Thursday, July 24, 2008

ASL Enhances Spoken English Acquisition

My 2 yrs old child is proof that American Sign Language (ASL) does help her acquire spoken language more quickly with a cochlear implant (CI) than most children without ASL who received the CI at the same age, according to her therapists. My child was just assessed in spoken language after one year of using CI and made a huge jump in spoken language, over 2 years progress in only one year! She is delayed only a few months in expressive and receptive spoken language and is closing the gap. She transferred her age appropriate ASL to her new language, spoken English after her CI was first activated. She has been exposed to ASL since her birth and she is fluent in ASL. My child is in an early stage of her CI journey and time will only tell how well she would do in spoken language as she gets older.*

herefore, ASL does not interfere with spoken English development but contributes significantly to a deaf child’s rapid acquisition of spoken English after receiving a CI at a young age before 2 or 3. It is also important to keep both languages separate like any other foreign languages. My child uses ASL at home with her deaf parents. My child has been learning spoken English at a regular school with typical hearing children with support services from therapists and deaf educators. Also, my child’s problem solving and fine motor skills were assessed at nearly 4 years old. It is possible that bilingualism in ASL and spoken English contributes to her advanced cognitive and fine motor developments. My child is even more advanced in many developmental areas than her hearing peers according to her teachers.

SL would be a huge benefit for both deaf children and hearing children at young ages. As the research shows, bilingualism in ASL and spoken English at an early age increases cognitive skills and intelligence. Many CODA (hearing children of Deaf adults) are also the proof of that.

Read the answer to
“Does ASL interfere with spoken English?”

*Results may vary in other children with CIs

Written by Anonymous deaf parent of deaf child with a CI

Photo credit from MSNBC.MSN.COM.


cnkatz said...

. . . this is the harbinger of things to come . . .

thank u for posting

Der Sankt said...

That is amazing! Excellent posting as well.

Thank you for sharing this with the rest of us!



Anonymous said...

While this is nice news about your child, you really can't generalize to all deaf children with CIs. This is no different than back in the old days when they would take the star oral kids -- and there WERE kids who did exceptionally well with speech and lipreading -- and trot them out to "prove" that oral education works. Much more research needs to be done before you can make statements like "therefore aSL does not interfere with spoken English development but contributes significantly to a deaf child's rapid acquisition..."

Anonymous said...

Hmmm... my 2 year old is fully age appropriate, has a CI, and has never used ASL. And he's now ahead, expressively and receptively. How is your "study of one" proof, again? We're all finished with therapy, now. Done. You don't prove a theory such as this with one child. Your child may be forging ahead, but they aren't necessarily ahead due to ASL, and I would actually argue that they could be further behind. And I would have data, research with hundreds of children, to support me.

Deb Ann said...

Thank you sooo much for sharing this with everyone! *hand waving*

Anne Marie said...

Wow, that is great. Maybe if you can, try to show your child's language evaluation report like what I saw on Li-Li mother's blog, that will be awesome. We like to see how your child's two language skills were evaluated because I am familiar with some test tools for "sign language" development.

nacpac said...

My child's story is comparable to yours.

He learned ASL/CASE before he got his implant and he has age appropriate ASL and English skills. He also has spoken English/listening ability, which I view as a bonus.

With sign language knowledge, my son can utilize an interpreter in the classroom when needed. He is the kind of kid who would complain if he misses information.

Involved parents and language planning in the school play a big role in the child's success as a bilingual (spoken, signed, and written modes).

Thanks for the article. We need more stories like this one.

Dianrez said...

Thanks for sharing! This is something that doesn't surprise many Deaf people, as it is something they have intuitively known all along.

Certainly parent involvement has been key, combined with the totality of your child's input. Good job!

Shel said...


What is CASE? Would you explain this, please?


K.L. said...

While we started with SEE, and TC, we had similar results with our daughter, and she is still way ahead in verbal language. I really do believe that the early sign language gets the child's brain prepared for language, and transitioning from sign to verbal is pretty easy for them.

Bright Family said...

My son was indentified late and we starting teaching him sign language at 18 months. He was bilaterally implanted at two and we continue to learn sign at a slow pace. I honestly believe that he wouldn't be as successful with his oral language if he hadn't had ASL.

nacpac said...


CASE stands for Conceptually Accurate Signed English.

The use of ASL vocabulary in English word order.

A lot of SEE signed vocabulary is invented and not natural looking. Usually the hearing teachers are the ones who use SEE voabulary, not the deaf/hoh children and deaf adults. IMO.

Shel said...


Thank you for the clarification.


Prince Andrew and the Queen Mum said...

interesting...DS is almost 8. 7 yo hearing age. did not sign but well above in language. (speech behind)..- he's has other issues and still did very well w/o ASL - but that said, i have been reading various studies that talk about what you say. On the flip side there are studies that say don't do it... The absolute number one predictor- independent of study- is parent involvement. hmmm.... can't really break that out in a study kwim? the key is figuring out the learning styles of your children (assuming you go w/ a CI) and work from there...and no matter what you do- be involved as a parent in all aspects of your child's education..

Anonymous said...

I think that it is fabulous that your child is doing well!

I have not read the details of your family. Having said thus, I can only comment on this blogpost.

ASL and spoken language are completely different. Pressuming that you yourself and other family members are accurate, fluent role models of the language ASL, signing ASL to your daughter from the beginning, then kudos to you for providing her language. Becoming fluent and accurate in the language of ASL is a difficult skill to acquire task. IME, families struggle with this foreign language and generally provide PSE of sign supported speech. Meaning spoken English, with some ASL sign in "dropped into" the spoken English sentence. Understand I am not judging you or families using this approach, I am simply stating the facts.

Unless you have had the opportunity to fMRI your child, you cannot definitively state that ASL enhanced spoken language acquisition. Speech and ASL are processed differently in the brain.

Using ASL with her is definatley provides her with a visual cue and undoubtedly she will link the "visual" with the spoken "sound" IE: seeing you sign "yes"and saying "yes".

Deaf/hoh children are amazing, resilient little people. They will recieve and process information in whatever manner they are provided.

Bottom line though English is spoken language, based on sound, ASL is viusal and based on concepts.


Aleda said...

Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful article! I am very happy for you and your child, thank you for posting

To those of you who complain that there is a lack of appropriate "proof" to the article I will fill in that gap...ASL is neurologically organized in the brain the same as spoken language, it dominates the right cerebral hemisphere of the brain, even though it is a visual form of communication.

There is a limited window of opportunity for children to develop strong language skills, every month that goes by without early language exposure increases the risk of underdeveloped cognitive mental states (which can affect academic performance, social interactions, etc.). Many studies have shown that ASL develops at the same quantiative and chronological rate as spoken language.

The longer a child goes without exercising the part of the brain designated to language function, the less proficiency they will acquire when they finally are exposed to a language. It is true that not all children with CI's who have not been exposed to ASL will suffer these consequences (it all depends on the time the CI is implanted, effectiveness of CI, rate at which mapping is successful, etc.), but ASL does not hinder the development of spoken language (Neil Gordon, Brain and Development, 2003).

Anonymous said...

Whoops, sorry, I typed "right cerebral hemisphere", I meant the left. The right hemisphere organizes visual-spatial tasks, which is what was origanlly thought to be where sign language function dominated. Research has shown that sign lnaguage dominates the left cerebral hemisphere, like spoken language.

Speech Language Pathologist said...

Hmmm... To the anonymous poster who commented that ASL and spoken languages are processed differently in the brain, you are mistaken. Both are processed in the left hemisphere of the brain. Peer-reviewed literature on the topic is plentiful, but you can also read Oliver Sacks' "Seeing Voices," which scratches the surface of this topic.

I recently read an interesting journal article describing how Broca's area of the brain, responsible for programming speech movements, is activated when deaf individuals sign. It appears that language is language when it comes to cerebral processing.

way2 college said...

NICE BLOG!!! Your blog is very informative for us. I would really like to come back again right here for likewise good articles or blog posts. Thanks for sharing a nice information.
burdwan university distance education