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From:  Ronald Zapien
Date:  Sun Mar 12, 2000  6:00 pm
Subject:  Re: SignWriting as a gateway?

Here is a suggestion I just thought of. We have quite a few list members from
foreign nations which teach other languages really early on (1st, 2nd, and 3rd
grade). I do not know if they bother teaching them the written form of the
language at that stage of the game, but if you can find out when they begin
teaching the written form of the language (the optimal time) you can then
transfer those principles over to your idea here. Cheryl

Stuart Thiessen wrote:

> It seems to me that the best approach is to catch the kids as early as
> possible and teach them in ASL with SW from the beginning. Once ASL and SW
> are firm enough in their minds, then we begin to phase out actual teaching
> of SW as such and begin to **use it** to build a bridge to English. Which
> grade that would mean for sure, I am not certain. But, to teach English
> first, in my opinion, is to put the cart before the horse. By having the SW
> basics down, we can then utilize that tool to teach them English as a
> second language and they have the tools to compare the two languages. We
> would also have the opportunity to prepare appropriate English/ASL and
> ASL/English dictionaries, to develop English grammar books in ASL, to
> develop vocabulary cards and other instruction media in ASL, etc, etc. The
> whole process of instruction becomes easier because you can introduce
> English in the context of ASL. By using a language in a medium they can
> understand, they will have a basis and background for understanding a
> language that is in a medium they may not understand as well.
> My two bits,
> Stuart
> At 09:10 03/10/2000 -0800, you wrote:
> >----- Original Message -----
> >From: Akehurst
> >
> > > I am not the children's 'school' teacher so I'm not really sure about
> >their
> > > abilities to read in English improving (actually, when they are with me,
> > > they don't want to read in English they want to read in SW) but my
> > > impression is that they are improving. The parents have asked me to join
> >
> >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 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?
> >
> >--Donald Grushkin
> > Ph.D., Language, Reading & Culture (Bilingual Education)

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