Major programme in Bimodal Bilingual Studies (for senior year admission only)

Hong Kong, a thriving cosmopolitan city, is increasingly aware of diversity in society, and the government is actively engaging different sectors to identify ways to tackle this rapidly changing social phenomenon. The Department of Linguistics and Modern Languages of The Chinese University of Hong Kong, established in July 2004, has the goal of nurturing graduates with intellectual calibre as well as bilingual or multilingual competency. After the successful BA Programme in Linguistics, the Department of Linguistics and Modern Languages is launching a 2-year top-up BA Programme in Bimodal Bilingual Studies in 2019 specifically to meet the pressing needs for graduates trained to embrace diversity in language, culture and education of the Hong Kong society.

What is Bimodal Bilingualism?
The term “Bimodal Bilingualism” is a recent coinage in the field of Sign Linguistics to refer to concepts surrounding knowledge and use of spoken and sign languages bilingually by individuals in society. It reflects the burgeoning of research interest in the function of sign language in human cognition and communication in recent years, such as bilingual advantage, bimodal bilingual child development, code-mixing and code blending, concepts that echo and complement the ever-expanding research agendas of spoken language linguistics.

Our Programme
The BA in Bimodal Bilingual Studies is a two-year top-up degree programme having the goal of eventually creating a workforce in society that is competent in spoken and sign languages for professional support in education in different settings, information accessibility in social and professional contexts, social welfare of disadvantaged groups, and many other domains that call for such a unique combination of linguistic skills. The first of its kind in Hong Kong and Asia, this interdisciplinary programme focuses on the study of language science from the perspective of bimodality – auditory/oral and visual/spatial – and bilingualism/multilingualism, and examines how such language knowledge may function effectively in professional settings.

Students enrolled in this programme will be given foundational training in General Linguistics and Sign Linguistics for them to appreciate why both sign and spoken languages enjoy an equal linguistic status for human communication, how children acquire spoken and/or sign languages in a monolingual or bimodal bilingual fashion, how adults may become bimodal bilingual when they acquire a sign language as a second/third language, and how interactions between spoken and sign languages create intriguing benefits for humans in their language, cognitive, and socio-psychological development. Such a new understanding of language will be achieved by requiring students to engage in the learning of Hong Kong Sign Language at levels of linguistic capabilities prescribed by the Common European Framework of References for Languages - Sign Languages, as well as courses that apply knowledge of General Linguistics and Sign Linguistics to certain professional settings, to prepare them to enter the relevant workforce with social acumen and bimodal bilingual sensitivity.