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Visual Language and Visual Learning (VL2)

By ASL, Bilingual, Bilingual Education, Cultural & Medical Perspectives, Early ASL Acquisition, Early Intervention, Early Language Development, Information, Research

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.

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Semilingualism and Monolingualism

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

colourful bubbles with different languages

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.

References:

  1. Cummins, J. (1979). Linguistic Interdependence and the Educational Development of Bilingual Children. Review of Educational Research, 49(2), 222-251.
  2. Grosjean, F. (1992). The Bilingual & the Bicultural Person In the Hearing & in the Deaf World. Sign Language Studies 77, 307-320.

Language Deprivation Syndrome Lecture

By Bilingual, Bilingual Education, Cultural & Medical Perspectives, Early ASL Acquisition, Early Intervention, Early Language Development, Information, Language Deprivation, Research

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.

Growing Together: Creating Language-Rich Environments

By ASL, Bilingual, Bilingual Education, Early Intervention, Early Language Development, Identity, Information, Programs

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.

GO TO VL2 WEBSITE

Through Your Child’s Eyes: American Sign Language

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

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

 

Early Access to Language

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

Indiana School for the Deaf elaborates about the importance of early access to language. For a summary of recent research regarding the importance of early access to language for cognitive development, please check this research article.

RESEARCH ARTICLE