The central purpose of this autoethnographic study is to provide an account of my experiences as a deaf teacher teaching Irish Sign Language (ISL) to hearing students in a higher education institution. My cultural and linguistic background and personal history guided the way I interacted with students who found themselves confronted by a unique culture quite separate from what they had known before. By engaging in autoethnographic journal writing recorded over a period of three months, I reveal the complex social and historical relations manifested in the contact between deaf and hearing cultures in the classroom. More specifically, I consider how language conflict and different communication modes might affect teaching and learning in concrete situations. In particular, I advocate an understanding of Pratt’s (1991) “contact zone” theory to see deaf-hearing contacts not just as challenges but possibilities for new ways of understanding the experience of sign language teaching and learning.
Autoethnography, Deaf and Hearing Identities, Sign Language, Contact Zones
I am grateful to the Irish Research Council for funding the research on which this paper is based (Grant number: GOIPD/2015/73).
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Recommended APA Citation
O'Connell, N. P. (2017). Teaching Irish Sign Language in Contact Zones: An Autoethnography. The Qualitative Report, 22(3), 849-867. https://doi.org/10.46743/2160-3715/2017.2511