral or Total Communication Approach which are aimed at rehabilitating the DDH students (Gor Ziv, 2015), a Bilingual approach was adopted which perceives the Deaf as minority that deserves equal rights and acceptance of its culture and language. Sign language is viewed as the deaf students' first language which is not inferior and limited.

The objective of the project was to facilitate the learning of English to the deaf students by giving them explanations in Signed Hebrew (using signs from ISL but relying on Hebrew syntax) and by allowing hard of hearing students to read lips in Hebrew.

This paper will provide information about this unique project and will report the participants' insights concerning their studies in general and English in particular.

If we want better performance, we need higher expectations (Borgan , 2010).My contention is: "If we want better performance in English, we should make the learning of English accessible to DHH students"
Deaf and hard of hearing (DHH), Israeli Sign Language (ISL), trilingual, bi-modal.