ASL proficiency and English reading and writing

Shane Gilchrist O hEorpa shane.gilchrist.oheorpa at GMAIL.COM
Sun Jan 29 01:29:41 UTC 2006

Barbara & Anny,

we have so much work to do - things were simpler many years ago -
thats when teachers used to live at the same school as the kids - and
take care of their after-school activities which is easy for them to
pick up sign language - it was the same for the Belfast School here -
until its move to Jordanstown and the practice of teachers living at
the school have dropped off - not even the present headteacher at the
School lives on the campus anymore :-(

It is important that each deaf class HAS to have a deaf FLUENT
educator - let it be a deaf assistant or a deaf teacher - at the
moment, there are a very few deaf teachers - we have Agnes Carberry, a
lovely deaf woman working there as the Language Assistant which is
paid for out of the Ulster Society reserves as the education boards
won't pay for her - we are trying to bring in more deaf
assistants/teachers but with the falling numbers, its not easy - from
its heydays when the School had 250 deaf kids, we have 27 deaf kids
spreading over the age range 4-18 :-(

Shane Gilchrist Ó hEorpa
The Ulster Society (Jordanstown Schools)

On 28/01/06, Anne-Claude Prélaz Girod <acpg at> wrote:
>  De : "Barbara O'Dea" <odeab at UNM.EDU>
>  Répondre à : sw-l at
>  Date : Fri, 27 Jan 2006 14:58:09 -0800
>  À : sw-l at
>  Objet : [sw-l] ASL proficiency and English reading and writing
> I hope no one minds that I've changed the subject line (thread) for my
> response to Anny's posting.
>  The fact that Deaf people learn to read English at all, never ceases to
> amaze me.
>  There seems to be "agreement" that there is a relationship between ASL
> first language proficiency and the degree of English reading and writing
> proficiency.
>  different works on this topic shows this!! (Prinz & Strong... and other
> researchers too)
>  With this in mind, I have few questions/comments.
>  1. Are most Deaf children proficient in ASL when they start school? My
> experience says NO!
>  My experience says NO too... and it's quite normal because 90% of the deaf
> kid have hearing parents.... only 10% are born in deaf families.... so most
> porfoundly deaf children arriving in a deaf school just have about no
> language skills at all
>  2. Do schools, then, provide a language acquisition environment for those
> who are not? My experience says NO!
>  My experience (here in Switzerland) says NO too!!! but I have to add that
> most "bilingual school" try to offer a language acquisition environment
> using SL... they hired deaf professionnals (even so it's far to be perfect!)
>  I would n't call these school bilingual (most of them just offer a few
> hours sign language course...) and SL is not used all the time....
>  3. Do schools hold off "trying to" teach English reading and writing to
> Deaf children until they have ASL proficiency at least equal to the English
> proficiency hearing children have when they are expected to read their first
> language - English? My experience says NO!
>  My experience says NO too... but I personnaly tried to do so with the
> children I used to work with (as a speech therapist) and It's just great to
> notice how once deaf children master their own language they can get what we
> expect from them in french, they already now what language is about, they
> already have metalinguistic skills that help them work on a second language.
> I'm 100% sure SW them acquiring more metalinguistic skills on their own
> language, which they can then use learning another writing language.
>  So, there is "agreement". What are educators doing about it? Is this
> "agreement" part of pedagogy developed for Deaf education? Sad to say, my
> experience says NO!
>  I'm very sorry to say NO too... but things can be changed!!! I'm giving my
> time and energy to try and introduce SW into deaf schools here, and also
> working to help the deaf professionnal showing politics how important it is
> to develop true pedagogical tools to teach and work on SL... Not easy...
> especially when there's just no money at all... and especially when the
> politics tend to say deaf children have to be in "normal" classes with
> hearing children (not in deaf schools any more...) The deaf community here
> is afraid about this situation... and the influence it's going to have on
> their language Signlanguage!!!
>  I like your posting very much.... because it just reminds me how much work
> I still have to do... I'm just so sure about this I just can't give up!!
>  Maybe I'm too optimistic... oh well at least I will have tried!!
>  Take care and have a beautiful sunday
>  Anny
>  odeeodee
>  Anne-Claude Prélaz Girod wrote:
> did you read Cecilia Flood thesis ?
>  that's a good start about how SW can bring self esteem....
>  I personnally don't have experience using SW with deaf children but I'm
>  profoundly convinced it can help them acquire litteracy in the oral
>  language... skills in sign language can help deaf children develop better
>  skill in the oral language
>  There are different works on bilingualism (nothing to do with SW BUT...
> )and
>  the advantage of developping good skills in SL in order to help chiuldren
>  develpop skills in their second language : did you read the different
>  articles of Philip Prinz and Mickael Strong US (I can find the article if
>  you are interested  I should have it somewhere in my papers...)
>  Did you also read François Grosjean's works on bilingualism (university of
>  Neuchâtel, Switzerland)... (I have these document in my computer so I can
>  send them to you if you're interested... just have to check with François
>  (he used to be my teacher) if it's Ok for me to do so!!)
>  both works tend to show how important it is for deaf kids to develop good
>  skills in their first language (SL)....
>  I wrote a short text on using Sw to help deaf children develop litteracy...
>  but it's in french...  (you can find it on the
> <> ...)
>  Hope it helped
>  Anny
> De : "Shane Gilchrist O hEorpa"
> <shane.gilchrist.oheorpa at>
> <mailto:shane.gilchrist.oheorpa at>
>  Répondre à : sw-l at
>  Date : Thu, 26 Jan 2006 22:33:00 +0000
>  À : SW-L at
>  Objet : [sw-l] detailed argument for SignWriting to be used in Deaf
> Education
>  hi everyone,
>  sorry for not contributing in the past month - as much as I love you
>  all, work demands my fullest attention of lately!!!
>  as some of you know im one of the Trustees for the Deaf School here in
>  Belfast, im trying to put together a detailed argument why we should
>  teach sign-writing to deaf children in my School - perhaps you can
>  tell me why it is important for them to learn this - and for what
>  purposes?
>  Shane xx

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