|These 2nd graders all introduced themselves to me in CSL.|
This state run school has approximately 200 students from kindergarten through 12th grade. The government provides free education to all Chinese students through grade 9. After that, if the students test into high school, they pay tuition. The students who complete high school have the option to take the college entrance exam. We learned there is a special exam for Deaf applicants. The Xi’an Academy of Fine Arts & Special Education College of Arts has many Deaf and Hard of Hearing students.
After passing through the security checkpoint, the principal greeted us and introduced us to one of the main teachers. This teacher, the principal explained, has won awards for her teaching ability. The teacher, with Xiaolan as our interpreter, gave us a quick tour of the campus. The main courtyard is well maintained and the wisteria vines drooping from the trellis in the garden smelled very sweet. There is a basketball court, soccer field and a track area.
|Ben, Kelly, Principal, Star Teacher|
|In the preschool, little footsteps are a visual cue for the proper direction to walk up and down the stairs.|
First we entered the preschool building where children as young as 3 were sitting in classrooms. These children have all received cochlear implants and were receiving speech and hearing therapy. There were less than 10 students per room. The teachers were using cassette tapes as well as children’s movies. Some of the students greeted us with speech. Although the teachers at this level do not use sign language, I noticed one little boy describing what he saw in the movie with what we call classifiers in ASL.
Then, we went to other buildings where all the students were communicating in Chinese Sign Language (CSL). It was wonderful to see their interaction with one another. We were informed that today the students were taking mid-term exams, so we only saw the students during the brief breaks between their classes. Ben and I went into a 2nd grade classroom and introduced ourselves. The students enthusiastically greeted us and showed us their names. All of them know the sign for “Americans”. J CSL and ASL have similar signs for “Teacher”.
There is only one Deaf teacher on the staff at this school. The teacher giving us the tour was quite impressed to hear that I had many Deaf and Hard of Hearing teachers in college. They asked several questions about Deaf and Hard of Hearing Education in America.
It is typical to bring gifts to school administrators here in China. We presented them with an American Sign Language dictionary. Additionally, I had prepared lists of websites that included OIC Movies, D-PAN, Kentucky School for the Deaf, EKU, NTID and Gallaudet. All of these sites are accessible through the local internet access. I hope we can continue to have email communication with the teachers at this school.
The tour was very short and I would love to have spent more time with the students at the school. However, it was explained to us that it is very rare for foreigners to be able to visit these schools (apart from special groups arranged by the government) and we feel privileged to have been allowed past the front entrance.