Sign Language Development by Deaf and Hearing Children

Instructor(s): Deborah Chen Pichler, Diane Lillo-Martin and Ronice Müller de Quadros

This course explores sign language development of Deaf children, and bimodal bilingual development (simultaneous acquisition of one signed and one spoken language) of hearing children with Deaf parents (kodas). The course includes lectures and discussion on early grammatical development of ASL and other natural sign languages, then explores crosslinguistic effects that occur when signs and speech are acquired simultaneously. Some of these are typical bilingual effects, while others are unique to bimodal bilingualism. The course also includes hands-on activities involving annotation and analysis of child data using ELAN, a flexible video annotation tool particularly well suited for sign language analysis. Students will receive basic instruction on ELAN, allowing them to use this system for a small group project at the end of the course analyzing pre-selected data. Previous knowledge or research experience in sign language linguistics, child language acquisition and/or bilingualism will be very helpful for this course, but are not required.

None, although previous research experience and/or coursework in the following areas will be very helpful and is strongly suggested: child language acquisition; sign language structure; bilingualism