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From:  "Angus B. Grieve-Smith"
Date:  Thu Mar 9, 2000  1:35 am
Subject:  Re: SignWriting as a gateway?

On Tue, 7 Mar 2000, cmf wrote:

> Will signwriting make that difference...the difference in 'knowledge'
> and 'writing abilities' for DHH students leaving schools at age 18
> 'plus'?

It's a good question, and it hinges on two others in my mind. I
think it definitely would in a world where those students could get all
their textbooks, plus as much recreational reading as they wanted, in
their native languages in SignWriting. That's not going to happen any
time soon.

First, as you mentioned in your proposal defense, Cummins argues
that literacy in the first language helps literacy in the second
language. This is the hypothesis that your study, and the whole
SignWriting Literacy Project, are based on: if students can get literacy
in their own language in SignWriting, they develop skills that they can
then apply to the textbooks written in a spoken language.

Second, maybe it's enough for a spoken language, but is it enough
for a signed langauge? How many students will be able to overcome the
challenge of learning to read a language that they have never heard or

> The 'young learners' of signwriting that I am presently working with,
> age 6 through 11, do not appear 'burdened'. They truely are enjoying
> learning to read and write the signs that are very much a part of
> their knowledge and language abilities.

I think if nothing else, an activity that empowers the students
and gives them confidence, as well as providing a tool that they can at
least use to leave notes on the fridge, is worth it.

> I suppose after another 8 to 12 years we could ask these young
> learners how SignWriting has enhanced or burdened their lives.

I'm looking forward to the answers. Keep on having fun with it.

-Angus B. Grieve-Smith
Linguistics Department
University of New Mexico

  Replies Author Date
3026 Re: SignWriting as a gateway? Akehurst Thu  3/9/2000

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