Journal Article

Can the Linguistic Interdependence Theory Support A Bilingual-Bicultural Model of Literacy Education for Deaf Students?

Connie Mayer and Gordon Wells

in The Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education

Volume 1, issue 2, pages 93-107
Published in print January 1996 | ISSN: 1081-4159
Published online January 1996 | e-ISSN: 1465-7325 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordjournals.deafed.a014290
Can the Linguistic Interdependence Theory Support A Bilingual-Bicultural Model of Literacy Education for Deaf Students?

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Drawing on Cummins' (1989) linguistic interdependence model, proponents of bilingual-bicultural models of literacy education for deaf students claim that, if ASL is well established as the L1, then literacy in English (L2) can be achieved by means of reading and writing without exposure to English through either speech or English-based sign. In our opinion, this claim is based on a false analogy: the situation of the deaf learner of English literacy does not match the conditions assumed by the linguistic interdependence model. We draw on the work of Vygotsky and Halliday to develop a conceptualization of the processes involved in becoming literate, examining the particular and unique challenges that deaf students face as they strive to become members of the linguistic community of users of written English. We argue that becoming literate involves mastering three modes of language use: “social speech,” “inner speech,” and written text. In some respects the educational context for deaf students is analogous to that of other bilingual learners; in some crucial aspects, it is very different.

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

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