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Language Acquisition: Deaf Children

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Olivia Windmill

on 16 March 2014

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Transcript of Language Acquisition: Deaf Children

Language Acquisition
in Deaf Children

Deaf Children in the UK...
NDCS - National Deaf Children's Society 2014

age 1;2
age 2;0
Matthew 3;0 helps to teach Noah age 1;5 to sign
Over 45,000 deaf children living in the UK

4 babies born deaf everyday in the UK

Families struggle with communication with their deaf child

Deaf children may develop language at a slower pace than their hearing peers

Deafness is not a learning disability
Age of Onset of Deafness...
Prenatal Deafness:
The deafness is acquired or genetically inherited before birth.

Pre-Lingual Deafness:
Child becomes deaf before spoken language is acquired.

Post-Lingual Deafness:
Child becomes deaf after spoken language has been acquired.

Sign Language
“British Sign Language or (BSL) is the primary language of the Deaf Community in Britain […] This rich and complex language is visual, gestural and spatial. By it’s very nature it is able to convey information in a way that is particularly appropriate to this medium, and quite different from spoken language.” (Smith 1990: 11)
Child Directed Communication
Pitch and intonation of child directed speech is essentially irrelevant.

There are a number of ways in which parents can communicate with their children to aid language development.

Whether the child's parents are also deaf or not can effect the child directed communication.
Home Sign
Rudimentary and Idiosyncratic systems of gestures.

Individual method of communication.

Basic principles of Sign Language

Characterised by structural properties which are typical of natural languages.

Nicaraguan Deaf Children
Studied by Goldin-Meadow and Mylander in 1998 and Senghas et.al in 2004.

Children created a grammatical system spontaneously.

Structured the language at both the levels of words and sentences.

Had linguistic input from Spanish speakers and lip-reading

Provides proof for the change from a gesture system to a full grammatical language.
NSL : Nicaraguan Sign Language
Oral Language Development
While hearing children follow a regular course of development of babbling during the first twelve months, oral babbling for deaf children may continue for at least six years (Locke: 1983)
Oral Language Development...
It is extremely difficult for deaf children with profound hearing losses to acquire spoken language. If these children are exposed to sign language, they learn that language as naturally and effortlessly as hearing children learn spoken language (Lillo-Martin: 1999 and Newport & Meier: 1985)

Slower attainment of canonical babbling

ASL users demonstrate onset and development of manual babbling.

Manual and vocal babbling could reflect rhythmically organized motor developments.
Hearing Children: Language Developments
Hearing children produce their first words at 11-14 months

Can produce between 10 - 50 words at 15 - 19 months

Combine words at 18-22 months

Petitto claims milestones are identical in signing and speaking children.
Petitto & Marentette (1991)
Experimental and naturalistic data collected
5 infants, videotaped at 3 ages
2 infants were deaf, with deaf parents using ASL
Both the deaf and hearing children had their manual activities analysed in an identical manner
Hearing and Deaf children produce similar types and quantities of gestures.
However they differed in their production of manual babbling.
The two deaf infants in the study showed to produce their first signs around the same ages of the hearing children's first words.
Deaf infants have limited production of syllabic vocal babbling.
"Babbling is thus the mechanism by which infants discover the map between the structure of language and the means for producing this structure."
Spoken language is more difficult for a deaf child to acquire

Meier and Newport (1990) suggest that it takes longer for speaking children to develop sufficient articulatory control to produce utterances which can be recognised as words than for signing children to develop comparable control. Therefore, there is a disadvantage for spoken language at the earliest stages of lexical development.
Baker, A. & Woll, B. (2009) Sign Language Acquisition. John Benjamins Publishing.
Goldin-Meadow, S. (2003) The Resilience of Language: What Gesture creation in Deaf Children can tell us about how all children learnlanguage. New York: Pyschology Press
Goldin-Meadow, S. & Mylander, C. (1998) Spontaneous Sign Systems Created by Deaf Children in Two Cultures. Nature, 391, pp. 279-281
Lewis, V. (2003) Development and Disability. 2nd edition. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.
Lust, B. (2006) Child Language: Acquisition and Growth. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Marschark, M. Schick, B. & Spencer, P.E. (eds) (2006) Advances in the Sign Language Development of Deaf Children. Oxford: Oxford University Press
National Deaf Children’s Society. [Accessed 1 March 2014]. Available at: www.ndcs.org.uk/about_us/ndcs
Petitto, L.A. & Marentette, P.F. (1991) Babbling in the Manual Mode: Evidence for the Ontogeny of Language. Science, New Series, 251 (5000) pp.1493-1496.
Saxton, M. (2010) Child Language: Acquisition and Development. London: Sage Pubishing LTD
Saxton, M. (2009) The Inevitability of Child Directed Speech. In: S, Foster-Cohen (ed.) Language Acquisition. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, pp.62-86.
Smith, C. (1990) Signs Make Sense: A guide to British Sign Language. London: Souvenir Press

Any Questions?
manual babbling
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