There is much research that has been done to find out how to develop reading in children with hearing problems, since it is an essential element in the education of deaf children due to its importance in language development. Learn how a deaf child learns to read and how you can help him.
When a person learns to read, he does so from an oral language that he has already acquired by hearing. In this way, you associate the shapes printed on the pages with words, sounds and mental representations that you already have included in your repertoire: you already know what the word you are reading sounds like and what it means. However, deaf people do not have that basis, which, on many occasions, causes problems in reading learning.
People who work with the deaf must learn how to read to them, as well as the basics of how sign language and written language work.
Books should be used from a very young age:
- First you must know the content of the story.
- Then it is narrated in sign language.
- The images and written text are shown so that they understand that text equals meaning, and that letter carries meaning.
The absence of this activity before entering school implies that when a book is presented to them for the first time, It will be the same as if a text in Japanese was shown to a Spanish hearing child.
For the deaf, the way to learn the language of the society in which they live is a text, since it communicates something and the mediator must show them what it communicates.
- It is important that the deaf child accesses the written language to develop the word-meaning relationship that is to say, their linguistic input in the second language, and this is achieved through writing, since the spoken language, being an auditory language, is not significant for them. Before entering the world of literacy, the child guesses what is in the written language, “reads pictures”.
- When you start to read a text you must necessarily be with a mediator (teacher or other) who translates into sign language, which will allow the child to take the same text home to try to read it and discover what it says, and when they return to the mediator, each of them will have found different things. The word isolated from the context has no meaning, it must be accompanied by the experience of seeing, smelling, tasting, feeling to associate it with a relevant meaning, what is valid for normal children is even more important in the case of hearing impairment.
- A hearing child develops his linguistic competence through sounds (sound - letter - word - meaning), when decomposing the code he translates letter to sound and finds the lexical component. On the other hand, the same cannot be expected from a deaf child and for this reason it cannot be taught in the same way as the hearing child, since I would only learn the sound-word correspondence but I would not understand the meaning that it has.
- The deaf person sees words on paper and visually builds the context. The text is worked on as a whole. Importance must be given to the global meaning, if a word-for-word translation (word - sign) is made, the meaning of the text is lost.
- When reading the deaf child presents different difficulties to hearing children, he can confuse one word with another if they are visually similar but he can tell if he understands it within the context. A deaf child who is a regular reader will not have these problems, the teacher will mark the differences, show them the different meaning of each one of them. In this way, the reading is: content, so you should not find a meaning for each word or its sound, otherwise you only get to the superficial part of the text.
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