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).

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.