ASL bilingual preschooler writing and typing

The bilingual ASL-speaking preschooler (age 3;10) Juli began practicing her handwriting skill at her preschool. She learned how to handwrite her first name as well as she expressed her interest in writing my name, her father's name, and grandmother's name.

Since that time, she also had developed an interest in learning how to type. She would occasionally (later frequently) came to me and sit on my lap. She requested in ASL (American Sign Language), ix-me want-to type ix-this. I opened the wordpad and enlarged the font size.

Typically, first she asked me to help her type her personal name. I'd fingerspell letter by letter and she typed the letters and checked the screen. When done, she asked me, what your name?. I fingerspelled my name letter by letter while she typed letter by letter.

Then, this task was hard working. She'd relax by "babble-typing" which she would press the key long and watch the letter repeating it non-stop.

A month later at age 3;11, Juli went beyond her personal name. She typed D-O-L-L by herself. I asked her what-do that? ("What's that?"). She produced the signed loan #doll. Earlier that same day, she was reading a word "doll" written on the preschool's daily note. I signed to her #doll.

Another time, she typed "hor" by herself and asked me for help, what horse name?. I helped fingerspell for her, fs-horse letter by letter as she typed letter by letter.

Whole word vs letter-by-letter word

In my observation of her language acquistion, an interesting phenomenon is that she was able to sign ASL words and even fingerspelled loans (as ASL signs, not fingerspelled words) such as #all but fingerspelling a word is the same challenge as writing a word.

For example, a while ago I observed that Juli produced an ASL word/sign #dog but faced a difficult task in fingerspelling D-O-G (somehow the same process as writing a word letter by letter.

preschooler's first written sentence

Juli (age 4;4) wrote her first written sentence in English, "Mom Julianna u love." That is, "I love you, Mom."

preschooler's first written question
The preschooler wrote by herself in the summer (age 4;6).

She often wrote "U" for "you" based on the sound. The letter O in LOVE was missing and the lower case letter E was reversed.

preschool writing

As soon as she wrote the sentence with correct grammar, I taught her to how to spell "you" and explained her in ASL how spoken English may sound a bit different from written English. She eventually wrote "you" correctly.

preschool writing

Now that she learned how to write in English, I introduced her to ASL writing and showed her how to write a sentence in ASL, "IX-ME LOVE YOU."

preschooler's alphabetical letters
Alphabetical letters. Age 4;7.

A month before going to her kindergarten school, she wrote the alphabetical letters by herself. Note that this alphabet is a hearing culture that I rarely taught her the alphabet myself. It came from various sources from ipad to preschool.

At age 4 and half, she sometimes wanted to text her father occasionally on my textphone (cellphone). She typed by herself but sometimes asked me how to spell a certain English word. She even knew the difference between ASL grammar and English grammar.

How I found out was that one day she asked me to spell English words in a sentence while she typed in my textphone to send a message to her father. I fingerspelled letter by letter for each word.

When it came to the "are" part, I decided to skip it and moved to the next word. Juli protested, fingerspelling vaguely like "ASE". What? She repeated a few times before I realized what she fingerspelled. I asked, quickly fingerspelling "ARE?". She nodded.

Fantastic! I was excited about learning that she knew the difference between ASL grammar and English grammar. I fingerspelled, A-R-E, for her.

Related posts

Also see Age 1: recognizing and naming the alphabetical letters

Also see Age 4: learning how to write.

This documentation project follows a baby's language acquisition, literacy development, and phonological acquisition in sign language, specifically ASL, week by week from gazing at birth to manual babbling, to first words just before the first birthday in a natural native-ASL environment and visual culture.

The second-year and third-year documentation continues to follow the same child's language and phonological acquisition and literacy development in ASL on a weekly basis from the one-word stage to two-word and multiple utterances.

The documentary continues to follow the same child's ASL language and literacy development on a regular basis from age three to four. It surveys ASL phonological acquisition and more complex utterances.

These posts on ASL-English bilingualism, language acquisition, and bilingual education may be of an interest for parents who raise a bilingual-bimodal child in ASL (or another signed language) and English (or another written and/or spoken language of its respective) as well as informative and educational for ASL specialists, educators, and professionals.