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Hello Everyone. From Japan.
My wife Yoko and I started Akari, our daughter, with sign language soon after she was born one year and three months ago. We are both university English instructors with backgrounds in Linguistics. Yoko also speaks and teaches German. We were quite excited to learn about the benefits of signing and since language is such a big part of our lives, were happy to find that Akari could start communicating with us right away.
After she got a few signs we decided to get her a video and chose My Baby Can Talk. She started watching that at about 8 months and was riveted, she soon began signing quite a lot, so we got her the rest of the series. By one year old, she had gotten most of the signs from that series and wanted *more more more*. We got a big Sign dictionary and began teaching her words that we use every day, but she wasn't learning as fast as she did watching the video.
We found Signing Time at Amazon and got the first few of series one. She loved them and was making such good progress that we got the rest of series one for her. We let her watch two videos per day, usually one in the morning and one in the evening. About a quarter of the time one of us will sign with her while the video is playing and other times we will shout out the words and do the signs from wherever we are nearby.
We recently did an inventory of the signs she's acquired using the Signing Time PDF Progress Chart and found that she knows and uses 122 signs!! We only counted words that she either uses during the day or will produce if shown the object or hears the word. We knew that she was making great progress, but we were surprised at the total number. This doesn't include the words that we have taught her from signing dictionaries, but those probably don't amount to much more than twenty more words. We also took a rough count of her spoken words and it came to about 50, most of which she learned the signs for first.
Since Akari is learning English, Japanese and Signing all at the same time, I suspect that signing will serve as an anchor between the two languages. Instead of needing to learn each language separately, after she learns a vocabulary word from one language the sign will immediately queue her in to the meaning of the word in the other language. If this hasn't been studied, it should be. It may be be a great benefit to kids being raised bilingually. Normally, bilingual kids start speaking later than monolingual kids, but Akari is way, way ahead of even monolingual babies her age. I suspect that this is due in part to signing.
Anyway, that is pretty much our story. We look forward to being part of the forum.
We need more research
Isn't it amazing? I like your terminology "anchor" and I've used this very same word to describe the function of sign language in the brain of a multi-lingual child. I'm a bilingual speech/language pathologist and have firmly believed in the use of sign language for this very same reason for many years now. As linguists, why don't you take this research on in Japan?
I have formally submitted a research prospectus to Claude Goldenberg at Stanford http://www.stanford.edu/~claudeg/ and David J. Francis, Director, Texas Institute for Measurement, Evaluation, and Statistics http://www.tlc2.uh.edu/david_francis
The only other researcher that I'm aware of that addresses this topic is Laura-Ann Petitto a Cognitive Neuroscientist, known for her discoveries involving the language capacity of chimpanzees, the biological bases of language in humans, especially early language acquisition (be it language on the hands in signed language or the tongue in spoken language), and bilingualism and the bilingual brain.
Director and Senior Scientist of The Genes, Mind, and fNIRS Brain Imaging Laboratory for Language, Bilingualism, and Child Development http://www.utsc.utoronto.ca/~petitto/lab/index.html
I am so thrilled you found Signing Time! It sounds like you guys are doing a fabulous job with Akari. I look forward to getting to know you better!
Welcome! I'm half-Japanese, and when 2 of my aunts and their husbands came to visit a couple years ago, my uncles were fascinated with Signing Time as my son watched the shows on his dvd player. One uncle was teaching us the Japanese word as he learned both the English word and the sign as we watched together. It was such a great way to learn each other's language with ASL as the (as you so perfectly termed it) anchor.
Originally Posted by OsakaWilson
Kei, mom of 6, including 11 yr old William, who has T21/aka Down syndrome
My blog~ Unlimited
Hi! My name is Judy. I have 18 month old twin boys and one of them was born deaf. We've been learning ASL with him using the ST! DVDs and are slowly building up our collection. They both LOVE signing with Alex, Leah, and Rachel and it's so cute! Micah, my deaf son, just had his cochlear implants activated this week, but I want to also continue signing with him as a second language for him.
Welcome, Judy! I think it's great that you are giving him the gift of two languages. I look forward to hearing how he reacts to his cochlear implants!
Originally Posted by bingcherry2003
My name is Aubrey. My son Matthew (3) and I are loving signing time or ST as I see it's referred to on here.
My husband Charles has two deaf aunts and I have been interested in ASL since I was in Highschool (about 12 years ago now).
I always knew when I was pregnant with Matthew that I was going to teach him sign. At 6 months I started signing with him. I wasn't worried when he didn't speak when "he's supposed to" because he had his signs.
I've tried various signing videos and stumbled upon ST last month when searching for more in the local library. My husband and I love the videos as much as Matthew does more than his other videos. I know I'll eventually buy a few of them (and I think maybe the whole selection) and keep them for future use.
Matthew now even asks for ST by sign and name. He still doesn't speak clearly, but I know it's a lot less frustrating for him now because he knows ASL.
I plan on making ST a daily part of Matthew's learing experience.
We're so glad I stumbled upon ST!
Aubrey, Charles and Matthew
Welcome! Good for you for giving him another language!!
Hi! My name is Anjie and my daughter, Miranda, is 20 months old. I started signing with her when she was about 10 months old. I started out with just a few simple signs and didn't really get into signing with her until after she turned a year old. Now we can't get enough. I have found that my library has some Signing Time videos and I plan on buying her some for Christmas. It's amazing to watch her learn while watching these videos and she gets so excited about them. I'm glad I have found a forum where I can actively discuss my daughter and her signing.
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