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Title:An Investigation of Similarities and Differences in the Syntactic Abilities of Deaf and Hearing Children Learning English as a First or Second Language
Author(s):King, Cynthia Marilyn
Department / Program:Speech and Hearing Science
Discipline:Speech and Hearing Science
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Education, Special
Abstract:The purpose of this study was to differentiate between two basic positions taken by investigators of the language of deaf children: (1) the process by which deaf children acquire language is different from the process by which hearing children acquire language, and (2) the processes by which deaf and hearing children acquire language are the same or similar. In addressing this issue, the investigator developed a conceptual framework which attempts to organize some of the various factors which might influence the development of language in deaf children. This conceptual framework is only a first approximation to a complete description, but it allowed for systematic study of the problem.
Several types of measures were used in the study: qualitative measures which assess the order of difficulty across various syntactic structures, the order of error usage, and the types of errors, and quantitative measures which assess the level of performance on the various syntactic structures and error patterns. The study focused upon qualitative measures since these have the most potential for differentiating between a "different processes" explanation and a "similar processes" explanation. One component of language (syntax) and one mode of language (reading) were considered. The instruments used in the study were the Screening Test and four individual diagnostic tests of the Test of Syntactic Abilities (TSA).
The five TSA tests were administered to four groups of American children. Two hearing status categories (hearing and deaf) and two language background categories (English as a first language {L1} and English as a second language {L2} were represented. 80 subjects participated in the study: 40 deaf subjects between the ages of 8 and 13 who attended public day schools in the Southeastern section of the United States and 40 hearing subjects between the ages of 8 and 11 from the same school district as the deaf subjects. Each deaf subject had a sensorineural hearing impairment of not less than 90 dB in the better ear and had acquired that impairment prior to two years of age. All subjects attended day (non-residential) schools and received English instruction in the content areas.
Analysis of the data included a detailed error analysis of responses on the tests, and comparisons of the orders of difficulty (qualitative), the order of error usage (qualitative), and the level of performance (quantitative). Rank-Order Correlations, Three-Way Analyses of Variance, and Discriminant Analyses were used to make the comparisons. The study groups were combined in four different ways to provide information concerning the effects of (1) hearing status, (2) language background, (3) age level, and (4) language x age level on language performance.
As expected, the results indicated significant differences between deaf and hearing children on the level of performance (a quantitative measure). Quantitative differences were also found between the age level groups and for some of the language background groups. The qualitative measures, however, for the most part, indicated similar orders of difficulty and orders of error usage for each combination of the study groups. While one must be cautious in interpolating from order of difficulty data to order of acquisition, these results support the contention that deaf and hearing children acquire language in the same or a similar way. Additional support for this position comes from the existence of a literature indicating similarities between the errors produced by deaf children and by individuals learning English as a second language. Implications of these results for teaching methodology and future research are discussed.
Issue Date:1981
Description:329 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1981.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8127619
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-14
Date Deposited:1981

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