forum SignWriting List Forum
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From:  Ronald Zapien
Date:  Mon Sep 28, 1998  5:45 pm
Subject:  Re: Literacy Data


Hi, Cheryl here. Yes, you are ever so right. I was sharing the cards with my
parents who don't sign. I was showing them how to decode a sign and also how
sign writing is read (actually, they got to see me in the process of "sounding"
a sign out. The mental activity is very much the same process as sounding a
word out in English. (I'm learning the rules here still)). Anyway, my dad
mentioned this method used with oral languages where you take the person's
native language and the target language and put a picture of the word inbetween
the two. It's a way of teaching the lexicon of the Target language. They
suggested this as a tool for teaching Spanish once the kids learn to read and
write Nicaraguan Sign Language. I'm sure y'all have thought of this already.
This project could also be included with the translation projects being
considered.

James is also correct about the lack of really good ASL grammar training texts.
I can't tell you how many times I've had people say--well, I'm not exactly sure
what the order is (and these are folks who are fluent). I'm learning alot from
decoding the "sentences". ASL is so flexible--more so than English--so it is
very confusing to newcomers to the language. I know that my initial response
was that I wanted someone to tell me the rules. I almost short-circuited when I
was told there was more than one way to create a pronoun! *smile* Coming from a
rigid English backgroud--It really helps to see the structure in black and
white. I sat down with my mom and broke down the word "house" using the sign
writing flash cards and I believe they made sense to her when I was finished.
My dad did not do as well.

My two cents, Cheryl

Valerie Sutton wrote:

> 9/27/98
> Dear SW List Members - This message was sent privately to me last night by
> mistake, and now the author has requested that I post it to the list. Here
> it is:
>
> Date: Sat, 26 Sep 1998 21:44:58 -0400 (EDT)
> To: SignWriting
> From: Judy Kegl
> Subject: Re: Literacy Data
>
> Colleen Hardman wrote, in pertinent part:
> >>I found a brochure lying on a table in the entry way of the
> >>library of the Oregon School for the Deaf. Even though they displayed
> >>the brochure, educators I talked to cringed at the thought of teaching
> >>the method. They said, "Every thing is written in English, not sign
> >>language." And, "It's hard enough teaching written English without
> >>confusing children with another method." As an educator I want the
> >>oportunity to teach deaf children who have failed to learn to read English
> >>a chance to read in their own language. In order to do this I will need
> >>data to prove Sign Writing increases literacy in deaf children.
>
> I suspect that what hearing educators are really saying is that it's hard
> enough teaching ASL without confusing teachers with a written system, as
> well. Anyway, my real concern is Colleen's suggestion that SW is an option
> for deaf children who have failed to learn to read English. I think it is
> very important to believe that SW is NOT for children who FAIL, but an
> opportunity for deaf children to learn to read and write and understand a
> second language with the SAME ADVANTAGE that hearing children enjoy when
> they tackle a second language. We do not teach French (written or spoken)
> to hearing students until AFTER they learn to write English, their first
> language. So, why do we persist in demanding that deaf children learn to
> write English -- a second language -- before they write ASL? The answer is
> that SW is not taught to educators (for whom, generally, ASL is a second
> language.)
>
> SW is not for deaf children who fail. SW is for everybody. Through it,
> students learn to criticlly analyze the grammar and syntax of ASL, their
> native language. Through it, they learn punctuation, editing, paragraph
> writing, storytelling. Through it, they learn decoding skills and critical
> thinking. And, as the literature grows , through it they can have access
> to history, culture and stories presently unaccessible by many. Like ASL,
> SW is a key to empowering Deaf teachers and students.
>
> I submit that a student who knows the grammar rules of his native language
> is better equipped to learn the grammar rules of a second language. For
> all hearing children, our entire educational system already adheres to this
> principle. Only Deaf children are excepted. I submit that Deaf children
> who can read and write ASL will learn English quicker and to a higher level
> than their Deaf peers who never learn to read their native language.
>
> I further submit that for Deaf children who are late ASL learners, they
> will achieve a higher level of language sophistication if they are taught
> ASL in conjunction with SW. Again, the reason is that through SW we can
> teach grammar analysis. Children may acquire grammar and syntax through
> some intuitive ability, but teenagers have to reason it out. The research
> in Nicaragua bears out the desirability of teaching grammar and syntax
> through SW to late language learners.
>
> SW also is a tremendous tool for teaching ASL to hearing parents,
> especially those who have trouble seeing the signs. There is surely a lack
> of literature and ASL grammar training texts in SW -- BUT THE POTENTIAL IS
> ENORMOUS.
>
> -- James Shepard-Kegl
>
> ____________________________________
>
> Valerie :-)
>
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
>
>
> Visit the SignWritingSite:
> http://www.SignWriting.org
>
> Valerie Sutton at The DAC
> Deaf Action Committee For SignWriting
> Box 517, La Jolla, CA, 92038-0517, USA
> (619)456-0098 voice
> (619)456-0010 tty
> (619)456-0020 fax
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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