- Current DCAL Newsletter available in BSL
- Special Focus: What is it like to be a postgraduate at DCAL?
- Are you interested in postgraduate study at DCAL?
- Talking about Bilingualism
- BSL Corpus Project goes online
- DCAL's Tales from the Road
- Update on Deaf with Dementia Project
- DCAL working with the Cognitive Disorders Clinic
- Sharing Research - Iconicity and Embodiment on Tour
- Get involved in DCAL's research!
- DCAL research features in Lancet editorial
- BSL Corpus Project featured on The Hub
- BSL Grammaticality Judgement Task Paper accepted for publication in journal Cognition
- Frances Elton gets BDA award in recognition of her contribution to BSL and Sign Linguistics teaching
- New DCAL Briefing Sheet available on Dementia
- Early sign language exposure benefits deaf children
- See Hear Feature Deaf with Dementia Project October 17th
- Outreach activity at Frank Barnes School for Deaf Children
- DCAL's Response to Guardian article "Signs of the times: Deaf community minds its language"
- See Hear item on Deaf with dementia
- New DCAL-associated research project - Describing sociolinguistic variation in verb directionality in British Sign Language: A corpus-based study, funded by ESRC Secondary Data Analysis Initiative
- DCAL responds to Harry Knoors weblog
- New leaflet about research targeted at the older deaf community
- The Association for Physiological Sciences publishes DCAL research in Psychological Science
- Society Now features an article by researcher Dr Joanna Atkinson 'Voices inside my head'
- The Guardian publishes correction about BSL Corpus Project story
- Robert Adam is the first person in the UK to be both a registered Interpreter and a registered Translator on the NRCPD
- New MSc in Language Sciences with specialisation in Sign Language Studies: NOW RECRUITING for 2013/2014
- Researchers in Language and Cognition present their work at a conference in Lisbon
- NDCS offering free two-day training courses to utilise Family Sign Language Toolkit
- Programme for TISLR 2013 available on the webpage NOW!
- Neuroscience: How the brain adapts to deafness
- Professor Adam Kendon to become Honorary Emeritus Professor and DCAL Associate
- New MSc in Language Sciences with specialisation in Sign Language Studies NOW RECRUITING for2013/2014
- BSL Grammaticality Judgement paper ranked in Top 25 Hottest Articles
- DCAL and AoHL call for the National Dementia Strategy for England to be reviewed to ensure that funding is provided to meet the needs of people who are deaf or have hearing loss and also have dementia
- DCAL Nominated for the Signature Organisation of the Year Award
- British Deaf Association honours DCAL researcher
- DCAL director receives prestigious award
- ESRC Future Leader Fellowships for DCAL researchers
- DCAL's advocacy work with UK politicians
- DCAL research on voice hallucinations features in the Lancet
- Deaf Children and Development
- Early sign language exposure benefits deaf children
- Read my lips - Advances in speechreading research with deaf children
- 'What do you think the girl wants from Father Christmas?' Theory of Mind research with deaf infants
- DCAL briefing on the need for specialist national neurology services for deaf people
- DCAL features on See Hear with clip of BSL from 1920s
- New Dates for Sign Linguistics Course for Deaf Professionals
- Frances Elton's Retirement Seminar
- History of BSL Online
- Media Release
- Media Release
- Media Release
- Cochlear Implants and Sign Language:
- Digging into Signs
- Language isn't what it used to be (British Sign Language - that is)
- Discover UCL summer school for D/deaf and hard of hearing students
- New living dictionary for British Sign Language
- Specialist neurological clinic for deaf people cost benefit model
- Media Release: Dementia payments for GPs will do nothing to improve diagnosis rates of deaf patients
Talking about Bilingualism
26 February 2012
the world most children born today will grow up in bilingual or
multi-lingual environments. These children will use two or more
languages regularly. One language might be for home, and another for
school; or parents might have different linguistic backgrounds. In
London and other major cities classrooms are increasingly multilingual.
The internet and TV also offer the opportunity for children to learn
and absorb new languages. In the past it was thought that early
exposure to two languages was confusing for children. But newer
research tells us this is not so, and that there are clear cognitive
and educational advantages to being bilingual, such as more being able
to divide attention between different tasks or understanding the
communicative intent of a speaker.
Festival of Social Science
Wednesday 2 November 2011, DCAL hosted an afternoon event of
presentations and discussion on bilingualism. The event was part of the
Economic and Social Research Council’s (ESRC) annual Festival of Social
Science. The presentations related specifically to bilingualism in
signed and spoken language, but there was also an opportunity for
people to think about bilingualism and culture and education.
DCAL deputy director Professor Gary Morgan from City University London, who introduced the event, describes the context: “Deaf children learning English and BSL are bilinguals. We have demonstrated in several areas of our research that these two languages support each other in cognitive, literacy and meta-linguistic development. Currently bilingualism research is showing real advantages for hearing children's development, but bilingual education (English and BSL) for deaf children is on the decline. We wanted to address this issue in an ESRC event as it is not Science but instead Economics that appears to be behind the changes to provision of educational opportunities for deaf children.”
Held at University College London (UCL), the event attracted a good mix of academics, general public and professionals working on practical aspects around bilingualism. There were four speakers whose presentations overlapped well, taking the audience through a range of evidence based issues, with plenty of time for audience participation and discussion.
Two languages in one brain
first presentation was from Professor of Developmental Linguistics at
University of Edinburgh, Antonella Sorace, and titled “Two languages in
one brain: why bilingualism is an investment for life”. In her talk
Antonella described some of the research looking at why bilingualism
offers advantages for children as well as dispelling some of the myths
that surround children learning two languages simultaneously. Children
who use two languages seem to be able to get to grips faster with some
of the key concepts related to how we understand the world than those
who only use one language. More on Antonella’s work and that of her
University of Edinburgh research colleagues is available at the
web-based information and consultancy service Bilingualism Matters.
Antonella founded this site to bridge the gap between researchers and
the community (bilingual families, educators, and policy makers) in
order to enable more and more children to benefit from bilingualism.
The second presentation - “Bilingualism in two sign languages: British Sign Language and Irish Sign Language” - was by DCAL researcher Robert Adam and looked at the relationship between different dialects of British Sign Language and Irish Sign Language. Robert was brought up in a bilingual environment in Australia where both Auslan and Australian Irish Sign Language (AISL) were used by different parents. AISL was brought to Australia by Irish catholic nuns who taught his mother, whereas Auslan, a language that has similar roots to BSL, was used by his father. This experience has given Robert an insight into bilingualism which has influenced his research into how two sign languages interact with each other in places such as Australia, the Republic of Ireland and in Northern Ireland.
Exploring identity in different cultures
The following presentation was given by Jane Thomas, who is a Specialist Speech and Language Therapist (SALT). Jane is one of the Project Directors of the Life and Deaf Association that has been using poetry as a way of working with Deaf children. Her presentation, “Exploring identity through poetry” discussed this inspirational project which aims to develop Deaf children’s self-esteem and communication in signed, spoken and written languages.
In Speech and Language Therapy sessions, the children explored their feelings about their Deaf identity. They created mindmaps from brainstorms, explored poetry about identity in different cultures, developed their vocabulary of emotions and wrote their own unique poetry. As the project developed, the Deaf children worked with Deaf poets, Deaf instructors and actors, to translate their written poetry into BSL and learn to perform confidently and professionally. They then worked with designers, photographers, film-makers and editors (both deaf and hearing) to create a beautiful book and a DVD of their BSL poetry.
The last presentation of the afternoon was by Mar Perez from the Special Education Services in Madrid, titled “Sign bilingual education in the Community of Madrid”. This work is being carried out in collaboration with DCAL’s Gary Morgan. Mar talked about a project they have been working on together for the last two years looking at how to develop assessments and evaluations of language and cognitive development in Spanish deaf children. Research at DCAL on sign language assessments are providing an evidence base for similar work in Spain. The work also involves Marian Valmaseda in Madrid and Dr. Ros Herman of City University London.
The feedback from the afternoon was very positive, with fascinating presentations and an engaged audience. DCAL looks forwards to holding similar events in the future. Check DCAL’s website for news of events and opportunities. Alternatively sign up to be added to DCAL’s mailing list for publications, press releases and announcements.
This classroom photo shows a hearing teacher using Spanish Sign Language to explain a mathematics problem to a hearing child. In other parts of the classroom there are deaf children working.
ILLUSTRATION MARGARET SCOTT.