Glossing in Auslan

In the curriculum
Glossing is only introduced in the Victorian Curriculum at Levels 5 and 6, at VCASU048. That content descriptor encourages students to explore ways of annotating and transcribing texts using multimedia software and/or glossing conventions.

Within the elaborations for that descriptor, teachers are invited to have students ‘read’ a glossed text (I’ve provided an example later in this document) and/or to gloss a text with appropriate support, using a system which works for them.

Glossing becomes far more significant at Levels 7 to 10, as part of the Understanding sub-strand, but that is beyond the scope of my teaching.

Assumed purpose behind the contentAt Levels 5 and 6, students are expected to plan and deliver short presentations in Auslan. Based on the elaborations, these can be very short (e.g. ‘My name is Adrian. I like Jupiter. Jupiter is big. I don’t like Mercury.’) but can vary in scope/content/topic – for example, one elaboration explicitly invites learners to present on topics covered in other curriculum areas, such as recounting a procedure in a P.E. or Science lesson.

It would be unreasonable to expect learners to memorise a presentation – we would be unlikely to expect them to do this even in their L1. Glossing allows learners to effectively plan and take notes for such a presentation. While they could always write in their L1, e.g. ‘My name is Adrian.’, learners would still then be required to ‘translate’ into Auslan on the fly – glossing would instead result in notes like ‘PRO1 NAME A-D-R-I-A-N’, or even just ‘PRO1 A-D-R-I-A-N’ or ‘NAME A-D-R-I-A-N’. An almost literal ‘word-for-word’ script to follow.

Additionally, glossing activities can assist students to demonstrate their understanding of Auslan grammar. Glossing short, signed phrases accurately can show that learners are aware that word order and sentence structure in Auslan is flexible. Translating glossing into properly-constructed English phrases serves a similar purpose.

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