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Academic language in early childhood : what we can learn from Deaf parents' academic ASL use with their young Deaf children across home settings Finley, Alayna


Children are first socialized in the language of school before even setting foot in a school. This socialization happens at home, with parents acting as a child’s first and most crucial language model. What does this mean for very young deaf children who have varied access to language in their home environment? Parental language competency, motivation, and access to resources available will shape the quality of language access. This research study examined features of parental academic language use in deaf parent and deaf child home interactions. One family was recruited for the study and the researcher visited the family five times over a period of one week. Selected family interactions were videotaped and the parents had a discussion with the researcher based on interview questions about these taped interactions. Analyses focused on parental language complexity (academic language, vocabulary, sentence types, American Sign Language [ASL] to English linking strategies, etc.) in interactions with their deaf children in their home setting. Strong evidence of parental use of extended discourse and academic language with young deaf children was found, particularly at the dinner table. Academic language modelling and higher-level facilitative language techniques by a more knowledgeable other can perhaps be taught within the context of early intervention, preparing deaf children for the world of language learning at school.

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