Learning English From Signed English: An Impossible Task?


A sample of elementary school– and high school–age deaf students in special education programs in the Australian state of Queensland using Australasian Signed English (ASE) took the Test of Syntactic Abilities (Quigley, Steinkamp, Power, & Jones, 1978) and wrote a story in response to a wordless picture sequence. Several analyses of the students' test scores and of the written language of their stories were undertaken. It was found that classroom use of ASE was of benefit to these students in developing English and telling a story in writing, but that there were complex aspects of syntax that required special teaching. The implications for the use of Signed English systems and the teaching of English to deaf students who use Signed English communication are examined.