E-learning module for the German Sign Language (DGS) courses

Funded by the the program „Innovation plus“ (MWK)


Andreas Döltgen
Thomas Finkbeiner
Dorothee Nyga
Nina-Kristin Pendzich
Markus Steinbach

Project description

In our DGS courses, students are imparted in practical language skills, basic knowledge of the grammar of the DGS as well as the culture and history of deaf people in Germany. While selected linguistic aspects of the grammar of DGS can still be described with the help of written German texts, linguistic glosses and stills of individual signs, the use of videos of DGS examples is essential not only for a lexicon comprising all signs used in the courses but also for selected practical exercises and assignments. Therefore, it makes sense to work with a combination of different media. The central aim of this project is the development of an interactive e-learning module that provides all learning material online in a way compatible with the learning objectives of the course. The e-learning module enables all students participating in the course to improve their DGS skills and to acquire additional knowledge about the language, communication and culture of deaf people either in the class, in study groups or in self-learning units .

The e-learning module developed in this project will consist of four components. The technical options available in ILIAS (such as flash cards with videos, interactive videos, ePortfolio) are used to successfully implement all four components.

(i) A lexicon of the basic vocabulary of the DGS, which is used in the sign language courses and which should be acquired by each student at the end of the respective course. Since sign languages neither have an established writing system nor are (complex) phonological transcriptions - due to the specific properties of the visual-gestural modality - practicable in teaching and learning contexts, the online lexicon offers students an ideal opportunity to refresh and deepen their lexical knowledge. With the help of the lexicon, students can specifically repeat and practice the signs learned in each teaching unit.

(ii) Exercises accompanying the courses, which can be accomplished in class and at home either alone or in groups. All exercises are adapted to the level of the course and include simple tasks on the lexicon or fingerspelling as well as more complex tasks on morphology and syntax, in which, for example, students are asked to identify and correct errors in a video. In addition, practical language tasks involving typical communication situations are intended to improve the students' general communicative skills.

(iii) A glossary that provides brief and easy explanations of the most important basic grammatical and cultural-scientific terms. The glossary is linked to the other three components so that the explanations for a term listed in the glossary are available if required. In the first step, a glossary in German is planned, as the students in the beginners' courses do not yet have the necessary DGS knowledge. In the long term, the glossary should be bilingual (German and DGS).

(iv) Explanations on relevant grammatical and socio-cultural topics, which are kept as simple and theory-neutral as possible and illustrated with visuals. The aim is to offer a descriptive explanation of the grammatical structure of DGS and cultural background of the DGS community to give the students first insights into the grammar of the DGS and deaf culture and history.