Receptive and Expressive English skills through reading, writing, speaking, and listening are promoted at ASD as a part of the developmental bilingual program. ASL can be leveraged to build English competence. By doing this, the teachers will be expected to support the students’ English skills and bilingualism by comparing, contrasting, and analyzing structure of ASL and English, supporting the development of English vocabulary word knowledge through the use of fingerspelling, and building interactional skills through the use of ASL and English (e.g. through emailing, signing, speaking, texting, and writing). English vocabulary development across the curriculum is a large part of ensuring success for our students and we believe that in addition to the definition and use of vocabulary, they will also be learning how to use them in content including writing and speaking.
Speech/Language Services for our students are determined by a student’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Speech-Language Pathologists (SLP) use a variety of strategies to support development in both languages. They also work to keep ASL and English separate based upon the purpose or objective of an activity and the needs of the student. Various models for access are utilized to support students needing these services. These models include ‘pull out’ (students go individually or in small groups to an alternate location) or ‘push in’ (students remain in regular classroom with the SLP supporting them through classroom activities).
To maximize our students’ abilities in speaking and listening in English, those who have assistive listening devices are supported (as indicated in the students’ IEPs) by all our staff. Parents work with ASD staff in making sure students bring their assistive listening devices to school, and use them. This is a partnership that often requires maintenance by Local Education Authorities and families to ensure maximum benefit from devices.
The students will learn various tools in communicating with people whose primary language is English, and that includes listening, speaking, and writing. We will work to assist them with these skills as a natural part of vocabulary building in all settings, and this is the responsibility of all teachers and staff including the SLPs.
Phonological Awareness is a research-based critical element of reading fluency. At ASD we use “Visual Phonics” during reading/English time as a part of our instruction. We plan to provide training on utilizing these strategies for teachers in the elementary grades to help provide our students with some of the basic building blocks of letter sounds, syllables, and the like that are critical for reading. This training will provide a stronger foundation for reading comprehension and fluency as students grow.
Two of the most important elements of teaching our students to become successful bilingual students are metacognitive and metalinguistic awareness. These elements are gained by learning that both languages are used in purposeful ways throughout their day. The teachers and administrators at ASD are committed to developing and creating lessons and activities that provide opportunities for our students to use both ASL and English in a meaningful way, and raise their metacognitive and metalinguistic awareness to understand the relationship and value of each language. This will ultimately benefit the students’ ability to access content and improve individual outcomes for each student over time.
Relative to Language Planning with listening, speaking, reading and writing English, teachers will:
- Plan deliberately to incorporate exploration and practice of skills related to printed and spoken English or the understanding of printed and spoken English.
- Be attentive to all possible English language abilities (listening, speaking, finger reading, fingerspelling, writing, reading and keyboarding) and make sure that all are addressed throughout each curriculum unit.
- Model and explain elements of the English Language such as phonemic and phonological awareness, active listening when introducing vocabulary, and reading or writing with students.
- Use fingerspelling and signing in ASL to support these instructions. This deliberate planned exposure to the English language and providing links to things they already know will improve the students’ ability to generalize skills, and use and understand vocabulary.