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Picture of Kalleh
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Being a new grandparent, I get to see all the new fads in raising children. Teaching toddlers sign language is all the rage these days, and, yes, my little granddaughter is using it. While much of what I read about it suggests that using sign language until a baby is able to talk does not delay speech, I am skeptical. My instincts tell me to talk, talk, talk to my little Vivian, and not to use sign language. Any thoughts from my fellow language lovers here?
 
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Baby sign is not a language. And apparently parents have to teach the signs in conjunction with speech. I don't see the problem.
 
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The only sign my parents taught me was to exhibit my middle finger at the most inopportune moments, often when Jehovah' Witnesses ame knocking.


Give a man a fish and he can eat for one day; give a man a fishing pole and he will find an excuse to never work again.
Nollidj is power.
 
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You were OK with Mormons?
 
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I am okay with you, Kalleh. I think it is better to teach sign language like a second language, but not too early as to compete with spoken language. I would much rather expose them to other languages early on, as research shows this does affect the brain, even when it is only heard and not understood.


"Wishing in gladness and in safety, may all beings be at ease." ~from the Metta Sutta
 
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"Baby sign language" is not a sign language! It's a "way of encouraging babies to communicate with their hands." It has no linguistic structure. It can't compete with the language the child is acquiring; in fact it is taught in conjunction with the language the child is acquiring.
http://www.parentingscience.co...y-sign-language.html
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Kalleh:
While much of what I read


I do not like this article. Actually I'm not sure now. It is about teaching ASL to children who have speech delays. This is not the same thing as "baby sign language" at all.
 
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Reading it again, I don't understand this article.

"Baby sign language", as I understand it, is encouraging your child to communicate their needs thru gestures. That's fine.

But in this article, the author is claiming that teaching sign language to your child, whether or not they are developmentally delayed, can improve their language skills. She cites a study that "that learning sign language could actually improve cognition (intelligence) in typically-developing, hearing children." In that study children attended a sign language class for two years.

But she doesn't say that your child should spend two years learning ASL in a class, she says parents should simply memorize a bunch of ASL words and try to teach them to their child (unless I am missing something). Don't worry about getting all the signs right, she says.

quote:

Don’t get stressed about making sure you’re doing “baby sign language” as opposed to “American Sign Language”. The only difference between the two is that “baby sign language” modifies some of the ASL signs to be easier for babies to do.


No, the difference is that ASL is a language, and her "baby sign language" is a bunch of words. She is telling parents to teach their child words in a language that the parent does not actually know. Maybe there's nothing wrong with this. It sounds a lot like "baby sign language" as I defined it above. But I am skeptical that it is going to improve the child's language skills.
 
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I don't think most parents feel baby signing will improve language skills. I admit I didn't link to the most scholarly article on it. You are right; this one is mostly opinion, as were most that I could find. I think, if I want to get into it with more depth, I'll have to use a database, such as medline, and look at the research behind it.

I am told by my daughter and her peers with babies that it allows young children to communicate before they can talk. Therefore, babies won't be so frustrated. It all makes sense - except, I think it takes the focus away from words and language to gestures, or whatever you want to call them. I don't feel comfortable with it. I suspect it's a fad and in a few years we'll read that it was the wrong thing to do, just as we now know it's wrong to potty train babies at 15 months (I recently read that in my old, old, baby book).

At any rate, I don't sign with Vivian, though her parents do. I just wondered about others' views.
 
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My friend who used to work in infant development tells me that 20 years ago she encouraged parents to use gestures if they wanted to because it would help the child be less frustrated. There was no evidence that it delayed language skills.

And again, since it is not a language, I would need to see some evidence before I believe that it will delay or improve language skills.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: goofy,
 
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Agreed, Goofy. Of course I realize it's not a language, though it is called baby sign language in the U.S., as technically wrong as that may be.

I am glad you say that you want to see the evidence either way. While I am a scientist at heart, I sometimes get annoyed when people say there is "no evidence" for something that they don't want. A great example is when it comes to advanced practice nurses having residencies. Some of us think it just makes sense - they will be practicing independently and need some support in getting started. But, I hear, "Where is the evidence???" Of course the concern is cost. It irks me so when people use "where is the evidence?" for political reasons.
 
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But there is such a thing as burden of proof. For baby sign language, I think it's reasonable to say, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, that it doesn't delay language acquisition. I have no idea about residencies for nurses.
 
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Yes, I agree, there is the need for evidence with baby signing as it is all the rage now. I have not found any rigorous studies on it, merely opinions. But of course that doesn't mean there aren't any.
 
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