Asl Vs. Oralism Essay

1776 words - 7 pages

When raising a deaf child, parents must decide how to educate that child. The task itself is not as simple as one may think, and each choice comes with at least one drawback. In the case of appropriate educational methods, there are two positions to choose from: American Sign Language (ASL) or Oralism (I have excluded all other possibilities for simple comparison). American Sign Language is a visual, gestural language used by many Deaf Americans today. One method of teaching, called Bilingual-Bicultural education, hopes to introduce congenitally born deaf children to ASL as a first language and follow with written English as a second language. There is not much focus on the spoken form of English. Bi-Bi looks to develop the deaf student's native language and use it as the foundation for learning English as a second language. Oralism, on the other hand, is an approach to teaching that focuses a great deal on auditory training and learning English both as a spoken and written language. Bi-Bi is a better method of teaching deaf children because it supplies the deaf child with a true language background that matches their strictly visual world.Supporters of Oralism claim that teaching speech is appropriate because it will help deaf children to acquire speech, but there is no sufficient data to support this. In order for Oralism to be "successful," the child must begin oral rehabilitation before the critical age for language development occurs, usually around 18 months to 36 months (Solomon 42). During this time, the child goes through extensive auditory training and speech development with no visual stimuli. Oralists say that visual stimuli will only slow down speech acquisition. They believe that children who learn ASL will close themselves off to spoken English because the visual language is easier for them to learn; thus, it will be harder for the child to acquire spoken language in the future. What many Oralists fail to realize is that any effort to teach a profoundly deaf child speech is practically hopeless. One reason is unavoidable: the child cannot hear. When the child fails to acquire decent speech, Oralists also tend to perceive them as failures of language acquisition. In truth, deaf children can acquire a language, ASL.Some people simply refuse to believe that ASL is a complete language that can be used to convey a wide range of intellectual conversations. It can be employed quite efficiently to teach students anything they choose to learn. In France, students learn their Algebra, Physics, Literature, and even Western History in their native tongue. It does not mean that American students who learn these very same subjects are smarter than French students simply because they use English instead of French. Why, then, are deaf children denied access to a language that they are fully capable of acquiring at infancy and forced to learn a language that is unfamiliar to them? Most importantly, the deaf child must develop some form of language...

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