Deaf Residential Schools in the US...

James Shepard-Kegl, Esq. kegl at MAINE.RR.COM
Mon Jan 15 22:50:14 UTC 2007

I respectfully submit that when you propose SW as a bridge to English
literacy in the school system, you are missing the point.

SW is a valuable tool for giving a Deaf signer metalinguistic skills in his
or her native language (i.e., understanding labels like nouns, verbs,
classifiers, role shifting, shared references, and so forth.)  Having
metalinguistic skills in your own language is critical to learning the
grammar and syntax of a foreign (that is, non-native) language.

But, if you are expecting miracle English literacy achievement through SW,
think again.  SW helps, to be sure, and a greater proponent than I you will
not find, but do not oversell the concept, as proof is scarce.

Where SW is really, really beneficial is:  MATH, SCIENCE, HISTORY.

Math, to be of any real value in life, is all about applied math, which we
learn through practicing those dreaded verbal problems.  Use SW to teach
them, so that the Deaf child knows what you are talking about.  Otherwise,
the math problem just becomes an English problem, and if you do not read
English, you appear to be moronic.  Try TWO PLUS TWO in Chinese and see how
far you get.

My daughter's teachers in Portland, Maine High School are encouraging her to
answer her science tests in SW -- because the goal is achievement in the
material taught in that particular class, not rote memorization of English
without any real comprehension.

-- James

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