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Conversational interactions between young deaf children and their families in homes where English is not the first language

Mahon, Hadassa Merle; (1997) Conversational interactions between young deaf children and their families in homes where English is not the first language. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Conversations between children and their carers are considered to have a major impact on how children learn to speak and to understand the speech of others. Such conversations can be problematic for prelingually deaf children and their carers, affecting the language learning/teaching process. This study concerned the investigation of spoken interactions between deaf children and their carers, at home, where the first language is Sylheti (a dialect of Bengali), and English is the second language. Interactions were recorded betweem eight pairs of children and their carers. These were 7-year old prelingually deaf children, from Sylheti families and from English families; and normally hearing children (7 year olds, and younger) from Sylheti families and from English families. Selected sets of the data were analysed using the procedures of Conversation Analysis (Drew (1990); Clayman and Maynard (1995)). Broad comparisons of the data sets were made with respect to factors such as the age and language ability of the children; whether they were deaf or normally hearing; whether English was their first or their second language and whether or not the participants in the talk spoke the same language. Included in the findings are descriptions of the question-answer sequences which characterised the talk, showing that irrespective of which language was spoken in the interaction, there were similarities between all the deaf children and the younger normally hearing children, but not between the deaf children and the same age normally hearing children. A striking finding was the fact that all of the children and their carers spoke the same language in the interactions, except for conversations between Sylheti deaf children and their mothers, where the deaf children spoke English while their mothers spoke Sylheti. The analysis indicated that in these conversations, potential problem areas, such as misunderstandings not being resolved, were evident. Unresolved misunderstandings were not observed to the same extent in conversations between any of the other dyads. The implication of this finding is that in these crucial interactions, important opportunities for language teaching and learning could be missed, creating a language learning environment which is different from that of normally hearing children and which may not represent optimal language learning opportunities for the deaf child. The systematic and explicit characterisation of the phenomena described in this study has addressed the need for detailed descriptions of children's conversations with their carers expressed in the literature (Snow 1994), and will contribute to the body of knowledge to which professionals, such as speech and language therapists and teachers of the deaf, can refer when considering critical issues in early intervention such as counselling parents about fostering language development. The study also demonstrates that CA is a powerful tool for the study of talk involving a participant who has a communication disability.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Conversational interactions between young deaf children and their families in homes where English is not the first language
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10105176
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