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From:  Judy Kegl
Date:  Wed Sep 16, 1998  2:38 am
Subject:  Re: SW for Second Graders

The problem, in my humble opinion, is not that the SW ASL material is too
complex for second graders. Rather, it is all too simple. If you want to
teach kids to read , then you have to be able to read to them. The stuff
teachers read to hearing second graders is pretty sophisticated stuff. The
books the second graders themselves read are vastly more sophisticated than
anything I have seen in SW ASL so far, with the excpetion of occasional

There is no overnight solution. Instead, there needs to be an intensive
effort to produce the literature -- not ten sentence basic adaptations of
stories that merely gut them, but truly complex stuff. Educators and
storytellers should be assisting ASL speakers in producing SW adaptations.
(I appreciate that much of the SW material thus far is intended as

The advantage of SW -- the real miracle of SW -- is that the system
potentially puts Deaf kids at a par with their hearing peers when it comes
to learning to read and write in their native language. But, you have to
level the rest of the playing field for this to work. That means the Deaf
kids need the same quality stuff, in SW, that hearing kids get in English,

So, there should be stories with adjectives -- lots of them --, similes,
metaphors and so forth. Sure, you need basic sentence structures, but you
need relatives and conditionals, too. ASL uses all this all some form of
grammatical equivalent. And, you need stories with depth -- stuff that
really peaks the interest.

Produce these, and read them to kids everyday, and they will be truly
motivated to want to read. Combine this with really basic stuff for
beginner readers to learn to read and write. Flash cards have their place,
but children learn to read by recognizing whole words in context. SW is
visually phonetic -- that's why it's so valuable. But, phonetics alone are
not enough.

To adapt a story from English to ASL, you need: 1) a fluent reader of
English who can teach storywriting; 2) a fluent ASL signer ; and 3) an
adept user of SW. Also, respectfully, the notion that Deaf people's
judgment in producing SW stories is inherently superior to that of hearing
people whose culture revolves around putting spoken thoughts to pen is
crap. (Well, now there, I've said it. But, then I'll bet you no one has
produced as much literature in SW as I have. Alas, it's all in the wrong
sign language for y'all in the States. I have been at it with a team for
two years now, and that's why we have as much as we do. Still, we have
just scratched the surface (one of those metaphors even second graders

So, if you want to contact me to assemble a team -- I'm in the USA 7 months
a year.

-- James Shepard-Kegl, director, Escuelita de Bluefields (Nicaragua)

  Replies Author Date
336 Re: SW for Second Graders Valerie Sutton Wed  9/16/1998
339 Re: SW for Second Graders Judy Kegl Wed  9/16/1998
361 Re: SW for Second Graders Mark Penner Fri  9/18/1998
340 Start Your Own SW Web Site? Valerie Sutton Wed  9/16/1998
345 Re: SW for Second Graders Ruth E Kartchner Wed  9/16/1998

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