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Main page » Coursebooks » Only for teachers » The Path to Language: Bilingual Education for Deaf Children

The Path to Language: Bilingual Education for Deaf Children


The author uses strong theoretical and practical arguments to show that deaf children can and should acquire languge just as hearing children do, provided they experience the same conditions all children need in order to learn to speak. For deaf children, sign language is the only language that can satisfy all those conditions.


Discussion of speech instruction in bilingual education for deaf children refutes the assumption that speech is acquired automatically by hearing children and examines a program in which deaf children are taught alongside hearing children. The first part looks at how speech functions and how children acquire it: including the nature of the linguistic sign and its occurrence in the speech process; the speaking subject's role in the speech process; the newborn's ability to communicate, pre-verbal and verbal communication; and the mother's role in child language acquisition. In part two, the idea that deaf and hearing children have more similarities than differences is explained, and deaf children's right to a mother tongue is argued. Prejudices against deafness and the relationship of a child's deafness to parent(s)' deafness is discussed. Part three describes a pilot bilingual education program involving five profoundly deaf children and one severely deaf child, aged 4-6, that prepared them with both sign language and verbal communication skills for integration into a school for hearing children. The children's progress is followed through 6 years and the acquisition of written language in the bilingual education program is noted. Appended materials include data on the children, two manual alphabets, and a bibliography.


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Tags: children, language, satisfy, speak, learn