Deaf Children in Swedish Kindergartens

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(Contributed by Christian Vogler at 18 Nov 1995.)

The following question was asked:

So during this time of language acquisition, while the child is learning the language, and the parents, and other members of the household are learning the language, language delay is accepted. How is this different than the acceptance of English language delay in young oral children?


This is precisely the reason why young children go to kindergarten or pre- school in Sweden. While the parents are learning sign language, the deaf children of hearing parents pick up sign language from deaf children with Deaf parents.

There was an interesting report by Inger Ahlgren about 1 1/2 years ago. They had videotaped the deaf children and shown them to Deaf adults who were native signers, and asked them to tell whether the children had hearing or deaf parents. When the children were about 4 years old, these Deaf adults could not tell the difference. It had vanished completely, that is the deaf children of hearing parents had caught up.

I think, there are three conclusions to be drawn from this:

  1. Early language exposure is important.
  2. The langauge learning capabilities of children should not be underestimated.
  3. There will be no delayed language acquisition for deaf children of hearing parents if the children are properly raised.

Furthermore, it is a common observation that children learn correct language use even if their primary role models make mistakes in morphology and syntax.

Last update date: 
2005 Nov 29