Category

Bilingual

Semilingualism and Monolingualism

By ASL, Bilingual, Information, Research

What does monolingualism mean?

Being monolingual means knowing one language. Many people who grow up in Canada may be monolingual and know only English or French. In contrast, many Deaf Canadians may be bilingual because they use two or more languages, for instance, they might use ASL and the written form of English.

What does semilingualism mean?

In order to become fluently bilingual, with strong language skills in two languages, a child must have early access to a first language or “mother tongue”, preferably from birth. When children are given late, infrequent or inadequate exposure to two or more languages, they may become semilingual rather than bilingual. When a child is semilingual they seem to not have a full grasp of any language, and tend to mix the vocabulary, grammar and structure of the two languages together so that the child may not be fully able to express themselves in any language. In order to reap the benefits of being bilingual, a child must be given the opportunity to develop a strong first language.

What does semilingualism mean for Deaf children?

Since more than 90% of Deaf children are born into hearing families who may not know ASL, it is crucial for parents to make the extra effort so that Deaf children are exposed to a signed language (ASL) as early as possible in order to have a strong first language that is visual and 100% accessible. By being given frequent and consistent exposure to ASL through communication with family members, videos, and socializing with other Deaf children, a first language can develop which is the first step to developing strong language and critical thinking skills. By having ASL as a first language, it will be easier to acquire English because the child already has knowledge of language structure and has the ability to connect ideas. Without frequent exposure to ASL and with only limited access to English (since the child does not have full access to spoken English), the child is in danger of never fully acquiring either ASL or English and becoming semilingual. By making the effort to expose your child to ASL as frequently and as early as possible, your child can thrive and learn how to communicate in two languages- ASL and English.

The Benefits of Bilingualism

By ASL, Bilingual, Bilingual Education, Deaf Culture, Early ASL Acquisition, Early Intervention, Early Language Development, Information, Research

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.

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Myths About Your Deaf Child

By ASL, Bilingual, Bilingual Education, Early ASL Acquisition, Early Intervention, Early Language Development, Information

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.

Common Errors by Young Children Acquiring a Signed Language

By ASL, Bilingual, Bilingual Education, Early ASL Acquisition, Early Language Development, Information, Research

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.

Visit ASLized YouTube Channel

Maximizing Language Acquisition: ASL and Spoken English

By ASL, Bilingual, Bilingual Education, Early ASL Acquisition, Early Intervention, Early Language Development, Information, Research No Comments

This webcast provides an evidence-based rationale for supporting language acquisition in both American Sign Language (ASL) and spoken English for young children who are deaf or hard of hearing. Experienced professionals in deaf education discuss the important ingredients essential to learning language as well as common misconceptions that tend to drive language and communication practices. Designed for professionals involved in early intervention, this webcast highlights how evidence points to use of an ASL and spoken English bilingual approach (sometimes referred to as a bimodal bilingual approach) as beneficial for young children who are deaf or hard of hearing. Accompanying the webcast is a comprehensive reference list to support the information shared.

Go to Gallaudet University’s Website

How Early Intervention Can Make a Difference: Research and Trends

By ASL, Bilingual, Bilingual Education, Cultural & Medical Perspectives, Early ASL Acquisition, Early Intervention, Early Language Development, Information, Research No Comments

Can early intervention really make a difference? Join Dr. Beth Benedict for a webinar on what research is telling us about the importance of early intervention. She will share ways in which the field is evolving and explain what professionals in the field can do to make a difference in areas related to:

  • Visual language and learning
  • English language performance
  • Social-emotional, cognition, and communication development
  • Family involvement and deaf role models
  • Setting high expectations

About the Presenter:

Benedict is a professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Gallaudet University. She is also the coordinator of Gallaudet’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing Infants, Toddlers, and Families: Collaboration and Leadership Interdisciplinary Graduate Certificate Program. She has published numerous articles and is a widely sought-after lecturer on diverse topics, including early intervention, early language acquisition, and family involvement.

Benedict is currently the chair of the Joint Committee on Infant Hearing and a representative on the Council on Education of the Deaf. She is currently serving as president of the American Society for Deaf Children, the oldest organization of, by, and for parents of deaf and hard of hearing children (www.deafchildren.org). In 2010, she received the prestigious Antonia Brancia Maxon Award for EHDI Excellence at the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Conference in Chicago, along with numerous awards. Benedict holds a doctorate in education from Gallaudet, a master’s degree in educational counseling from New York University, and a bachelor’s degree from Gallaudet in psychology. She is also the proud mother of two deaf daughters.

Visit Gallaudet University’s Website

Through Your Child’s Eyes: American Sign Language

By ASL, Bilingual, Bilingual Education, Early ASL Acquisition, Early Intervention, Early Language Development, Information, Research No Comments

Through collaborative efforts of VL2 Lab, California State University at Northridge and the California Department of Education in the dissemination of their video on the benefits of early exposure to a visual language and a bilingual ASL-English Education. A Spanish language version of this video is also available at the same link.

This movie, “Through Your Child’s Eyes,” was created from the vision of the California Department of Education and California State University, Northridge. Funding provided by the Annenberg Foundation.

This video reviews what we know about ASL and bilingualism (research that VL2’s work also corroborates).

All babies benefit from sign language. Thousands of hearing babies learn to sign before they talk. ASL is a language for the whole family and community. Vision is the natural pathway for brain cognition, connections and language acquisition for deaf and hard of hearing children. It taps into the child’s strengths. ASL supports the development of written and spoken English and other languages. Children can easily acquire and use more than one language at the same time. ASL is one of the most widely used languages in the United States. Time is of the essence. Infancy is a critical period for language access and language acquisition. But it’s never too late – hearing people of all ages can learn ASL.

Visit VL2 Website Visit CSUN Website