ASL-speaking Kinder learning to write English

This post shows how the bilingual kid (age 4-5) acquires two languages (Ameslan and English) and develops her writing skills in English during the kindergarten year.

The year before, three year old bilingual Juli expressed her interest in learning how to type on my laptop in addition to writing. She asked me by signing the ASL sign how to spell an English word. She'd play with letters on the screen sometimes.

Note: All conversations between the kid and myself take in American Sign Language (ASL or Ameslan) only 24/7 since birth. Any English quotes in my posts are the translation from ASL.

preschooler's first written question
The Kinder's first written question.

Juli (age 4;9) drew and wrote something while I did my work. She showed me the image above. Wondering about the last sentence (a question, I suspected), I asked about "R". After she explained, I asked in ASL, "Are you asking the question, 'do you love me?'". She nodded to confirm that she asked a question in writing.

Like "U" that she used for "YOU" in her earliest sentence, "I love you". She used "R" for "ARE" (unlike the recent time when she fingerspelled three blurred letters for ARE above). She related her sound to writing.

Not a single time, I've never taught her spoken English grammar nor vocal English prior to the emergence of her writing. I speak ASL solely with her and teach her how to spell English words sometimes.

preschooler's first written question
The kinder's another written sentence. Age 4;9.

Now that she began to write more different sentences. One day, she independently worked on her paper. She asked me how to spell CANNOT (signed ASL). I spelt for her, C-A-N-N-O-T. Then she did the rest of work by herself. Then she signed, WHAT SPELLING AND?. I spelled A-N-D.

Prior to her emerging writing skills, I had no idea what her spoken English had been like. From here on, her writing was unveiling.

For her homework from her kindergarten, she was learning how to write English words that start with H.

kinder writing a sentence
The Kinder's another written sentence. Age 5;0.

As she turned five, she finally, she wrote something new beyond the usual loving, sweet sentence "I love you, mom" after a long months. She handed me another surprise. A note with "YOU R BAS MOM". I fingerspelled "BAS" and asked her in ASL, (translated as) "What's that?" She replied in ASL, "BEST!" Oh! So it's "You are the best mom."

I showed her the right fingerspelling "BEST". Next day or two, she drew and wrote another card with the right spelling! (At this time of writing, a note is misplaced." At other times, she wrote "bast" for "best".

The kingergarten Juli's wrote her first English sentence "I love you" age age 4 and she had been writing it for a long time since then. Occasionally, she'd written something else.

kid writing happy valentine
The Kinder's another written sentence. Age 5;1.

In February, the kid wrote "Happy Valentine" all by herself, producing it as "hape valtam" without asking any of my help. Another time, she wrote the very same and again. Trice, she wrote the same spellings. Adorable.

Enjoying her numerous handmade cards and "I love you" expressions, these are my best moments of the years. I knew this was the beginning time that she was about to go beyond love.

kid writing a story
The Kinder writing a story. Age 5;1.

Again in February, the kid surprised me another thing. She wrote a short story all by herself, called the "Bear Family". She asked me to read aloud in ASL and then corrected me because I told a different story. For example, the word "hi" should be "he".

All right, I pointed to each word and asked her what it was. Then I wrote down the correct English words for her. As we went through, I learned that the right side is the first page and the left side the second page, not the way around. Unfortunately, she forgot what the last few words of the first page (right side) were so we made guesses.

Here is the translation of her writing: "One day, a little bear wants (to) go for a walk [w pets]. He loves to play. He loves his family." It is easy to read the second page (left side): "hi love to pla. hi love hie famie."

kid writing a story

The kid (age 5;5) wrote an invitation card for a friend by herself one day during the summer.

kid writing a story

One day during the summer at home, the kid (age 5;7) drew an abstract picture and wrote a sentence "I make many pictures" by herself.

Related posts

Also see Age 3: the emergence of writing and typing; Age 5: writing English.

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.