De-mystifying sign language acquisition and development in deaf children
Keywords:Sign language acquisition, Sign language development, Milestones, Deaf children
Quite often people think that deaf children acquire language differently from their hearing peers. People often wonder whether deaf children go through the same or different language development milestones from their peers. Some people even wonder whether these children develop any language at all because for them sign language is not a formal language after all. It is also not surprising to find even deaf education scholars hesitant about whether deaf children develop sign language in a pre-determined style at all. This paper is intended to demystify these doubts. The paper explores the nature of sign language acquisition and development by comparing with typical oral language processes. Developmental milestones are provided to allay the tension scholars often go through when required to outline, let alone examine stages of language development in deaf children. The conclusion of this paper is that sign language acquisition and development in deaf children is the same as oral language acquisition and development in their hearing peers. This is because sign and not oral language is the native language for the deaf.
Brentari, D., 2013. Handshape in sign language phonology. In van Oostendorp, C., Hume, E., Rice, K. (eds) Companion to Phonology. New York/Oxford: Wiley-Blackwells.
Calderon, R., 2000. Parental involvement in deaf children’s education programs as a predictor of childs language, early reading and social emotional development. J. Deaf Stud. Deaf Educ., 5(2), 140-155.
Calderon, R., Greenberg, M.T., 2000. Challenges to parents and professionals in promoting socio-emotional development in deaf children. In Spencer, P.E., Ertings, C.J., Marschark, M. (eds). The deaf Child in the Family and at School. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Chomsky, N.C., 1986. Knowledge of language. New York: Praeger.
Deaf Children Australia, 2012. Language development and deaf children. www.deafchildrenaustralia.org.au.
Disckson, D., Tabors, P., 2001. Beginning literacy with language. Baltimore: Brooks Publishing Co.
Enns, C., Price, L., 2013. Family involvement in ASL acquisition. Vis. Lang. Vis. Learn., 9, 1-8.
Gatherscole, S., Baddeley, A., 1990. Phonological memory deficits in language-disordered children: Is there are causal connection? J. Mem. Lang., (29), 336-360.
Harris, M., 2010. Early communication in sign and speech. In Marshark, Spencer, P.E. (Eds). Oxford Handbook of Deaf Studies, Language and Education. New York: Oxford.
Humphries, T., Kushalnagar, P., Mathur, G., Jo Napoli, C., Padden, C., Rathman, C., 2014. Ensuring language acquisition for deaf children: What linguists can do. Lang. Publ. Pol., 90(2), e31-e52.
Humphries, T., Kushalnagar, P., Mathur, G., Jo Napoli, D., Padekn, C., Rathmann, C., Smith, S.R., 2012. Language acquisition for deaf children: Reducing the harms of zero tolerance to the use of alternative approaches. Harm Reduct. J., 9(16), 1-9.
Lenneberg, E.H., 1967. Biological foundations of language. New York: Wiley.
Mason, K., Rowley, K., Marshall, C.R., Atkinson, J.R., Herman, R., Woll, B., Morgan, G., 2010. Identifying specific language impairment in deaf children acquiring British sign language: Implications for theory and practice. Br. J. Dev. Psychol., 28, 33-49.
Mayberry, R.I., Squires, B., 2006. Sign language acquisition. In Kieven, E. (Ed). Language Acquisition Volume 11: Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics (2nd Ed.). Oxford: Elsevier.
Newport, E.L., 1990. Maturational constraints on language learning. Cogn. Sci., 14, 11-28.
Nodoushan, M.A.S., 2008. Language and literacy development in pre-lingually deaf children. I-Manag. J. Educ. Psychol., 2(2), 16-20.
Sandler, W., Lillo-Martin, D., 2001. Natural sign languages. In Aronnoff, M., Rees-Miller, J. (Eds) Handbook of Linguistics. MA: Blackwell Publishers.
Stokoe, W.C., 1960. Sign language structure. Silver Spring: Linstok Press.
Tallal, P., 2003. Language and learning disabilities: Integrating research approaches. Curr. Direct. Psychol. Sci., (12), 206-211.
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2020 Patrick Sibanda
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.