ASL-speaking One-Grader reading English

Reading English in a book and reading aloud in ASL is an interesting budding process to watch my bilingual child, Juli. ASL and English are two different languages of their own.

bilingual literacy
Image description: a bilingual-bimodal five-year-old girl kept herself busy during the teacher-parent conference.

By the end of September (age 5;8), she began reading books (reading level B) by herself. She no longer read aloud in English glosses in ASL as she used to in the kindergarten year. Eventually, she no longer read aloud but read silently.

By the half of grade 1 (age 5;11), her reading level was visibly blooming. She reguarly read books at either bedtime or daytime. Noticing the type of a book (grade 3 reading level on the back of the book), I told her that if she didn't know a word, just asked me. She never did. I tested her by picking out a big word here and there. She answered in ASL. She knew nearly all words and whenever not, she could understand or sense a meaning in context.

Watching her reading that type of book for several nights next to her, I interrupted her in ASL, (translated as) "Do you know what reading level this book is?" She shook her head. Pointing to the back of the book, my faced indicated, "Look." As she looked at "grade 3 reading level", her face lit up surprised. Her mouth formed 'oo'. I nodded with a smirk. She went back to reading.

kid reading book

Image above: the bilingual ASL-English kid reading another book.

One Sunday, with a few books around, Juli (age 6;4 in grade one) picked up a book, "James and the Giant Peach", and completely read it in two sittings in one half day. She read other books by Dahl and such.

For her 6th Christmas just before her 7th birthday, I called her to my computer and showed her a sample of the Harry Potter book, The Philosopher's Stone to check her reading level before I purchased a whole set. She began reading the first book of the series.

The journey of (sequential) bilingualism shows that ASL doesn't block nor cause language delay in English (as we knew all along the way but many hearing people thought otherwise). ASL was Juli's first language for the first few years before acquiring a second language English. By the time she was in K school, she already mastered English of her age. This bilingual process parallels to children who speak a different language (e.g. French, Spanish, or Chinese) at home in an English-speaking country.

Related posts

Related post: Reading English (grade K).