forum SignWriting List Forum
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From:  Cheryl Zapien
Date:  Fri Dec 4, 1998  1:21 pm
Subject:  Re: why deaf people didn't learn signwrite?

Hi Trevor!!

I do agree with both you regarding the abysmal failure of most school systems
it comes to them actually teaching the rules of grammar. I too, have ventured
into about 5 other languages outside of American English (I would venture to say
that the English we share is, more often than not, different (another funny
story)*smile*. Back, many years ago, when I was learning French, I learned
the rules govening infinitives for both French and English in the same year, on
the same day, in two separate classrooms. First my French teacher explained the
concept and then my English grammar teacher taught the same concept.
Unfortunately, where I grew up, grammar was not given the same emphasis as
literature. This was not the case in my husband's school, 2,000 miles from
I grew up. They had an enviable program. This all being said, I think that it
critical to realize that some of the difficulties that Lourdes and other pre-pro
individuals run into is not only plain old poor teaching, but also native feel
English. Most English speakers may not know the grammar "rule" which governs
usage, but most know if a sentence sounds right. In fact, that is one of the
ways of checking grammar for a hearing person--the ear knows even if the head
doesn't. If you've never heard a language, it is difficult to have a native
for it. If you then refuse to read, because reading is difficult due to poor
teaching, you've blocked all access to the grammar of your target spoken
language. By the way, I think the same statements regarding "native feel" could
be made for ASL, except of course, you must substitute "sounds right" to "looks

IMHO, the beauty of SW is that it teaches, early on, code representation for
language. If these skills can be transferred to the written version of the
language and real literacy can be achieved in both signed and spoken languages,
how can these children help but be successful.

Hope I've offended none. Cheryl

Trevor Jenkins wrote:

> > I read what Lourdes wrote and I have to agree with what she said. We,
> > profoundly deaf, do have a hard time with grammars, huge vocabulary, etc. I
> > dont know why is that.
> I can't say why this is a problem for the Deaf but I do know that it is
> problem for hearers. My observation may be limited to the British culture. It
> (my observation) may also be applicable to other cultures too.
> I am currently learning BSL and have previously learnt Swedish and tentative
> attempts at New Testament Greek, Russian, Portugese and French. My knowledge
> of English grammar is non-existent. I was not taught it formally during my
> "high school" years. What I do know of Engish grammar I have learnt from
> studying Swedish and those other languages. I do know about grammar as I have
> studied formal languages as part of my university courses in computing
> science; why I ever wrote programming language compilers for a living.
> Whilst learning BSL and also when learning Swedish I too was hampered by a
> lack of vocabulary. It is certain possible to communicate with English
> speakers using no more than 2,000 words.
> I fear that we are all ill-served by our education systems. It does not bode
> well for the general adoption of SignWriting in the public schools of either
> of our countries.
> Regards, Trevor
> --
> <>< Re: deemed!

  Replies Author Date
675 Literacy Project Support Valerie Sutton Sat  12/12/1998
785 Talking Hands Award Valerie Sutton Mon  1/4/1999
799 Re: Talking Hands Award Valerie Sutton Tue  1/5/1999
800 Re: Talking Hands Award Valerie Sutton Tue  1/5/1999

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