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Bilingual Bimodal approach to Language Acquisition.

Parents can help improve their child's language development by providing rich language experiences led by their child's language preferences.

What was this paper about?

This Australian study examined which factors contributed to the language outcomes of young deaf children whose hearing parents exposed them to English and Auslan early in their development.

The participants were eight severe-to-profoundly deaf children and their hearing parents living enrolled in a Victorian Department of Education and Training bimodal bilingual early childhood intervention program for deaf children and their families.

The study measured the quality of the parents’ bilingual input – how much they engaged with the English-Auslan approach, their proficiency in Auslan, their language use and how flexible they were in adapting to their child’s changing preferences for spoken or sign language during the study. 

What were the key findings?

  • The study identified children with better outcomes had parents who were more sensitive to their communication needs, maximising their child's engagement, providing rich language experiences and being led of their children's language preferences.
  • Different communication strategies measured parents' sensitivities to their child's language needs including: visual attention, responding to the child's preferred communication, adapting communication, and gaining a child's attention.
  • Parents are encouraged to be sensitive to their child's language needs by following whether they use sign or spoken language and reciprocating by responding in the same language promoting a child-led choice of modality, rather than the choice being led by the preference of parents or professionals.
  • Other communication strategies included exposing children to spoken or sign language being used exclusively by one person; for instance, a Deaf sign language tutor only using Auslan, or a parent only using speech.

Where can I read more about this study?

Elizabeth M. Levesque, The Impact of a Bimodal Bilingual Input on Deaf Children's Communication and Language Development, 2014

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