Bilingualism is the ability to know two or more languages. In the Deaf community, bilingualism refers to knowing two languages; first being sign language that is widely used by the Deaf community and the second being oral language which the hearing community uses that can be acquired in written or spoken modality. Growing up bilingual gives a deaf child the ability to develop his social and cognitive capabilities. Every child should have the right to grow up bilingual no matter what degree of hearing loss they may be suffering from.
Why Is Language Important For Your Deaf Child?
A child has a number of things to achieve through language. Language enables a child to:
- Communicate with parents and siblings as soon as he can:
This tends to strengthen the bond between a parent and child in the early years following birth which later enables the deaf child to solidify personal and social ties with family.
- Acquire world knowledge:
Language makes two way communication possible. This communication helps in the exchange of information and gradual increase in the knowledge of any child. A child is able to learn easily and have a better grasp on his concepts later on in school, with the help of all the information and knowledge.
- Become a member of both the worlds:
The child should feel comfortable communicating in both the deaf and the hearing community. For this, the child should be given access to both oral and sign language classes. (Oral language consists of oralism which is the education given to deaf students that mainly focuses on lip reading and mimicking the mouth shapes to be able to communicate with the hearing community).
- Develop cognitive abilities:
For every child’s personal development the presence of language plays a critical role. Language enables the development of cognitive abilities through reasoning, analyzing and memorizing. The absence of language or any kind of impairment in the development of language can cause a serious impact on the development of cognitive abilities.
- Communicate well with the surrounding world:
Apart from exchanging information, language plays an important role in delivering/conveying the right emotions and feelings to everyone around you. If anyone, even a hearing person is unable to convey their message or deliver the right emotion to the person concerned, it results in feelings of frustration.
Knowing more than one language can never have any disadvantage but can only prove to be more beneficial for your child. In the case of deaf children or deaf adults, bilingualism opens the door to many opportunities. Bilingual education for example, facilitates good literacy skills, enable a deaf child to study a wide curriculum and makes them linguistically competent. Bilingualism also creates better social and employment opportunities, improves knowledge about two languages and cultures, makes deaf children better communicators and enables them to think more freely and analyze better when solving problems. This serves as evidence as why deaf children should be bilingual as there is absolutely no reason or no harm to know more than one language.
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