Literacy in American Sign Language (age 4-5)

Note that the capital letters are glosses or transliteration of ASL, not a translation of English.

iPad literacy

One early morning, Juli (age 4;2) felt a sense of a great accomlishment for something she did without my presence.

Juli: HEY, LOOK-IX(ipad).
Mom: HMM (nodding).
J: (seeing that I didn't get it, she explained) ME BUY IX NEW :) ME CL-PRESS RIGHT NUMBER :) ("I bought this new [app]. I pressed the right numbers!")
Mom (thinking Juli must have had a lucky guess of the right number access unless she understood numbers and their corresponding English words) NO, YOU DOWNLOAD THAT FREE (correcting her).


One of her favorite bedtime books was "Mommy, do you love me?" by Jeanne Willis. Juli felt full of joy and love at the end of storytelling.

The video shows the mother and the little girl reading the book and translating into ASL.

That week, inspired by the book, Juli played outside and came up a "If I (do that/this)... do you love me?" in American Sign Language. She used a wh-wiggle question.

For the whole three weeks during the spring term (May) where I had to go to work (teaching ASL class) before Juli went to her preschool. Every morning, Juli gave me abundance of love, hugs, kisses, loving long farewell and all. mommy, i always love you. ILY-bye. (hug) i will miss you. bye. you have good day ix work. i love you. ILY-bye. (kiss) you come-here fast #ok? bye. ILY-bye.

Read and write word stage

A month after the first day of the preschooler Juli's kindergarten school, she (age 4;8) began to fingerspell and write English words more. A noticeable beginning of the boom beyond "I LOVE YOU" -- a sentence that she wrote herself often prior to.

Whenever I offer to fingerspell an alphetical letter of a word, she would often stop me, IX-me KNOW+++!. She didn't want my help, but sometimes she had to.

The words that Juli fingerspelled to me by herself to show off her knowledge during this month of September, for example, are: CAR, CAT, DOG,

In the meanwhile, the words and phrases that Juli had written or typed on a cellphone (texting to her loved ones) or on a computer (email) are: IF YOU (then asked me to help fingerspell the rest of a sentence IF YOU HAVE [NAME] :) :)), ROSKTS (handwritten for "rocket"), and many that she surprised me.

On the reading part, Juli saw a picture with the subtitle "meerkats" in a book. She joked by signing MIRROR CAT. How did she know? Did she actually read the word or recognize the picture associated with the sound of a word? Or both -- recognize the word and sound? I had no idea, but she was correct that it was 'meerkats'.

Comptuer literacy

First, Juli learned the tricks to get into YouTube via apps (loophole) on ipad at age 2 (I think). I turned off Wifi connection before handing the ipad to her. It was a very important secret that I guarded it that she must not accidentally looked at how I did.

At age 3, Juli expressed her interest in learning how to type in a notepad on my laptop. At age 4, she discovered a new interest: typing a word into the Google Search and seeing the results, especially the images. Eventually, she discovered a way to get into YouTube by typing "PIG" in the Google Search and clicking on one of the images which led to YouTube videos. From there, I no longer let her entertain on my laptop. In the meanwhile, she also discovered how to turn wifi on in our ipad, which was then off her toy list.

Related posts

Also see Literacy: talking about dreams in sign language.

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.