Journal Article

The Transition From Fingerspelling to English Print: Facilitating English Decoding

Tamara S. Haptonstall-Nykaza and Brenda Schick

in The Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education

Volume 12, issue 2, pages 172-183
Published in print January 2007 | ISSN: 1081-4159
Published online February 2007 | e-ISSN: 1465-7325 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/deafed/enm003
The Transition From Fingerspelling to English Print: Facilitating English Decoding

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Fingerspelling is an integral part of American Sign Language (ASL) and it is also an important aspect of becoming bilingual in English and ASL. Even though fingerspelling is based on English orthography, the development of fingerspelling does not parallel the development of reading in hearing children. Research reveals that deaf children may initially treat fingerspelled words as lexical items rather than a series of letters that represent English orthography and only later begin to learn to link handshapes to English graphemes. The purpose of this study is to determine whether a training method that uses fingerspelling and phonological patterns that resemble those found in lexicalized fingerspelling to teach deaf students unknown English vocabulary would increase their ability to learn the fingerspelled and orthographic version of a word. There were 21 deaf students (aged 4–14 years) who participated. Results show that students were better able to recognize and write the printed English word as well as fingerspell the word, when training incorporated fingerspelling that is more lexicalized. The discussion focuses on the degree to which fingerspelling can serve as a visual phonological bridge as an aid to decode English print.

Journal Article.  6280 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Education ; Linguistics ; Teaching of Specific Groups and Special Educational Needs

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