forum SignWriting List Forum
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From:  Joe Martin
Date:  Sat Mar 11, 2000  1:05 am
Subject:  Re: SignWriting as a gateway?

On Fri, 10 Mar 2000, Don & Theresa G wrote:
> This observation is something that concerns me. I do support, tentatively,
> the idea of a writing system for sign language that could help Deaf kids
> learn to write in their own language. However, as we all know, Enlgish is
> the lingua Franca of our American society, not to mention the world. Being
> able to use English through reading and writing is SO vital for them. From
> what I see from this comment, it sounds like they would rather do all their
> reading and writing in SW rather than bilingually switch between the two
> (which would be just fine with me). We know how hard English can be for
> deaf kids to learn, so it sounds here as if they're trying to "take the easy
> way out" (I hate that phrase for its application to oralism and sign, but it
> is appropos here) by sticking with SW rather than English.

I believe there are a number of studies now showing that L1 proficiency
aids in L2 learning. Beyond that, .....

my wife just came back from two weeks in Taiwan. Her report matches others
I've heard, of being on the verge of tears the whole time she was there,
due to being "illiterate." The simplest act of communication became a
humiliating struggle to find a restroom, make a phone call, etc. She took
the easy way out and fell back on English when she could....
Somehow deaf people are supposed to be immune to all this? That's a
little insulting.

> I mentioned SW to my wife, who is an elementary teacher of the deaf at a
> school for the deaf. One thing she said, in addition to the fact that SW is
> not "English" (as it shouldn't be), is that for her, she finds no way she
> could make room in her schedule to teach English AND SW, even if she were so
> inclined. How do the classroom teachers out there make time for both SW and
> English instruction? How do the classroom teachers help the kids make the
> connections and transitions between SW and English?

I don't see why SW can't be English. Most of the SW I see tends to *be
signed English rather than ASL.
I'm studying Japanese in my school. It is very difficult for me to read.
In order to understand a line of text, I sometimes write it out in the
Roman alphabet; then I can translate it to English.
For difficult passages, I have to write them out first in English, then
change them to Japanese (Kana/Kanji) and then I can write them in
For easy passages I skip all that, which is the goal, but
If I weren't allowed to do this, I would quit. Instantly.

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