Deaf Residential Schools in the US...

Cherie Wren cwterp at YAHOO.COM
Mon Jan 15 23:47:47 UTC 2007

But in order to get the schools to accept SW, you have to hit them on what THEY think is important:  and that is English.  Period.  End of story.  so although SW will have benefits far beyond its limited use in promoting English literacy, that HAS to be the sell point.  Because that is all Deaf education is about right now.  English Literacy.  Oh, those other things get done, but English Literacy is THE goal of Deaf education in the United States, sad to say.  And although there is no proof, there is research that supports it.  Read Cummins on bilingual education.  He proposes a theory that In bilingual education (he is talking about Spanish/English) there are two ways to get to English Literacy for Spanish speaking students.  One is via spoken English, the other is via Written Spanish.  Apply that to Deaf kids.  Teh 'via spoken English ' route is not applicable.  So the route to English Literacy will only come via written ASL.  There is also research that proves that ASL
 proficiency  (Not only in Deaf of Deaf, but in Deaf of hearing with strong ASL skills)has a very high correlation with English Literacy.  That is to say, if the kid has a strong first language, he will be able to get the second language easier.  So SW wins again, because while you teach written signing, you can teach ASL at the same time.  Here at GSD, we hope to get some of that proof that everyone wants to see...  but you can't get proof till someone does the research , and you can't do the research till you have proof, at least in our case...


----- Original Message ----
From: "James Shepard-Kegl, Esq." <kegl at MAINE.RR.COM>
To: sw-l at
Sent: Monday, January 15, 2007 5:50:14 PM
Subject: Re: [sw-l] Deaf Residential Schools in the US...

Re: [sw-l] Deaf Residential Schools in the US...

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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