Sign learning and its use in a co-enrollment kindergarten setting

Año: 2022
Editorial: Frontiers Psychology, 8
Tipo de código: Copyright
Soporte: Digital


Educación » Adquisición y desarrollo del lenguaje


Experimental studies report positive effects of signing for language acquisition and communication in children with and without language development delays. However, little data are available on natural kindergarten settings. Therefore, our study used questionnaire data to investigate the sign learning in hearing children (aged 3;7–5;9 years) with and without language development delays in an inclusive kindergarten group with a co-enrolled deaf child (aged 3;8  years) and a deaf signing educator. We observed that the hearing children in this co-enrollment group learned more signs than the hearing children from groups with only hearing educators who learned signs in a training program. Hearing children’s sign learning showed a tendency toward correlating positively with their level of spoken language development. However, the individual background for children with language development delays impacted this relationship. Additionally, we examined the modality use of all children in interactions with hearing and deaf educators and peers using questionnaire and video data. Despite acquiring signs, hearing children predominantly used spoken language with hearing educators and predominantly nonverbal communication strategies with the deaf educator and the deaf child. Children with language development delays used code-blending with hearing educators in a few cases. The deaf child used mainly sign language for interactions with the deaf educator and mainly nonverbal communication with hearing educators and peers. Overall, our results suggest that the presence of a deaf educator increases sign learning in hearing children. However, in interactions during free play, they barely used signs making it particularly challenging for the deaf child to participate. This reveals that, in addition to a deaf role model, more sign language competent peers and targeted approaches increasing the use of the visual modality are required.