The linguistic competence of deaf primary school children

Griffiths, Amanda (1983) The linguistic competence of deaf primary school children. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Observation of deaf children in conversation with their teachers might lead one to believe they are behaving in a somewhat contrived way in comparison with their behaviour when communicating with their peers. Examination of the performance of deaf and hearing children on various reading tests has shown the deaf to be pursuing markedly different strategies from the hearing (e.g. word association). Such observations lead us to ask, is the linguistic behaviour of these children then simply a selection of 'special tricks' developed to cope with everyday demands? Or, if various measures of their language intercorrelate, can we assume the existence of a unitary linguistic competence?

To answer this question and to investigate the validity of the measures chosen, a group of 50 profoundly deaf children from two schools for the deaf were studied (where necessary using, videorecordings) in 4 situations. These were a) in conversation with their teachers, b) in a referential communication game with their peers, c) their performance on the Edinburgh Reading Test and d) their writing. Since degree of hearing loss, age, sex and intelligence have been shown to be influential, we included these together with teacher ratings of oral proficiency, general ability, attitude to school, written ability and speech intelligibility. The results showed all language measures intercorrelated with varying degrees of significance. Multiple regression analysis showed that the -main measure taken from the conversation with teachers (namely, average length of turn) proved to be the most powerful predictor of reading. Written syntactic accuracy was the second most powerful predictor. Since reliable measures of deaf children's linguistic abilities are badly needed (especially in the wake of recent legislation advocating the education of deaf children in ordinary schools) the potential use of these measures is discussed. Since these language abilities are good predictors of each other, future research might investigate the possibility that concentrated teaching in one area of language use could have positive effects on other linguistic abilities.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Wood, David
Keywords: Deaf children, education, reading, language
Subjects: H Social sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Science > School of Psychology
Item ID: 11347
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 09 Jun 2010 13:51
Last Modified: 19 Oct 2017 19:45

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