The Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center at Gallaudet University is a federally funded center with exemplary elementary and secondary education programs for deaf and hard of hearing students and is tasked with developing and disseminating innovative curricula, instructional techniques, and products nationwide while providing information, training, and technical assistance for parents and professionals to meet the needs of deaf and hard of hearing students from birth to age 21.
The purpose of the Science of Learning Center at Gallaudet University on “Visual Language and Visual Learning (VL2)” is to advance the Science of Learning specifically involving how aspects of human higher cognition are realized through one of our most central senses, vision. We seek to determine the effects of visual processes, visual language, and social experience on the development of cognition, language, reading, and literacy for the benefit of all humans. We especially pursue new perspectives on these learning processes through the widened vantage point of studying deaf individuals and sign language as a window into the flexibility and structure of the human mind. We study these learning processes in monolinguals and bilinguals across the lifespan in order to promote optimal practices in education in both formal and informal settings.
The Benefits of Bilingualism: Impacts on Language and Cognitive Development:
Bilingualism can be briefly defined as someone who regularly uses two languages. According to researcher Franḉois Grosjean (who studies American Sign Language cognitive processing), bilingualism is the norm throughout most of the world. The proficiency levels between the two languages can vary throughout someone’s lifetime based on how much they use the language.
Many Deaf people are fluent in a signed language as well as a spoken or written form of a spoken language; because of this, it is probable that bilingualism is more common with Deaf individuals than hearing individuals. Proficiency in the two languages depends on the level of proficiency needed for the context (for example, is the language used solely at home or solely at school? This will result in different vocabulary). Proficiency will also depend on when the language was acquired.
Learning two languages is a very natural process for children, and it does not result in or cause cognitive or linguistic delays. A child learning two languages is able to achieve all the same milestones as a child who is learning only one language – everything from babbling to acquiring grammatical structures. This includes children who are learning American Sign Language (ASL) and English.
The most obvious benefit of being bilingual is the ability to communicate in two languages. It is beneficial to learn these two languages as early as possible in your life. Vocabulary is acquired easier and more quickly in both languages for people who are bilingual. In addition, managing two languages has cognitive benefits such as a better ability to pay attention, better control of impulses, better conflict resolution skills, and increased working memory.
Deaf children can greatly benefit from going to a bilingual school because if they have high proficiency in ASL, they may also have high proficiency in English and improved academic achievement. By exposing Deaf children to ASL, they are able to develop skills such as critical thinking and complex reasoning which can help their second language literacy development.
It is beneficial to use ASL when your Deaf child is present, not only when you are directly communicating with them. This means exposure to different types of conversations such as arguments, small talk, and communication between different age groups. Using English with your Deaf child by reading books and translating them into ASL shows that communication can be in both languages and helps them to understand how both languages work.
A LEAD-K and Nyle DiMarco production created by Convo.
There are many misconceptions about how a Deaf child acquires language. We’ve seen many of them: sign language hinders your child’s ability to learn English; parents must be fluent in sign language in order to teach their Deaf child. What’s the truth? Five common myths about your Deaf child, resolved.
Adam Stone explains that no matter what language a child is learning, be it spoken or signed, they will make mistakes. Here, Adam goes into detail about three common mistakes children make while learning a signed language, and rest assured, these are all part of the normal language acquisition process.
Established as a National Science Foundation Science of Learning Center in 2006, Visual Language and Visual Learning (VL2) seeks to advance understanding of the behavioral and brain mechanisms of learning.
Through collaborative research, the Center works to answer fundamental science questions about higher cognition and how humans learn, especially learning through the eyes. We investigate the effect of visual processes, visual language, and visual learning and social experiences on the development of cognition and language, reading, and literacy. With a particular focus on deaf individuals and sign language, we study learning processes in monolinguals and bilinguals across the life span in order to promote the meaningful translation of science for the benefit of education and society.
VL2 has created a set of visually appealing and accessible materials about VL2’s research on the advantages of early visual language and ASL-English bilingualism and what this means for deaf and hard of hearing children’s language acquisition and literacy.
“Growing Together: Creating Language-Rich Environments” is a series of interviews with parents, researchers, and scientists.
The single greatest risk faced by Deaf people is inadequate exposure to a usable first language. Dr. Gulati reviews recent research which validates the anatomical basis and time course of the critical period for first language acquisition, and which shows the risks to the development of empathetic abilities among children who are language-deprived.
There is an array of educational ASL videos to enhance Deaf students’ language learning. It includes ASL storytelling, ASL grammatical units, ASL poetry, and many more. This is a property of Rocky Mountain Deaf School, a bilingual charter school located in Denver, Colorado.