Is there a such thing as "true bilingualism"?

faire_jour

New Member
I went to a meeting today about AV and spoken language. The conversation rolled around to changes at our state school for the deaf. We have a two track option. You can do auditory-oral OR ASL-English. I asked "Well, what if you want both?" My answer was, in essence, "too bad!" I was told that we have to choose a dominant, primary language.

I spoke with a teacher of the Deaf who was trained at Gallaudet and she boiled it down to 2 choices.

As an adult, Miss Kat can function as a HOH person who lives and functions in the hearing world, but knows ASL and gets support from the Deaf community

OR

She can be raised with ASL as her first language. She would be Deaf and live in the Deaf world. She would use her "oral skills" (not fluent spoken language) to interact with hearing people, perhaps even all day at work, but at the end of the day, she would always return to the Deaf world.

This would be the decision we have to make, and we would proceed on whichever path we choose.

So, I'm asking, is there no such thing as true bilingualism? Can she really never be truly comfortable in both worlds and languages?
 

Mrs Bucket

New Member
I grew up bilingual in a bicultural setting.

I am a testament of the Bi-Bi method.

I am 37 years old.

I grew up with ASL at home and talking as well as writing English in the general community for nearly 37 years.

My formative years were always based on ASL as well as English.

MissKat will be comfortable with what language she decides to choose.

If she decides to be monolingual, bilingual or even multilingual, wonderful!

My nephew is multilingual and it is because we exposed him at birth to all languages, this made him eager to learn. We didn't enforce this, we didn't instil this as we believe exposure to all languages is best.

By the age of 3, Joe; my nephew was fluent in ASL and English. By 5, he was fluent in ASL, English and Spanish.

His receptive skills are amazing; he is able to understand full conversations as well as his ASL grammar (facial and body) has been mistaken as a Deaf person's grammar.

Exposure, exposure and exposure- MissKat has had true bilingualism growing up in the form of being immersed in the Deaf community, the classroom setting and so on.

Please remember AVT and Deaf Culture will never mesh together.

AVT focuses only on audio-visual training - the ear and the mouth; that's it.

ASL focuses on the brain, the heart and the soul of the person. The person's ID is complete with ASL because to have ASL you have Deaf Culture.

I cannot stress this enough with AVT and ASL. Those two are polar opposites.

I have had AVT growing up and must admit that AVT can be damaging to a child's self esteem if not done carefully by and with a caring person.

AVT is very strenuous on both the mind and the eyes. To match each voice acoustics as well as mouth morphemes the instructor teaches; you can expect emotional meltdowns.

AVT is not a family-related activity whereas ASL is. With ASL, you can involve the whole family together and lessen the miscommunications.

Naturally I sound biased about AVT as it is because I grew up with both AVT and ASL; I had a choice and I chose ASL. AVT did not accomplish anything for me whereas ASL accomplished everything for me. I came from a Deaf-centric background and I grew up in the Deaf-World where I felt AVT had no place in.

ASL was and still is my first language. To this day, when I am approached by a hearing person, I will sign "Deaf' and then gesture to the person. We both actually do fine without pen and paper unless it is a person who freezes on the spot. The pen and paper comes out.

I hope this all helps you.
 

Frisky Feline

Well-Known Member
yes. I can see that is a tough decision. Follow your instinct mother as you can see how your girl's response, as to which she is more comfortable and HAPPY the way she communicate with her primary language, then stick with her comfortable language while she can learn BOTH now. She is still young and is going to be ok when she gets older with either that or that path or both. sometimes, as the first language is more comfortable but still can use two lanaguages.

my dad's first language was italian lanaguage but he is using his second language is american all his life. He uses both languages.
 

Waxy

Member
I grew up bilingual in a bicultural setting.

I am a testament of the Bi-Bi method.

I am 37 years old.

I grew up with ASL at home and talking as well as writing English in the general community for nearly 37 years.

My formative years were always based on ASL as well as English.

MissKat will be comfortable with what language she decides to choose.

If she decides to be monolingual, bilingual or even multilingual, wonderful!

My nephew is multilingual and it is because we exposed him at birth to all languages, this made him eager to learn. We didn't enforce this, we didn't instil this as we believe exposure to all languages is best.

By the age of 3, Joe; my nephew was fluent in ASL and English. By 5, he was fluent in ASL, English and Spanish.

His receptive skills are amazing; he is able to understand full conversations as well as his ASL grammar (facial and body) has been mistaken as a Deaf person's grammar.

Exposure, exposure and exposure- MissKat has had true bilingualism growing up in the form of being immersed in the Deaf community, the classroom setting and so on.

Please remember AVT and Deaf Culture will never mesh together.

AVT focuses only on audio-visual training - the ear and the mouth; that's it.

ASL focuses on the brain, the heart and the soul of the person. The person's ID is complete with ASL because to have ASL you have Deaf Culture.

I cannot stress this enough with AVT and ASL. Those two are polar opposites.

I have had AVT growing up and must admit that AVT can be damaging to a child's self esteem if not done carefully by and with a caring person.

AVT is very strenuous on both the mind and the eyes. To match each voice acoustics as well as mouth morphemes the instructor teaches; you can expect emotional meltdowns.

AVT is not a family-related activity whereas ASL is. With ASL, you can involve the whole family together and lessen the miscommunications.

Naturally I sound biased about AVT as it is because I grew up with both AVT and ASL; I had a choice and I chose ASL. AVT did not accomplish anything for me whereas ASL accomplished everything for me. I came from a Deaf-centric background and I grew up in the Deaf-World where I felt AVT had no place in.

ASL was and still is my first language. To this day, when I am approached by a hearing person, I will sign "Deaf' and then gesture to the person. We both actually do fine without pen and paper unless it is a person who freezes on the spot. The pen and paper comes out.

I hope this all helps you.
:gpost:
 

shel90

Audist are not welcome
Premium Member
I have met so many deaf people who are truly bilingual and there are quite a few here on AD.

I am with Mrs. Bucket and I wanted to add...you gave Miss Kat both languages so it is up to her to determine if she is comfortable with both or using one or the other. Unlike many of us, Miss Kat was given the opportunity and knows about both worlds. Most of us were forced to grow up monolingual (English only) and never exposed to the Deaf community. Due to so many testomonials here on AD and out there, most of us wished we had both.
 

Lighthouse77

New Member
She can be raised with ASL as her first language. She would be Deaf and live in the Deaf world. She would use her "oral skills" (not fluent spoken language) to interact with hearing people, perhaps even all day at work, but at the end of the day, she would always return to the Deaf world.
what's wrong with that? as a ORAL-only deaf myself,I rather have that. and that's when I usually use my voice anyway. everything else, I just use the computer.As an oral-only deaf, I am not fluent in spoken language and I don't know anything about sign language. People still tell me I talk funny. people still don't treat me the way they treat other hearing people.

My mom was one of those who felt I could always learn ASL later, but I need to learn spoken Language now.
 

faire_jour

New Member
I didn't say there was anything wrong with either choice, I just want to know if I must make a choice. Does there really have to be one primary language? Is it possible to be equally comfortable in spoken language AND asl?
 

sallylou

Potterhead and Janeite
Premium Member
I think that each person has a primary language. It's a personal decision that each person has to make. Even in bilingual homes, children choose which language to answer in. I have friends who speak Spanish to their children and the children answer in English.

I'm sorry that you're being pressured to make such a difficult decision. Whatever choice you make is not necessarily permanent. Kat may decide to change when she is a teenager.
 

Reba

Retired Terp
Premium Member
I didn't say there was anything wrong with either choice, I just want to know if I must make a choice. Does there really have to be one primary language? Is it possible to be equally comfortable in spoken language AND asl?
It's too bad that you have to choose an "either or" program. It does seem that you, as a parent, should have all options available, which would include a comprehensive program, not a limited one.

I suspect some of the reasons behind your school's restrictions are:

1. political (the old "oral vs. ASL" battle), and trying to appease both factions

2. financial (limited resources to make a truly inclusive program viable)

I guess whichever track you choose, you will have to supplement from other resources in order to achieve a balance.

I'm encouraged by the fact that you are a pro-active parent, and that you are willing to ask the hard questions. Those factors will certainly give your daughter an advantage in her educational journey. :)
 

Mrs Bucket

New Member
If you feel pressured to make a decision, this is where you need to speak up.

MissKat needs all the reinforcements in the world, you need all the support in the world.

The school system needs to reinforce your belief of communication systems for MissKat.

Bilingualism is very important for MissKat - to be forced to make a decision right now in her formative years isn't appropriate and I must admit I am concerned why the school system is expecting you to make a decision when it is MissKat's own personal decision in her later formative years.

I encourage you to reach out to the Deaf Bilingual Coalition for support as they will reinforce your stance on MissKat's choices in communication.
 

sallylou

Potterhead and Janeite
Premium Member
I guess whichever track you choose, you will have to supplement from other resources in order to achieve a balance.

I'm encouraged by the fact that you are a pro-active parent, and that you are willing to ask the hard questions. Those factors will certainly give your daughter an advantage in her educational journey.
:gpost:
 

Mrs Bucket

New Member
It's too bad that you have to choose an "either or" program. It does seem that you, as a parent, should have all options available, which would include a comprehensive program, not a limited one.

I suspect some of the reasons behind your school's restrictions are:

1. political (the old "oral vs. ASL" battle), and trying to appease both factions

2. financial (limited resources to make a truly inclusive program viable)

I guess whichever track you choose, you will have to supplement from other resources in order to achieve a balance.

I'm encouraged by the fact that you are a pro-active parent, and that you are willing to ask the hard questions. Those factors will certainly give your daughter an advantage in her educational journey. :)
Very very well said Auntie!! :applause:
 

Lissa

Active Member
Premium Member
I grew up bilingual in a bicultural setting.

I am a testament of the Bi-Bi method.

I am 37 years old.

I grew up with ASL at home and talking as well as writing English in the general community for nearly 37 years.

My formative years were always based on ASL as well as English.

MissKat will be comfortable with what language she decides to choose.

If she decides to be monolingual, bilingual or even multilingual, wonderful!

My nephew is multilingual and it is because we exposed him at birth to all languages, this made him eager to learn. We didn't enforce this, we didn't instil this as we believe exposure to all languages is best.

By the age of 3, Joe; my nephew was fluent in ASL and English. By 5, he was fluent in ASL, English and Spanish.

His receptive skills are amazing; he is able to understand full conversations as well as his ASL grammar (facial and body) has been mistaken as a Deaf person's grammar.

Exposure, exposure and exposure- MissKat has had true bilingualism growing up in the form of being immersed in the Deaf community, the classroom setting and so on.

Please remember AVT and Deaf Culture will never mesh together.

AVT focuses only on audio-visual training - the ear and the mouth; that's it.

ASL focuses on the brain, the heart and the soul of the person. The person's ID is complete with ASL because to have ASL you have Deaf Culture.

I cannot stress this enough with AVT and ASL. Those two are polar opposites.

I have had AVT growing up and must admit that AVT can be damaging to a child's self esteem if not done carefully by and with a caring person.

AVT is very strenuous on both the mind and the eyes. To match each voice acoustics as well as mouth morphemes the instructor teaches; you can expect emotional meltdowns.

AVT is not a family-related activity whereas ASL is. With ASL, you can involve the whole family together and lessen the miscommunications.

Naturally I sound biased about AVT as it is because I grew up with both AVT and ASL; I had a choice and I chose ASL. AVT did not accomplish anything for me whereas ASL accomplished everything for me. I came from a Deaf-centric background and I grew up in the Deaf-World where I felt AVT had no place in.

ASL was and still is my first language. To this day, when I am approached by a hearing person, I will sign "Deaf' and then gesture to the person. We both actually do fine without pen and paper unless it is a person who freezes on the spot. The pen and paper comes out.

I hope this all helps you.
:gpost:
 

Lissa

Active Member
Premium Member
I have met so many deaf people who are truly bilingual and there are quite a few here on AD.

I am with Mrs. Bucket and I wanted to add...you gave Miss Kat both languages so it is up to her to determine if she is comfortable with both or using one or the other. Unlike many of us, Miss Kat was given the opportunity and knows about both worlds. Most of us were forced to grow up monolingual (English only) and never exposed to the Deaf community. Due to so many testomonials here on AD and out there, most of us wished we had both.
:gpost:
 

souggy

New Member
The argument against "true bilingualism" doesn't make sense.

A lot of Canadians are bilingual... speak English or French in public, and many speak their native tongues in their own enclaves (ie. Chinatown, Koreatown, Little Saigon) and at home (ie. the German-speaking populations.) Some even switch between the English language and a second language fluidly with no problem right in front of another person in public.
 

deafdyke

Well-Known Member
As an adult, Miss Kat can function as a HOH person who lives and functions in the hearing world, but knows ASL and gets support from the Deaf community

OR

She can be raised with ASL as her first language. She would be Deaf and live in the Deaf world. She would use her "oral skills" (not fluent spoken language) to interact with hearing people, perhaps even all day at work, but at the end of the day, she would always return to the Deaf world.
I don't think it's as black and white as that.
DId the TOD mean "SHHH" style hoh? After all there's a HUGE range of hoh.
There are tons of hoh foks who identify strongly as Deaf and who switch between both worlds easily. It's not an "either or" sitution.
 

shel90

Audist are not welcome
Premium Member
I don't think it's as black and white as that.
DId the TOD mean "SHHH" style hoh? After all there's a HUGE range of hoh.
There are tons of hoh foks who identify strongly as Deaf and who switch between both worlds easily. It's not an "either or" sitution.
Right and there is nothing wrong with doing both or just doing either one of them. I dont understand why you are worried, FJ?

Tell whoever is telling you that she cant do both, they are dead wrong. Give Miss Kat both and let her find her way as she grows up. I cant believe whoever told you that you must choose a dominant language and cant do both.
 
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lucyinthesky

New Member
It is definitely possible to be completely bilingual, but it's a lot of work. Like one poster said, some kids will answer their parents in English when they are spoken to in Spanish, but if the parents refuse to accept it the kids will use Spanish as long as they have the resources to do so. I know an Ecuadorian family in which the parents would just gently say "we speak Spanish at home" and today their daughter is completely bilingual at age 20.

My hearing son is bilingual but it's a lot of work to keep him that way. We live in France and I make sure he has a lot of opportunities to speak English. One thing that I and a lot of my English-speaking friends do is encourage our kids to develop English as their dominant language now so that when they are speaking the majority language more they will not lose the minority language.

I just think that a lot of people are narrow-minded about bilingualism. Most of the world is bilingual. Our brains are wired to be bilingual, not monolingual. It's society that makes us monolingual. It is rare in the US to be completely bilingual because the majority language is also a prestige language. There are places in the world where it's the norm to be bilingual.

Miss Kat is part of a new generation of deaf people who can truly be bilingual. You're giving her the tools to do that. You do have to make a decision about her future, but it's not ASL or oral, it's "I want my child to be bilingual." That takes work, no matter what languages you're talking about.
 

deafdyke

Well-Known Member
Give Miss Kat both and let her find her way as she grows up. I cant believe whoever told you that you must choose a dominant language and cant do both.
Ditto!
Miss Kat is part of a new generation of deaf people who can truly be bilingual. You're giving her the tools to do that. You do have to make a decision about her future, but it's not ASL or oral, it's "I want my child to be bilingual."
YES!!!!!!
 
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