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									The use of American Sign
  Language (ASL) with:

   School aged children
Why use ASL with hearing babies?


Pat Kuhl, Neuroscientist, stated that we used
to think language began at the one year stage
when kids started producing their first words
and they started to understand words. Now
what we‟re learning is well before the stage at
which babies understand or produce any words
at all, their hearing systems are beginning to be
sculpted by language input (Hochberg, May 1997)
Dr. Joseph Garcia, author of Sign with
your Baby has discovered that babies as
young as 6 months are
able to produce
basic signs such
as „milk‟ or „more‟.
11-month-old signing baby

     To view this video go to:
     Why use ASL,
why not make up your own

There was a recent study which
found that six-month-old hearing
infants exposed to ASL for the first
time prefer it to pantomime lending
new evidence that humans show a
broad preference for languages over
“non-languages”. (Schwarz, 2002)
    When did the use of Sign Language with
        hearing children come about?

   A) 1852
   B) 1952
   C) 1982
   D) 2002

   Answer: 1852
    Short term effects of using
        ASL with infants.

   Reduces frustration

   Promotes parent/child bonding

   Begins to develop confidence
       Long term effects of using
           ASL with infants

   Higher IQ’s when tested at ages 7 & 8

   Increased spelling skills and reading comprehension
   Increased confidence
Can teaching a baby Sign
Language delay speech?

Dr. Marilyn Daniels designed a study
with 16 hearing children who knew
ASL; all but one of the children had
deaf parents. She found they scored
17% higher on the tests she
administered than hearing children
who didn‟t know ASL. Subsequent
research studies with larger groups
have found the same results. (Daniels,
     Why would this be?

   One reason may be that sign language
    increases overall brain activity, stimulating the
    formation of more synapses, or connections,
    among brain cells.

   Studies with PET scans have shown that
    children’s brains process signing both as a
    language, in the left side of the brain, and as
    image and movement, in the right side of the
    brain. This give the child two places to recall
   They are also being exposed to three
    different inputs: visual, observing the
    gesture; audible, hearing the word spoken
    along with the sign; and physical, feeling
    the sign used.

   And, as a growing body of research on
    early brain development shows, the more
    stimulation a child is exposed to at an early
    age, the more intelligent he or she is likely
    to be.
13-month-old signing baby.

       To view this video go to:
 Why would the use of ASL increase
vocabulary and language development?

   One reason for higher IQ’s could be that signing babies
    communicate about complex things earlier, helping them
    build the circuitry of their brains.

   A child who signs can elicit more communication and
    responses from adults and older children around him;
    providing him with a language-rich learning environment
    that allows him to develop a large vocabulary.
Use of ASL with

Research has demonstrated repeatedly that children
retain what they learn through fun, playful activities
that encourage the use of multiple intelligences:

1.   Physical learning (movement)
2.   Visual learning (seeing)
3.   Verbal learning (speaking or listening)
4.   Musical learning (music or rhymes)
5.   Mathematical learning (reasoning)
6.   Interpersonal learning (with other people)
7.   Intrapersonal learning (individual learning)
Laura Bush has stated that, “The years
between diapers and the first backpacks
will determine whether a child will succeed
in school and make it to college.”

Hillary Rodham Clinton asked physicians to
suggest parents read to their young children,
and she called for greater investment in
children aged zero to three.
Penelope Leach states that “The more language they (children) have,
the faster thinking will progress. But the more thinking they are
doing, the more language they will use. So language and thought
even language and intelligence, are intimately entangled.”

Research shows when signing is added to the
preschool curriculum, children not only find
signing fun but also show a significant
improvement in receptive English vocabulary
and retain information for a longer period of
time. Marilyn Daniels found that the significant
vocabulary gains made in their pre-kindergarten years
are sustained through their kindergarten year and
remain with them. There is no memory decay over time.
(Daniels 40-49)
2-year-old signing toddler.

         To view this video go to:

   Using ASL in
Elementary School
Confucius, over 2000 years ago said:

      If you tell me…I will forget;

   If you show me…I may remember;

  If you involve me…I will understand.
Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, developer of
American Sign Language, saw that hearing
children‟s language development increased
from the use of sign. This led him to
believe that “the more varied the form under
which language is presented to the mind through
various senses, the more perfect will be the
knowledge of it acquired, and the more permanently
will it be retained.”
During the early years of the educational
process one of the most important skills, if
not the most important skill, children are
required to learn is reading. ASL has been
shown to be beneficial in helping children
in the first years of elementary school to
learn and remember many of the skills
necessary to become great readers.
    Teague, Teague, and Wilson conducted a study with seven
    regular first grade students who were having difficulty
    learning to spell.

   At the time the students were selected, they spelled only
    25% to 46% of their words correctly on spelling tests.

   When the students used both fingerspelling and sign
    language to learn their spelling words, their spelling test
    scores improved to a range of 56% to 90% words spelled

   The students’ retention of the spelling words at the end of
    the study ranged from 60%-90% words spelled correctly.
Jerry Johns, president-elect of the
International Reading Association,
says that use of ASL in classrooms has
yet to catch on with mainstream
educators. But, he adds it does utilize
techniques that improve reading
How to incorporate signing in library programs

   Books

   Songs

   Alphabet / Games

   When reading and signing to a baby or toddler, the
    child will frequently be more involved with the

   Most infants are visual learners and associate
    books as fun. When signing with him/her it
    becomes a game.

   An early introduction of sign language through
    books establishes the joy of reading in a child’s life.

   Children love putting actions to songs, why not use
    signs from a real language as opposed to made up

   You can teach specific words and signs and then
    use them in a song; these can be based in themes.
    Alphabet / Games

   Children have an easier time learning their alphabet when
    movement and muscle memory is involved in their learning.

   You can teach songs with letters in them and have the
    children sign the letters. eg. E-I-E-I-O
   You can play a game with
    them having one child
    fingerspell a simple word
    and then having the other
    children guess the word.
    This is a fun way to
    practice spelling skills.                    The letter: F
  Hopefully, parents, daycare workers,
librarians and teachers will soon realize
the value of incorporating sign language
          into their daily lives!
    Important websites:

My Smart Hands, ‘educating young minds’

Mind Bites (videos on how to sign words and
  songs, go to the parenting & kids section)

Babies and Sign Language
    Recommended Readings:

   Daniels, Marilyn, (2001) Dancing With
    Words, Signing for Hearing Children's
    Literacy, Bergin & Garvey, Westport, CT.

   Garcia, Dr. Joseph (2005) Sign with your
    Baby, Northlight Communications, Inc.
    Seattle, WA

   Blackburn, D., Vonvillian, J., and Ashby, R. (January 1984).
    Manual Communication as an Alternative Mode of Language
    Instruction for Children with Severe Reading Disabilities.
    Language, Speech and Hearing Services in Schools,15, 22-
   Bonvillian, J., Cate, S., Weber, W., and Folven, R. (Fall 1988).
    Early Letter Recognition, Letter Naming and Reading Skills in
    a Signing and Speaking Child. Sign Language Studies, 271-
   Carney, J., Cioffi, G., and Raymond, W. (Spring 1985). Using
    Sign Language For Teaching Sight Words. Teaching
    Exceptional Children. 214-217.
   Christensen, K. (1984) Reading Sign Language - Use of a
    Visual-Gestural Mode to Supplement Reading Acquisition.
    Claremont Reading Conference Yearbook. 228-231.
   Daniels, M. (1996). Seeing Language: The Effect Over Time of Sign
    Language on Vocabulary Development in Early Childhood Education.
    Child Study Journal, 26, 193-208.
   Felzer, L. (1998). A Multisensory Reading Program That Really
    Works. Teaching and Change, 5, 169-183.
   Good. L.; Feekes, J.; Shawd, B. (1993/94). Let Your Fingers Do The
    Talking, Hands-on Language Learning Through Signing. Childhood
    Education, 81-83.
   Hafer, J. (1986). Signing For Reading Success. Washington D.C.:
    Clerc Books, Gallaudet University Press.
   Hochberg, Lee (1997). Child’s Play.
   Koehler, L., and Loyd, L. (September 1986). Using
    Fingerspelling/Manual Signs to Facilitate Reading and Spelling.
    Biennial Conference of the International Society for Augmentative and
    Alternative Communication. (4'th Cardiff Wales).
   Schwarz, Joel (2002). Hearing infants show preference for sign
    language over pantomime.
   Wilson, R., Teague, J., and Teague, M. (1985). The Use of Signing
    and Fingerspelling to Improve Spelling Performance with Hearing
    Children. Reading Psychology, 4, 267-273.

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