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Typical and atypical sign language learners

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Abstract

Instructors of foreign languages in secondary and higher education often encounter diversity in learning abilities among their learners. Setting aside motivation and other academic factors, what makes one learner better at L1 or L2/Ln learning over another? Might some learners have a stronger aptitude for a signed language over a spoken language? And, how do we know how an atypical L1 or L2/Ln learner will fare in the classroom? These are interesting issues for the L1 and L2/Ln instructors as they consider adapting their instruction or activities for the range of skills and capacities within their class. In this chapter, we focus on adolescent and adult learners of signed language, exploring situations of learner diversity or atypicality and how those differences impact signed language learning in both the L1 and L2/Ln contexts...

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Chapter
Language is the means of human access to the world. Languages have the virtue of opening up alternative ways of thinking and understanding the place people inhabit, relating to it, expanding it and modifying it. As a possibility of communication, languages open up opportunities to relate to other people, to get closer to them and to develop a broader understanding of the social and the human elements [1]. This research presents a visual tool designed to allow the learning of multiple words that are part of Spanish Sign Language (SSL) through an anthropomorphic model that is completely manipulable and programmable.
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The present study aimed to identify predictors of one aspect of sign language acquisition, sign learning, in hearing nonsigners. Candidate predictors were selected based on the theory that the observed relationship between phonological short-term memory and L2 lexical learning is due in part to common perceptual-motor processes. Hearing nonsigning adults completed a sign learning task, three assessments of short-term memory for movements (movement STM; two of which used sign-like stimuli), and two visuospatial STM tasks. The final sample included 103 adults, ranging between 18 and 33 years of age. All predictors were moderately to strongly correlated with the sign learning task and to each other. A series of regression analyses revealed that both movement and visuospatial STM uniquely contributed to the prediction of sign learning. These results suggest that perceptual-motor processes play a significant role in sign learning and raise questions about the role of phonological processing.
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Book
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Chapter
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Article
This study analyzed phonological short-term memory (PSTM) and working memory (WM) and their relationship with vocabulary and grammar learning in an artificial foreign language. Nonword repetition, nonword recognition, and listening span were used as memory measures. Participants learned the singular forms of vocabulary for an artificial foreign language before being exposed to plural forms in sentence contexts. Participants were tested on their ability to induce the grammatical forms and to generalize the forms to novel utterances. Individual differences in final abilities in vocabulary and grammar correlated between 0.44 and 0.76, depending on the measure. Despite these strong associations, the results demonstrated significant independent effects of PSTM and WM on L2 vocabulary learning and on L2 grammar learning, some of which were mediated by vocabulary and some of which were direct effects.
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As increasing numbers of colleges and universities require a foreign language for graduation in at least one of their degree programs, reports of students with difficulties in learning a second language are multiplying. Until recently, little research has been conducted to identify the nature of this problem. Recent attempts by the authors have focused upon subtle but ongoing language difficulties in these individuals as the source of their struggle to learn a foreign language. The present paper attempts to expand upon this concept by outlining a theoretical framework based upon a linguistic coding model that hypothesizes deficits in the processing of phonological, syntactic, and/or semantic information. Traditional psychoeducational assessment batteries of standardized intelligence and achievement tests generally are not sensitive to these linguistic coding deficits unless closely analyzed or, more often, used in conjunction with a more comprehensive language assessment battery. Students who have been waived from a foreign language requirement and their proposed type(s) of linguistic coding deficits are profiled. Tentative conclusions about the nature of these foreign language learning deficits are presented along with specific suggestions for tests to be used in psychoeducational evaluations.
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Article
The abstract for this document is available on CSA Illumina.To view the Abstract, click the Abstract button above the document title.
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We explore the predictors of early mastery versus error in children's acquisition of American Sign Language. We hypothesize that the most frequent values for a particular parameter in prelinguistic gesture will be the most frequent in early signs and the most likely sources of substitution when signing children make errors. Analyses of data from a longitudinal study of the prelinguistic gestures of five Deaf and five hearing children and a longitudinal study of four Deaf children's early signs have revealed evidence of significant commonalities between prelinguistic gesture and early sign. This apparent continuity between prelinguistic gesture and early sign reflects constraints operating on the infant - in all likelihood, motoric constraints - that seem to persist into the first-word period in both major language modalities. In sign, as in speech, the production of first signs uses building blocks that are available to the prelinguistic child.
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Reviews the state of knowledge in 4 categories of individual differences in aptitude for learning—cognitive abilities, achievement motivation, vocational and academic interests, and creativity. Specific topics addressed include the taxonomy of intelligence, need for achievement, evaluation anxiety, and information-processing analyses. Ways are examined in which research on individual differences has led or can lead to improvements in various educational functions, including guidance counseling, student selection and advanced placement, design of adaptive instructional systems and teaching strategies, evaluation of educational practices, and the tracking of national human resources. Education is viewed as an aptitude development program in which adaptations that are responsive to individual differences will help provide both equality and optimal diversity of educational opportunity. (88 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
briefly describe the structure of the language / [reviews] the literature on the acquisition of ASL [American Sign Language] descriptive sketch of American Sign Language / overall course of development / children cognitive pacesetting of language development / linguistic pacesetting of cognitive development / suggestions for further study / input and adult-child interaction / individual and group differences iconicity / phonology / morphology / syntax (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
This report on 2 studies of factors involved in learning French is based on 23 tests administered to 208 students in college French, and on 22 tests administered to 202 additional students a year later. The factors extracted and rotated in each study included: Verbal, Reasoning, Speed of Articulation, Pitch Discrimination, Timbre Discrimination, Interest, and Biographic. Multiple correlation test selection analyses resulted in (a) R=.65, using 6 tests to predict Cooperative French Test scores; and (b) R=.41, using 5 tests to predict aural comprehension; and (c) R=.41, using 5 tests to predict speaking proficiency. Verbal IQ and Interest (motivation) appear to be the most important factors in college foreign language learning; Reasoning, Word Fluency, and Pitch Discrimination also contribute. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Designed to predict success in learning a foreign language. The complete taped test requires 60-70 minutes, while the paper-and-pencil Short Form takes 30 minutes. The manual provides directions for administration and scoring, percentile norms by sex for various grades and 3 adult groups, odd-even reliability coefficients, over 60 validity correlations with performance in a wide variety of language courses. [Group, grade 9—adult. 1 form. Tape recording ($7.50); test booklets ($3.50 for 25); answer sheets ($3.60 for 50); scoring stencils ($.50); specimen set ($.75); manual.] (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
American Sign Language (ASL) has become a very popular language in high schools, colleges, and universities throughout the U.S., due, in part, to the growing number of schools that allow students to take the language in order to fulfill a foreign or general language requirement. Within the past couple decades, the number of students enrolled in ASL classes has increased dramatically, and there are likely more instructors of ASL at the present time than ever before. ASL and spoken language instruction are similar in some aspects; however, there are also differences between the two (e.g., modality differences involving visual rather than auditory perception and processing, no commonly used writing system in ASL, and the socio-cultural history of deaf-hearing relations). In spite of these differences, minimal research has been done on ASL learning and classroom pedagogy—especially in recent years. This article reports on studies that have been performed recently and it also suggests various themes for future research. In particular, three main areas of research are proposed: the possible role of the socio-political history of the Deaf community in which ASL teaching is situated, linguistic differences between signed and spoken languages, and the use of video and computer-based technologies.
Article
An unusual facet of American Sign Language (ASL) is its use of grammaticized facial expression. In this study, we examine the acquisition of conditional sentences in ASL by 14 deaf children (ages 3;3–8;4) of deaf parents. Conditional sentences were chosen because they entail the use of both manual signs and grammaticized non-manual facial expressions. The results indicate that the children first acquire manual conditional signs, e.g., SUPPOSE, before they use the obligatory grammaticized conditional facial expression. Moreover, the children acquire the constellation of obligatory non-manual behaviors component by component, rather than holistically.