Thursday, April 15, 2010

ESOL/Bilingual Programs Don’t Apply to ASL/Spoken English Students at Public Schools

-written by Anonymous Deaf mother of Deaf ASL CI User

I just visited a public school in our neighborhood to consider enrolling my son for Kindergarten next fall and my son's current speech therapist joined us for the visit to provide support. We met with the school’s speech therapist and she was very excited to work with my son who has a CI as she has never worked with one but has heard a lot about CI. She usually works with hearing children who have language delays, some of them due to learning disabilities or autism but not with bilingual students who participate in ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) program.

My son is still learning to improve his English grammar because he is fluent in ASL at home with his Deaf parents. So, we consider him being bilingual in ASL and spoken English and it may take him a little longer to become completely proficient in both languages like many other bilingual children (Spanish-English, Chinese-English, etc). Our speech therapist told us that the ESOL/Bilingual program doesn’t apply to my son but he would still need speech therapy although he doesn’t have significant delay in spoken language. Is it because ASL isn’t considered a language in their school system? That sort of bothers me.

There are so many bilingual children at the school that need ESOL/Bilingual services and they don’t include ASL users. I also have heard that some of KODAs (hearing Kids of Deaf Adults) are delayed in English at an early age since they use ASL at home as their first language and I think that the ESOL may be beneficial for them, too. Should we request for an ASL/English specialist to participate in those programs for deaf/hard of hearing children and KODAs at public schools? Does ESOL only apply to spoken foreign languages but not ASL because it is a visual language? The philosophy at their school system is as follows.

The goal of the ESOL program is to help the English Language Learners (ELLs) enrolled in the ESOL program to learn enough English to function linguistically and culturally in the County Public Schools and in the mainstream of American society. The education of the ELLs is a collaborative responsibility shared by the ESOL teacher, the classroom teacher, all other appropriate school staff, as well as the ELL student.

Anonymous Author


K.L. said...

I have no idea why they don't consider ESOL for ASL primary language kids. However, since he has an IEP, you should be able to sneak in similar goals that the ESOL program has.

Anonymous said...

The only defensible reason I can think of is that school systems are basing the learning of a second spoken/written language off the learning of a first spoken/written language in ELL programs. There's no reason to treat people who are fluent in ASL and learning English as automatically disordered.

Alexandre Souza said...

HI ! A hello from brazil.

kim said...

It sounds like a case of discrimination to me.

Kimberly said...

I totally agree with all these comments. ASL is a language. It is different from other languages in that there is no spoken form, but it is a recognized language. Schools need to wake up and realize this is 2010! ESOL should include ASL!

marion said...

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kelsign31 said...

I use Spoken English and ASL in my hearing school till 6th grade and right now i am in deaf school for two years soo next year i going to other deaf school. Well Hearing school have hard time to learn a ESL first then ASL second. Soo I know about compare of Deaf and Hearing world.