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Home arrow Language & Literature arrow Bilingualism and Deafness: On Language Contact in the Bilingual Acquisition of Sign Language and Written Language
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Introducing the case studies

The empirical study of the bilingual acquisition of DGS and German presented in this work is based on a longitudinal data collection of deaf students attending a bilingual education programme in Germany. In the following we will briefly sketch the profiles of the participants and the key features of the sign bilingual programme they attended. Subsequently, we turn to methodological issues.

Participants

The study presented in the following sections is part of a broader longitudinal investigation of bilingually educated deaf students attending the bilingual education programme established in Berlin (cf. section 2.5.2.2). The present study covers the data of six students of the bilingual class.[1]

Table 2.4 provides an overview of (a) the children’s age at kindergarten, preschool and bilingual programme enrolment respectively, (b) the vehicular languages or communication systems used in these institutions, and (c) the participants’ home language(s). As we can see, the children’s age of exposure to DGS ranges from 1;2 years (Christa) to 5;5 years (Fuad). All attended the preschool located at the premises of the school in which the bilingual programme was run. The students’ age at the beginning of the bilingual programme (1st year primary school) ranged from about six to seven and a half years. Fuad, Simon, and Ham- ida’s experience of a systematic exposure to DGS at enrolment in the bilingual programme ranges between 1;9 and 2;7 years; whereas Maria, Muhammed, and Christa’s experience ranges between 3;6 and 4;7 years. Further, we can see that some of the children have a non-German background (parental language(s) include Arabic, Farsi, and Turkish) and that some parents learned DGS or LBG which they use in the communication with their children. Two children, Hamida and Simon, have deaf siblings.

Table 2.5 provides an overview of the participants’ audiometric and audiological profiles. We can see that all participants use hearing aids; two of them (Muhammed and Fuad) have a cochlear implant. Further, their degree of hearing loss (average) ranges from 71 dB to 114 dB, with substantial variation in the measures for their aided hearing thresholds. Participants also differ with respect to their audiological classification (for further details see Gunther et al. 2011: 10-14).

Table 2.4: Participants’ profiles with respect to their home languages, ages at enrolment and language(s) used (based on Gunther et al. 2011: 10-14).

Kindergarten / nursery (vehicular language)*

Preschool

(vehicular

language:

DGS**)

Primary school / bilingual programme

Home language(s)

Muhammed

2;2 (LBG, DGS)

3;2

6;1

Turkish, LBG, DGS

Simon

n.a.

4;9

7;2

LUG/LBG with mother, DGS with deaf sister

Maria

3 (DGS, LGB)

6;6***

7;6

DGS and LBG

Fuad

2;8 (German) integrated Kindergarten

5;5

7;2

Farsi, German, LBG

Hamida

1 (German)

regular nursery, 3;1 i ntegrated nursery

4;4

6;11

Arabic, German (parents use German in interactions with Hamida)

(Hamida has two deaf siblings)

Christa

1;2 (LBG, DGS)

2;11

5;11

DGS, LBG, German

  • * age at enrolment
  • ** LBG used in specific activities
  • *** Maria initially attended a preschool group with LUG and LBG

Table 2.5: Participants’ audiometric and audiological profiles (based on Gunther et al. 2011: 10).*

Hearing aid

Hearing loss (average)

Aided hearing thresholds (Aufblahkurve)

Classification (Horgrad [audiologisch])

Muhammed

CI (at 9;9 yrs)

  • 00
  • 00

Q_

CD

30dB - 35dB

residual hearing (Resthorigkeit)

Simon

Hearing aid

90 dB

65dB - 70dB

residual hearing (Resthorigkeit)

Maria

Hearing aid

99 dB

40dB - 80dB

severe to profound hearing loss (an Taubheit grenzende Schwer- horigkeit)

Fuad

CI (at 3;7 yrs)

  • 00
  • 00

Q_

CD

30dB - 35dB

residual hearing (Resthorigkeit)

Hamida

Hearing aid

71 dB

40dB - 60dB

severe hearing impairment (hochgradige Schwerhorigkeit)

Christa

Hearing aid

114 dB

70dB - 90dB

severe to profound hearing loss (an Taubheitgrenzend)

* The original terminology in German is provided in brackets.

  • [1] At the time of the implementation of the bilingual programme, the number of students participating was 9, 5 boys and 4 girls, all of them children of hearing parents. In the present study, thetwo boys with additional learning problems were not included. Also, we decided not to includethe data of one girl, Lilli, because she changed school about one year after we started recordings.
 
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