Cross-modal bilingualism: language contact as evidence of linguistic transfer in sign bilingual education

Autor/a: MENÉNDEZ, Bruno
Año: 2010
Editorial: International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, Vol. 13. nº 2 (2010) pp. 201-223
Tipo de código: Copyright
Soporte: Digital




New positive attitudes towards language interaction in the realm of bilingualism open new horizons for sign bilingual education. Plaza-Pust and Morales-López have innovatively reconceptualised a new cross-disciplinary approach to sign bilingualism, based on both sociolinguistics and psycholinguistics. According to this framework, cross-modal bilingualism within the deaf community is a natural, dynamic phenomenon, where code mixing and code switching between languages of different modalities – signed or spoken/written – are often a pragmatic choice of the signer/speaker that serves specific purposes in specific contexts. Following this line of thought, cross-modal contact situations may be viewed as a sign of sophistication, as in any bilingualism, and a fundamental, transitory phase of bilingual language acquisition. Transfer from a sign language to a written second language has been put into question in the sign bilingual education literature. This project intends to address that question through the investigation of cross-modal contact categories found in the written productions of 15 deaf students in a bilingual secondary school in Barcelona. We argue that the pooling of resources that makes deaf students use structures from Catalan Sign Language in written English is suggestive of linguistic transfer at a morphosyntactic level and that language contact is positive to students' bilingual development in this specific context. The impact of this finding for language teaching policy, practice and research in deaf education will be discussed. This study is part of a larger study to further analyse these contact phenomena according to milestones in second language acquisition of written English, Catalan and Spanish, and seeks to establish parallels between the bilingual acquisition development of these deaf students and that of their hearing counterparts.