forum SignWriting List Forum
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From:  James Womack
Date:  Wed Mar 15, 2000  10:06 am
Subject:  Re: SignWriting as a gateway?


Joe Martin wrote:
>
> This thread arose out of our desire to see SW used as a bridge to English.
> How can this happen if we insist on forcing teachers to make a choice of
> one or the other, by treating SW and English as incompatible? There need
> not be a conflict between the two.

I don't think this is teh intent or even desired. If I understand
most of
the folks right, we want a tool specific to ASL to establish L1
in Deaf
kids. Then once L1 is mastered in not just natural use but
written form
as well, begin establishing an L2. As to how this somehow gets
mis-directed
and miscontrued as an ASL vs. English thing, i have never
understood. You see,
this is not new. In my experience, every time the Deaf suggest
the L1 to L2
approach (and the idea goves waaaaaaayyyy back), it gets beaten
up on as
desiring to discard English for ASL, forcing hearing teachers
into this
or that, or worse. Oddly, it was this behavior that caused me to
drop my own
legendary opposition to Sw and welcome in with open arms. Now,
that's a story I
might tell some day.

> My linguistics classes included examples of many different languages;
> Spanish, French, and others, including English. My interpreter regularly
> signed them all.

This I'd like to see. My Gallaudet experience was that the Deaf
learned
foreign languages better than they did English because the focus
was on
the reading and writing of it and nothing on speech. I suspect
privately, that
since many languages appear backwards when written verbatinm into
English, this fir
teh way ASL is signed and ASL inadverently acted as a L1
reinforcer to learning the
foreign languages. No one ever really reserached this and Inever
pursued it either.
But it was noticed at Gallaudet because the foreign language
teachers brought it up
from time to time. But interpret for these classes? Somehow, it
seems detrimental
and even odd because regular clases put stress on speaking and
discoursing in
those languages, not the heavy read and writing focus that was
done at Gallaudet.

> For those of you who insist that English cannot be
> signed, how do you explain this?
> How can a teacher communicate English to a deaf student?

In written English form. You see, theproblem with English
glossing
of ASL is you tell the kids this is Englsh (a grammatically
correct
English sentence), and this is ASL (English in ASL word order).
All
the kid sees is English words. But when as at Gallaudet, you see
the
direct distinction between the two (how they are spelled, the
grammar
differences, the punctuation, etc (especially in say Russian
cryllic),
the Deaf's mind begins to compare and contrast between what is
known and
what is new. So a kid seeing Sw and written English is accorded
the same
opportunity that a hearing person would have learning to read and
write
a foreign language.

> Furthermore, if we had transcribed those classes, we would have to write
> in SW; we would have French, signed, and written in SW; Spanish, signed,
> and written in SW; ASL, signed, and written in SW, and English, signed,
> and written in SW.

Don't complicate the issue. The point is to establish
a bona fide L1 in Deaf kids so the L2 (spoken language)
can be taught with a higher level of literacy mastery.
I am sure one can haul Sw to the areas you're discussing
but I think most of us share a concern with rasing
the literacy competence of Deaf children.

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

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