In response to the growing need for more Auslan support in the community, Deaf Can:Do offers an Auslan Tutoring Program (ATP) for children and their families who want to create and actively communicate in a bilingual environment.
The ATP program focuses on support in language development and its use in social settings. Offered both online (via Skype) and face-to-face the tutor interacts with the student, their family or school to provide support. The tutoring program explores further development and provides assistance with Auslan coursework, homework or exam preparation.
Meet & Greet
Name: CJ Westbrook
School: Stirling North Primary School
We first met CJ and mum, Jodi, through our Can:Do 4 Kids team. CJ was looking for support and guidance to establish a bilingual environment both at home and school. Before the program, CJ’s main challenge was to clearly communicate with her family, teachers and friends.
“CJ is able to communicate using sign before she has the verbal skills to address what she wants to communicate,” explained Jodi. “Even now she will tell you in sign if she can’t think of how to say it verbally.”
The Can:Do team developed an integrated approach by combining Auslan lessons with CJ’s speech and occupational therapies. “[They] were able to offer a lot of services under one roof,” said Jodi. “We have been learning Auslan now along with CJ’s school for 2 years and the benefits have been huge.”
Mandy Shalley is a Special Education Teacher at Stirling North Primary School. She oversees CJ’s Auslan interactions at school in collaboration with a team of teachers. “The program has had a positive influence on CJ’s
overall wellbeing. [The] improvement in her self-confidence, which has stemmed from her ability to communicate and be understood more easily, has had a profound impact on her willingness to participate in all aspects of school learning. We are so happy with the progress she is making.”
A considerable part of Auslan programme has been introduced to CJ’s whole class. “The pace at which all students can grasp the Auslan technique was surprising. We have gained insight into the Auslan language and its structure, the opportunity to learn a new language and teach it to others, and the ability to communicate more effectively with CJ and other hearing impaired people. We intend to continue to incorporate Auslan in the classroom [and] into our everyday lessons at any opportunity,” adds Mandy.
All of CJ’s classmates can now sign their own names, ‘good morning’ and ‘good afternoon’, and some can
sign more than the basics and appear to learn the skills very easily. CJ’s school also uses visual resources in
the classroom and basic signing cards have been produced and provided to the yard duty teachers so they are able to sign with CJ at recess and lunch if needed.
CJ’s ATP program comprises two 45 minute sessions each week. Her first session is spent 1:1 with our ATP tutor and the following session with her teachers at Stirling North Primary School for another 45 minutes. As the school is located in Port Augusta, the sessions are conducted online.
“We intend to continue to incorporate Auslan in the classroom [and] into our everyday lessons at any opportunity,”
Working with CJ, our tutor structures each session based on what it is needed, building on the previous lesson. CJ then learns new vocabulary and how to use them in a sentence. In addition, word games are created with additional linguistic features and includes topics like animals, food, daily conversation and related words. The focus is on both expressive and receptive Auslan so CJ can learn how to read and sign in Auslan for a two-way conversation. Jodi and CJ could not be happier with the results: “This support has given us tools to communicate in ways we never expected and helped us to become part of the Deaf community. I now have some great Deaf friends and enjoy meeting new ones along the way.”
CJ’s next goal is to become more fluent and a hold a full conversation using Auslan.