Sunday, October 20, 2019
American Sign Language As A Language Education Essay
American Sign Language As A Language Education Essay In this chapter, a review of the literature that serves as a foundation for this study is presented. The literature review addresses the theoretical basis of considering American Sign Language as a language, issues in the administration of modern/foreign language programs that parallel the concerns of sign language program administrators, national language program standards, the history of the teaching and administration of post-secondary sign language programs including information on the academic acceptance of sign language in higher education. Concluding this chapter will be a discussion on the state of the literature. American Sign Language as a Language The discussion of ASL and its membership as a language did not occur before William Stokoe, of Gallaudet University in Washington D.C., breached the topic in 1955. Many educators believed sign language was a system of pantomime or broken English. This belief was also held by the deaf individuals themselves (Miller, 2008). Stokoe believed that ASL was indeed a naturally occurring and distinct language ustilized by deaf people and could be studied as a language (Stokoe, 1960 ). StokoeÃ¢â¬â¢s research spanned from 1955 to 1965 and covered signing as a linguistic system and signs as a part of the system. The first American Sign Language Dictionary was published in 1965 at the conclusion of the first part of StokoeÃ¢â¬â¢s research. The focus part of StokeoeÃ¢â¬â¢s continued research focused on the syntax of the language and its importance to teaching English to deaf children. Dr Stokoe asserts he was in constant contact with the Center for Applied Linguistics, the Georgetown University School of Language and Linguistics, and the Washington Linguistics Club, laying the foundation and belief that parts of sign language grammar paralleled parts of the languages they were studying (Stokoe, 1990). Stokoe believed signs could be taken apart and analyzed into parts allowing researchers and linguists to study how the language works, how they evolved, and how they could be taught. The work of William Stokoe was not widely accepted among all professionals. Since the 1970s many have argued against the language classification for ASL and especially that of foreign language (Stokoe, 1960; Wilcox, 1990). ASL was studied and analyzed without further evidence that it was a full blown language. Questions have been raised regarding ASLÃ¢â¬â¢s legitimacy as a foreign language. The following are a set of questions that are common among critics of ASL. (a) IsnÃ¢â¬â¢t ASL indigenous to the United States and therefore not foreign? (b) IsnÃ¢â¬â¢t ASL a derivative of English which would disqualify it as a separate language? (c) Is ASL naturally occurring and evolving? (d) If ASL is not written, how can it have a culture? (e) Is there a body of literature to support ASL and its culture? All of these questions have been asked over the decades and have been the major road blocks to ASL being recognized a s a language. William Stokoe effectively answered these questions over several years which have been supported by several other scholars in linguistics and culture. In response to the questions regarding whether or not ASL is a language, Stokoe explains in detail with books and dictionaries the morphology, phonology, syntax, as well as semantics and pragmatics and how it differs from that of English or other spoken languages (Stokoe, 1960). Wilcox it contains structures and processes which English lacks (Wilcox, 1999; Vigoda, 1993). When comparing American Sign Language to other accepted foreign languages one must take in to account that Navajo and several other Native American languages are widely accepted as foreign languages, being even more indigenous to America than ASL. A language need not be foreign to be considered a foreign language (Wilcox, S. & Wilcox, P., 1991).