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Downsides to teaching ASL while not speaking English?

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I generally speak German with my kids, but have a child who is still non-verbal at 21 months. So we've started signing a lot more with her and she's picking it up very well and quickly. But it's left me wondering what, if any, unanticipated downsides there might be to teaching ASL without the English, since many of the words are related to their English words (i.e., horse uses the "h" letter) and those roots wouldn't carry over to someone speaking German.

 

Am I over-thinking this?

 

It's unclear right now if she's just slow to talk (in which case, we'll use signs for a short while and then ditch them once she's talking) or if there's something else going on (that might cause us to use signing longer term) - and I just don't want to "mess" up what I'm teaching them! :)

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I think you are over thinking it. Toddlers learning signs don't generally pick up on the "h" hand for horse sorts of connections--they just learn "this sign represents horse". Just as a toddler speaking English doesn't initially connect the letter h with the word horse, they just connect the word with the animal.

 

Kids growing up in a bilingual environment do sometimes learn to speak later, but if you have concerns about her hearing or her speech development in general don't hesitate to seek evaluations. Especially if there are hearing concerns.

Edited by maize

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Don't make a habit of voicing while signing. It can hamper their choice to use the sign, as they can figure that if they can't make the movement and voice the word, there's no point bothering with that vocabulary item at all.

 

It also prevents anyone using proper grammar, in either language.

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Kids growing up in a bilingual environment do sometimes learn to speak later, but if you have concerns about her hearing or her speech development in general don't hesitate to seek evaluations. Especially if there are hearing concerns.

We actually have had her evaluated and will begin speech as soon as they have an opening (booked full, right now, unfortunately). :) Thanks for the reassurance.

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Don't make a habit of voicing while signing. It can hamper their choice to use the sign, as they can figure that if they can't make the movement and voice the word, there's no point bothering with that vocabulary item at all.

 

Really? I always thought you *were* supposed to voice while signing. That's what my dad always said when he was learning sign bc of hearing loss, at any rate.

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Really? I always thought you *were* supposed to voice while signing. That's what my dad always said when he was learning sign bc of hearing loss, at any rate.

 

He probably said that because it makes a learner feel they're learning faster. They aren't, they're learning slower but more comfortably.

 

 

Sign-speak a few times when introducing a new sign, if you like, then drop the English.

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Really? I always thought you *were* supposed to voice while signing. That's what my dad always said when he was learning sign bc of hearing loss, at any rate.

 

It depends on whether you're using ASL (which is it's only language with it's own grammar) or you're using individual signs to support your spoken language (e.g. baby sign).  

 

If your goal is bilingualism, then you'll want to use ASL grammar, and separate it from German or English.  If your goal is to use sign as a support while they are learning German or English, e.g. to reduce frustration or increase comprehension of spoken English, then you'll want to speak grammatically correct German/English, and sign the most important words.

 

Are you in the US or Canada?  I'm curious why you aren't using German Sign Language.

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It depends on whether you're using ASL (which is it's only language with it's own grammar) or you're using individual signs to support your spoken language (e.g. baby sign).

 

If your goal is bilingualism, then you'll want to use ASL grammar, and separate it from German or English.  If your goal is to use sign as a support while they are learning German or English, e.g. to reduce frustration or increase comprehension of spoken English, then you'll want to speak grammatically correct German/English, and sign the most important words.

 

I've never really thought about it that way before, but that makes a lot of sense. If I'm undecided (we've only ever done baby sign with my other kids, but I'm not sure if we'll have to sign long-term with this kiddo), I suspect I should just try to separate all three languages, though I'm ill prepared to do that right now since I am learning to sign right along with my kids.

 

Are you in the US or Canada?  I'm curious why you aren't using German Sign Language.

Yes, we're in the US and so ASL is easily available and makes the most sense for me to learn/teach since it's what others around us also know (at least, a little bit!).

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ASL and English are separate languages, so I don't see why you would need one to learn the other. ASL is NOT English words in signs. When you sign, you are signing concepts, not English words. So there is no correlation to English in the sense you are thinking. The 'H' hand shape is signing the same concept that the English letter 'H' stands for, it is not signing the English letter 'H'. If you are just using random signs and plan to drop and use English once she starts to talk, then I would just do what you are doing and not worry about it. If you want her to learn ASL you will need to learn the grammar and syntax of ASL and learn the correct facial and body expressions that each sign requires. That would be a study that is completely separate from learning English. I think it would be too difficult for a child to learn both at once. A good rule of thumb is if you can talk in English while signing, you aren't using ASL [emoji6]

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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I think you are probably over thinking it. Continue to teach vocabulary, vocalizing as needed to remind yourself or other family members. At her age (2?) grammar is more of a bonus that accompanies increasing vocabulary. Obviously if she starts talking you can phase out the signing. If there is something more significant with her speech than a delay, you could presumably morph the vocabulary you all know at that point into a more formal/accurate study of ASL. Wing it for 6 months and then reevaluate.

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