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Title: Opportunities for participation : sign language use with hearing children in an early years classroom
Author: Brereton, A. E.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2006
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The teaching of sign language to young hearing children has continued to grow in popularity in the United States during the past ten years. The literature suggests that hearing children who learn sign language during their formative years have a linguistic advantage. Sign language has been promoted as helping children identified as having certain special educational needs to improve their language and literacy skills. A review of the literature relating to the use of sign language with young, hearing children seems to indicate that sign language instruction is potentially beneficial for children with and without special needs. However, the literature does not address the effects that learning sign language as a whole class strategy has on children’s participation in school. The research discussed in this thesis sought to understand how the use of sign language in an early years’ classroom affected the participation of students in the classroom. The ways in which children who seemed to find participation difficult was a focus during this study. The study also explored the feasibility of implementing sign language use into the curriculum of an early years setting where the teachers and students had little or no prior knowledge of sign language. This is an important issue to consider since teachers are not likely to use new strategies that are costly or difficult to use. The field work for this study, spanning an entire school year, took place in a United States preschool. The same teaching staff taught two classes of children. One class met in the morning while the other met in the afternoon. Sign language was used with the morning class but not with the afternoon class. Data relating to participation was collected in both classes primarily through participant observation and informal interviews. Analysis was ongoing. Coding and writing were the major analysis tools used to describe and interpret data.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available