Little is known about how Deaf and severely hard-of-hearing persons learn foreign languages and what language-learning opportunities are available for them at school or in adulthood. There are Deaf youngsters at schools who hope to be able to use English in adulthood, and there are also Deaf adults motivated to learn languages, but their possibilities are far from ideal. This study aims to call attention to the disadvantaged situation of this special group of people by providing insight into their learning needs, their motivation, and their difficulties.
The author explores the foreign-language learning opportunities and experiences of Deaf adults based on data derived from questionnaires and individual interviews conducted in different projects between 2006 and 2016 in Hungary.
Results and conclusion
Research results show that the lack of teaching methodology and the shortage of learning materials specifically developed for language learners with special needs put these individuals in a highly disadvantaged situation. Both Hungarian and international data support the view that the introduction of bilingual education at schools and the provision of language teachers who know sign language could improve the situation of Deaf foreign-language learners to a great extent. There is also a need for language schools that are both willing to cater for the needs of adult learners with hearing loss and are capable of providing appropriate circumstances for them.