forum SignWriting List Forum
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From:  James Womack
Date:  Sat Mar 11, 2000  11:12 am
Subject:  Re: SignWriting as a gateway?


----- Original Message -----
From: "Don & Theresa G"
To:
Sent: Friday, March 10, 2000 12:10 PM
Subject: Re: SignWriting as a gateway?


> 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 want to forego the comment you're responding to and discuss the value of
SW as a
bridging tool.

I agree, English literacy is the goal, ultimately. I advocate the use of SW
but do not think it should REPLACE English as appears to be the outcome
of the comment you are responding to. However, I suspect the kids are
experiencing
a natural phenomenon. Have struggled and experienced extreme frustration
with inadequate
instruction methods for tecahing English to the Deaf and feeling if not
being made to feel
"stupid" the success in being able to WRITE ASL is held with much dearness.
You see,
humans love and repeat sucessful behavior. Successful meaning any behavior
where
a desired outcome is achieved (whether it is positive or not).

I have an idea that possibly has yet to be employed. Begunning with
elementary and
even pre-schoolers, establish a solid first language and skill in both
signing
it and writng it (as is done with hearing kids an English). When written
mastery
is achieved as per a standardized Sw criteria (test not yet developed),
begin
teaching WRITTEN ASL to WRITTEN English translating skills, with English
being the second language learning experience. Such an endeavor must be a
coordinated,
evaluated, and structured approach. If thsi is not done, the same mistakes
that were
and are made with oralism, C.A.S.E. , SEE1, SEE2 , M.S.S., etc will just be
repeated in a
different form.
>
> 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.

Because the system does not allow for it due to its English only approach
while damning the fact that Deaf kids can't hear and do require a very
distinct
apporach to achieve English mastery. The bottoline is, and despite noises to
the contrary, ASL is NOT welcome in Deaf Education--period. As stated
above, you wantt o focus on establishing a solidly established first
language
that fits the fact that the kid is Deaf and CANNOT, let me repeat, CANNOT
acquire English naturally. English is an aural and oral language, the child
is
cut off wholly or partially from the process of natural acquisition and the
artificial
methods employed do not work for the majority of Deaf kids no matter how
many theories,
excuses, demands, policies, or other absurdities you throw at it. Therefore,
you focus
on what can be naturally acquired to establish the foundation needed to
provide
teh means to acquire the second language--English. But folks like me who
advocate
thsi are called fools, trouble-makers and worse. The common sense of the
idea is
just not seeable by people who make program decisions.


> 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 have a better one. How can teachers, schools, etc keep robbing kids of
achieving competency by pushing something that has not and is not working
for the majority of Deaf kids and resisting any real change fervently?




http://www.education.eku.edu/Sed/faculty/womack/default.htm

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