Bilingual education: is it feasible in deaf education?

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Title: Bilingual education: is it feasible in deaf education?
Author: Himmelsbach, Kristina
Abstract: Bilingual/Bicultural programs are being implemented across the United States with varying degrees of effectiveness. Much of the research documenting the success and failures of such programs are performed in a typical mainstream program where English is the target language. Despite the fact that there are limited studies done in residential schools for the Deaf and hard of hearing, bilingual/bicultural programs are strongly advocated for such settings based on the success of the studies done in the mainstream programs. Due to the fact that bilingual programs do not necessarily mean that there is a bicultural component and that a bicultural program does not necessarily mean there is a bilingual component, the focus of this paper is solely on the effectiveness of bilingual educational'programs. Through a literature review on bilingual education programs in both hearing mainstream programs and residential schools for the deaf, I found that bilingual education programs can be additive or subtractive and that when additive, they are effective. The elements that ensure successful implementation include a teacher who is proficient in both languages, the student is proficient in their first language and that their first language is understood and used in the home by all members of the family. Many ofthese elements are not found in the residential schools for the deaf and therefore it would indicate that more research is needed on the effectiveness of bilingual education programs in Deaf education. The current research findings cannot be used to support the implementation of bilingual education programs in Deaf educational settings due to the fact that the dynamics are completely different.
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Date: 2005-09-08

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