The interview questions were answered by a group of Professionals from IGT&D (Instituut voor Gebaren, Taal & Dovenstudies), Hogeschool Utrecht, University of Applied Sciences.

5.0/5 rating 1 vote

What, in your opinion, are the strengths / weaknesses of the current system in the Netherlands? That is: the current system of teaching sign language, + the training of sign language teachers?

Strengths: in the Netherlands, we have a Bachelor Program Sign Language Teacher as well as a Master Program.


  • Not all students have strong connections with the Deaf community
  • Some schools for the deaf do not regard sign language as the first language choice since the CI has been introduced.
  • It is not possible (by law) to select students who enrol in the Bachelor program for Sign Language teachers and interpreters; the Netherlands has an open access registration system for all students. This sometimes leads to students with less ‘aptitude’ for signing or teaching to enrol.

Can you give us examples of ‘best practice’, in your country?

Some organisations (Kentalis, Auris, Hogeschool Utrecht [Utrecht University of Applied Sciences, HU]) work together to offer a sign language program to professionals who work in Health Care. All organisations recognise the CEFR as a tool to award sign language levels to sign language learners.

At Universities (e.g. Radboud University and Utrecht University of Applied Sciences) there is research on sign language pedagogy. 

Can you tell us about the accreditation of sign language teachers in the Netherlands? 

Is there a (formal, informal) system? How does it work? Does it work well? Does it include different qualifications for teachers of different target groups, e.g. teaching parents, teaching university students, etc.? Is the system as accessible for Deaf teachers, as for hearing teachers?

There is a Bachelor as well as a Master program with an accredited degree (B.Ed and M.Ed), but the title is not protected and in fact, everyone can call himself a sign language teacher. In addition to the bachelor and master program, short NGT programs are offered a./o. by the Dutch Sign Centre. The latter serves the group of sign language teachers who cannot, or do not want to, follow the bachelor program. Teachers certified by one of these programs can teach all groups (e.g. parents, university students, etc.), but some Institutes (for example HU, where  students are taught on a tertiary level) demand a teacher to have a master degree (e.g. bachelor or master program)

HU teaches deaf as well as hearing students as NGT teachers. Hearing students must demonstrate a minimum of level B2 to receive their diploma. The Dutch Sign Centre only trains deaf teachers. 

Can you tell us something about curriculum development in the Netherlands? Are curricula based on CEFR?

Yes, all organisations (HU, Dutch Sign Centre, Kentalis) work with the CEFR. There has been a collaboration between different organisations in a research group in 2010-2013. After that, the different organisations developed their own programs. In general, HU teaches at all CEFR levels, other organisations at A1 and A2 levels only. Assessment of CEFR levels in learners can be done at HU, with an official adaptation of the ASLPI (granted by RIT, Rochester USA)  called NGT-FA (NFA for short).

What, in your opinion, is the way forward, for sign language teaching & the training of sign language teachers in your country, and/or in Europe?

Proper training and research into sign language pedagogy. Currently, there is an ECML project, PRO-Sign 2, which endeavours to formulate competencies and standards for SL teachers, in order to improve sign language teachings in the EU at all levels (i.e. diploma courses/university degrees).

Do you have any recommendations that you want to share with us?

At this point in time, it is of the utmost importance to join hands in Europe to raise the standard of sign language teaching. Only through collaboration can we strive to educate excellent SL teachers. These teachers, in turn, can play a decisive role in sign language teaching to both children and adults. The Deaf communities in the EU should be educated about their own language, and about their language rights. Projects like SIGNTEACH and PRO-Sign play an important role in disseminating knowledge about the field of Deaf Studies and SL pedagogy.

Date of the interview: 23 June 2017