Determining aspects of text difficulty for the Sign Language of the Netherlands (NGT) Functional Assessment instrument
Annieck van den Broek-Laven, E. Boers-Visker & B. van den Bogaerde, Hogeschool Utrecht, University of Applied Sciences
Volume 3, Issue 2, 2014
Abstract: In this paper we describe our work in progress on the development of a set of criteria to predict text difficulty in Sign Language of the Netherlands (NGT). These texts are used in a four year bachelor program, which is being brought in line with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (Council of Europe, 2001). Production and interaction proficiency are assessed through the NGT Functional Assessment instrument, adapted from the Sign Language Proficiency Interview (Caccamise & Samar, 2009). With this test we were able to determine that after one year of NGT-study students produce NGT at CEFR-level A2, after two years they sign at level B1, and after four years they are proficient in NGT on CEFR-level B2. As a result of that we were able to identify NGT texts that were matched to the level of students at certain stages in their studies with a CEFR-level. These texts were then analysed for sign familiarity, morpheme-sign rate, use of space and use of non-manual signals. All of these elements appear to be relevant for the determination of a good alignment between the difficulty of NGT signed texts and the targeted CEFR level, although only the morpheme-sign rate appears to be a decisive indicator.
Keywords: CEFR, Sign Language, Comprehension, Text difficulty, Higher Education