ePortfolio Natalie Altamirano

Myths and Assumptions

Myth #1: Communication and Language are the same thing..

Communication contains two individuals, minimum. The sender as well as the receiver or the decoder. This basic form is accessible to all living things. Nonetheless, it is the most basic form of understanding and therefore, delivers the most limited understanding. However, Language contains a system of arbitrary symbols that is part of a conventional way of communication. It allows for the most understanding and is found in higher order animals (such as humans).

Myth #2: Spoken languages are verbal while signed languages are non-verbal.

Verbal implies that the meaning is delivered with words whereas non-verbal implies that the meaning is delivered without the use of words. If we look at these specific definition we know clarify that signed languages are in fact words. Therefore they are expressing their meanings with words making it a verbal language. Nonetheless, the stress and facial expressions that accompany both, spoken and signed languages, are identified as non-verbal.

Myth #3: People who sign do "the hand thing"

In this specific myth, "the hand thing" is referring to gestures. However, gestures are very far from a signed language. Gestures hold no true word meaning rather they are movements used to express concrete idea. All individuals can do gestures. However, sign language has grammatical rules and a structure. All individuals can not do sign language due to needing training and education in the practice of it.

Myth #4: Spoken and signed language are processed in the brain differently.

Both types of languages are used in the same area of the brain. Both utilize the Wernicke's region for receptive language and the Boca's region for productive language.

Sensitive Period of Language Acquisition

The sensitive period can be known as the time when it is critical for children to acquire language. Because hearing children are constantly exposed to language when around family and friends, deaf individuals are already at a disadvantage. It is said that by the age of 6, hearing children will have mastered the English language. Because of this, between the ages of 0-6 it is critical for deaf children to be given an equal amount of exposure to language in order to keep the playing field fair. Given proper exposure and resources, deaf children can maintain academic balance with their hearing counterparts. Nonetheless, if proper exposure is not given within the first 6 years, language development can be significantly damaged in later years.

Cooing, Babbling, One-Word Stage, Two-Word Stage, Multiple Word Stage

Deaf children and Hearing children, at an early age, continue to have equivalent milestones. In fact, it can be seen from the charts before, that deaf children will hit a milestone first, when they begin producing their first sign at around 9-10 compared to hearing babies where they begin to produce their first word at 11-12 months. However, hearing children begin to even the milestones as soon as 24 months comes around. Regardless, it is typically after 24 months that the delays and differences become increasingly significant. Nonetheless, the two charts below show that milestones between hearing and deaf children have the potential to remain the same if nurtured and cherished.

Hearing Children Milestones
Deaf Children Milestones

Intersubjectivity

Language interactions are crucial for children in order to witness, process, and begin to practice their own personal use of language. Intersubjectivity occurs when there is a clear set up of language that will be perform between two parties. Intersubjectivity requires reciprocal responses and an understanding of the intent of the communication. In order to effectively have intersubjectivity with children, the adult must modify their way of communicating. They can do this with many different ways but the most common, and effective, is simplifying the language. This can be referred to as "mothers". Techniques utilized in motherese with deaf children are using a larger signing space, a slower pace of signing, and a simplified language structure.

Joint Attention

Joint attention is performed when an experienced adult and a novice child will communicate while focusing on the same thing in the environment. When discussing joint attention, there are two components to look at. The first one is simultaneous attention is when both parties are hearing and the action of looking at the object and listening can be performed at the same time. The second component is when one or both parties are deaf and attention is performed sequentially. This means that the parties must first look at the object then turn and face each other to have the discussion. This happens because the deaf party can not look at an object and also look at the hands of the signer when communicating.

Natural Approach

The natural approach is a strong believer in the natural ability children have to acquire language. This approach emphasizes that children will in evidently acquire language necessary to communicate simply by daily interactions, exposures at home and at school, and through daily communications with other individuals. This approach is composed of 4 principles. The first principle emphasizes utilizing interactions to develop content, form and use. The second principle discusses how the information about normal language development is the basis for determining which intervention strategies to use with the child. Due to the fact that each child is different, each child will need to utilize different strategies in order for them to succeed to their full potential. The third principle emphasizes how language will, over time, be learned through communication. The academic setting, although can be useful, is not necessary for the building of foundational language because that will occur through communication. Finally, the fourth principle discusses that the ultimate goal is communicative competence.

Structural Approach

Structural approach, completely opposite from natural approach, believes that language modeling needs to occur in the classroom. This belief is actually the first principle of the four principles within structural approach. The second belief discusses how the child must have access to practice frequent sentence patterns in order to understand the targeted forms. The third belief is that structured stimuli must be given in order for the child to perceive language patterns. Finally, the fourth belief is that children must have the opportunity to apply the language and language patterns that they have recently acquired. The structured approach believes that the classroom setting is the ideal location to learn language however, they also firmly believe that the child should not merely witness language but also practice it.

Theories of Reading

There are three components to theory of reading the first of which is know as bottom-up processing which emphasizes the text material. For example, the child will specifically focus on the letters and words of a phrase. Sometimes, however, this leads to children over thinking each component and not being able to see the word as a whole. The next theory is known as top-down processing which emphasizes the role of prior knowledge. This theory recognizes the word as a whole without paying close attention to each component (the letters). Nonetheless, this can cause a problem because the child can skim over the word assuming that they know what it is. However, without close attention, they can miss important components that can change the word entirely. Finally, interactive theory emphasizes that an effective reading experience is a combination of both bottom-up processing and top-down processing. This implying that the reader should see the word as a whole while also paying attention to the detail of each word. The combination of the first two theories is the ideal way of reading.

Figurative Language

Figurative language can often times be a difficult concept for deaf learners to understand. Due to the difficulty, children need to have constant exposure to it. The main age group of exposure to these types of language is typically between the ages of 5 and 13. Nonetheless, there are specific practices that can be performed in order to help children develop these ways of thinking. For a preschool level, the teacher can perform simpler tasks like pointing out a single difference in two objects. For example, giving the child a square and then also a triangle and bringing to their attention that there is an difference. As they grow into primary elementary level, the teacher can begin to slowly incorporate analogies and introduce similes. Finally, as they move into upper primary level they can really dig into developing those concepts and understanding that way of thinking. Similes, analogies, metaphors, and complex forms are all areas that could be developed.

Metalinguistic Awareness

Metalinguistic awareness is essentially the understanding that languages have rules and a structure to them. This idea is specifically important when looking at the structural approach. In the structural approach, children are taught language in a structured educational setting, i.e. a classroom. This setting allows the educator to teach the rules and structures to the language. However, by teaching these rules and structures the children get an idea that language is not merely a bunch of random thoughts, words, and ideas. Rather, language has components that must be followed in order for them to be accurately understood.

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Natalie Altamirano
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