Bilingual/Bicultural Education By, Allison Mazza University of Tulsa Bilingualism Bilingualism is the ability to know, understand, and to use two languages in one’s life. In the United States today, it is very common to see two languages in the home, due to the fact that many families are bicultural. It is important for students to learn about their own culture they were born with as well as the culture they were born into. Language Acquisition Language acquisition is an everyday task for children up to the age of about seven. First language should be learned between the ages of 3-5 years old. First language of the home is called the native or heritage language. The language that is easiest to learn is called the natural language. Hearing vs. Deaf or Hard of Hearing Children Hearing children in a bilingual classroom already have learned a native language and can bring that language acquisition process to the classroom to learn a second language. Some deaf children have no language acquisition when they enter a bilingual/bicultural environment, so they are already behind and must be taught a first language. Both hearing children and deaf or hard of hearing children go through the same language acquisition and learning process. The Key to Success… Deaf or hard of hearing children need a first language to be able to learn a second one. The Main Problem… There are not enough skilled and qualified teachers who are able to take the language deficient child and begin the remediation process or take the language fluent child and challenge them to a higher level of thinking to learn a second language. Teachers Need To… Be proficient in ASL and in English. Understand the importance of eye contact and linguistic uses of eye gaze. Understand the process of first language acquisition. Understand how to bridge from ASL to English and other strategies of teaching English as a second language. Be knowledgeable of the requirements of the general curriculum. Biculturalism Classroom has visual orientation and the sensitivity to visual requirements. Full access to communication Respect for deaf students community and culture A variety of students (ie. Deaf students, their hearing siblings, hearing children of deaf adults, hard of hearing students.) Models in ASL/ESL Star Schools project led by Steve Nover. Swedish Model Star Schools Project “The purpose of the Star Schools project is to implement and test a proposed bilingual/ESL model for deaf students acquiring and learning two languages, American Sign Language (ASL) and English.” The Swedish Model In 1981, the Swedish Parliament passed a law stating that deaf people need to be bilingual in order to function successfully in families, in schools, and in society.
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