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SW-L  December 2013

SW-L December 2013

Subject:

Re: Teaching Signwriting to deaf children in Tunisia

From:

James Shepard-Kegl <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

SignWriting List: Read and Write Sign Languages

Date:

Thu, 19 Dec 2013 03:53:37 +0000

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text/plain

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Warning:  Those who know me personally have long accepted that I am a grumpy old person.  The rest just have to learn to bear with me.

1)  Please assume that Deaf brains work just like hearing brains.  Don't assume that Deaf children have superior brain capabilities and therefore can achieve things you would never expect from a hearing child.

2)  SignWriting is a written code for sign language (any sign language).  If you would not use written Chinese to help a hearing child to learn to speak French, then don't use a written signed language to help a Deaf child learn to speak French, either.

3)  Hearing children learn to speak their primary language before they learn to read their primary language.  Deaf children should be able to sign their primary signed language before they are taught to read it.

4)  Four months!   We spend more than that teaching kids (natively fluent hearing kids) to memorize an alphabet.  During that time, the teacher is always reading to them without the slightest expectation that a child will read anything back.  Any kid who is able to read a book (any book) after four months of Kindergarten is regarded as a genius.

5)  Little hearing children are NOT taught to read mere lists of words.  How very boring!  Little children are read to.  Then, they learn to read simple stories.  Stories become more complex over time.  I respectfully suggest that you pretend that your Deaf students have hearing brains.  (I would bet that they actually do!)  Read to them!  That is, read SignWriting stories to them.  Haven't got any????  Produce some.  Produce enough so that a Deaf child is motivated to learn to read in the first place.  (Most educators become immediately discouraged when someone suggests that they take the time to produce educational materials.  Of course, it helps when the teacher can actually sign and respects the complexity of the signed language.  Conversely, it does not help at all when the teacher or the school administration regards signing as nothing more than a tool to spoken language and not as a bona fide language -- and therefore, a bona fide end goal -- in itself.  But wait -- you point out that it would take you more than four months to produce such material??  Well, that is surely true.  Every journey begins with the first step.  Enjoy your trip.)

6)  Measure the success of your program by how well the child reads his native signed language, and leave success in crossing over to some other person's language out of it!  There IS a place for that, but not in the first four months!

-- James
> 
> Hello everyone!One of my students is preparing her Graduation Project, and she chose to write about teaching signwriting to deaf children in Tunisia.She will be teaching children who are 6,7 and 8 years oat will be for 4 months, after that we will check the results and how signwriting does help children:1/ Memorize Sign Language, 2/ Learn Arabic and French (our official languages), and also English later on.3/ Embetter sound recognition.4/ Make them express themselves using their mother tongue.Etc....This is very important to my student, she was very courageous to work on such a project, but I have no idea how we can work that out, neither the materials we can use in this deaf school for
 teaching.Does anyone have an idea how to start, and what kind of materials I can make....If this small project is well made and if it could bear fruits, many other deaf schools will be happy to ask us to teach SW in all over the country!Please I need every single advice from you!!!Blessings
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Valerie Sutton
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> SIGNWRITING LIST INFORMATION
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> Valerie Sutton
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SIGNWRITING LIST INFORMATION

Valerie Sutton
SignWriting List moderator
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