Early exposure to language for deaf children

June 5, 2012
Early exposure to language for deaf children

(Medical Xpress) -- Most agree that the earlier you expose a child to a language, the easier it is for that child to pick it up. The same rules apply for deaf children.

According to a new study, early exposure to in addition to for all is the best way to maximise linguistic and to overcome any delays or difficulties due to deafness.

La Trobe University’s Dr Adam Schembri—Director of the National Institute for Deaf Studies and Sign Language—and colleagues examined the effects of age of acquisition in deaf adults who use British Sign Language (BSL).

‘This study is focused specifically on deaf adults and reports significant accuracy differences for those who acquire sign language as a delayed first language between 2 to 8 years of age, but also significantly slower response times for those who acquire sign language as a second language in later life,’ says Dr Schembri.

The study showed children that develop sign language skills from birth had better grammatical judgement in BSL. For adults who reported learning BSL from the ages of 2 to 8 years, the study found it harder for people to acquire the same language skills.

‘One thing that seems very clear is that successful early acquisition of a first language is crucial, whether that language is natural signed language, such as BSL (or Auslan in Australia), or a spoken/written language such as English,’ says Dr Schembri.

The current study supports many others showing that early exposure to accessible language is much more likely to result in successful language acquisition than later exposure.

‘The advantages of early sign language exposure remain clear even with rapid advances in hearing aids and cochlear implants.’

According to Dr Schembri, an approach using both sign language and a spoken or written language will be the most beneficial for children to make the most of their linguistic skills.

‘Bilingual education is the best way of ensuring that deaf children have early exposure to both a signed language and a spoken/written language, which will provide the deaf child with the best chance for successful language acquisition, in either or both languages.

‘We know that bilingualism comes with a range of cognitive benefits, so we would advocate early bilingualism in both signed and spoken for all deaf children,’ says Dr Schembri.

Explore further: Deaf sign language users pick up faster on body language

More information: The Study—First Language acquisition differs from second language acquisition in prelinqually deaf signers: Evidence from sensitivity to grammaticality judgement in British Sign Language—was published in Cognition.

Related Stories

Deaf sign language users pick up faster on body language

January 12, 2012
Deaf people who use sign language are quicker at recognizing and interpreting body language than hearing non-signers, according to new research from investigators at UC Davis and UC Irvine.

'Motherese' important for children's language development

May 6, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- Talking to children has always been fundamental to language development, but new research reveals that the way we talk to children is key to building their ability to understand and create sentences of ...

Recommended for you

Researchers find common psychological traits in group of Italians aged 90 to 101

December 12, 2017
In remote Italian villages nestled between the Mediterranean Sea and mountains lives a group of several hundred citizens over the age of 90. Researchers at the University of Rome La Sapienza and University of California San ...

New therapy can help schizophrenia sufferers re-engage socially

December 11, 2017
A new therapy aimed at helping young people suffering from schizophrenia to reconnect and engage with the world around them has had promising results, according to a new University of Sussex-led study.

Certain books can increase infant learning during shared reading, study shows

December 11, 2017
Parents and pediatricians know that reading to infants is a good thing, but new research shows reading books that clearly name and label people and objects is even better.

Twitter can reveal our shared mood

December 11, 2017
In the largest study of its kind, researchers from the University of Bristol have analysed mood indicators in text from 800 million anonymous messages posted on Twitter. These tweets were found to reflect strong patterns ...

Many different types of anxiety and depression exist, new study finds

December 8, 2017
Five new categories of mental illness that cut across the current more broad diagnoses of anxiety and depression have been identified by researchers in a Stanford-led study.

Study sheds light on the voices in our head

December 8, 2017
New research showing that talking to ourselves in our heads may be the same as speaking our thoughts out loud could help explain why people with mental illnesses such as schizophrenia hear voices.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.