I am writing this as Teacher of the Deaf in Charge of the Hearing Support Facility at Bevendean Primary School in Brighton. Our school have been part of the Talk For Writing (TFW) project this year. It is the first time I have used TFW with the deaf children I teach. However, I have always taught in a very interactive way, igniting imagination and desire to write. TFW has given a new, innovative structure to this teaching method.
The children I teach are very language deprived and significantly language delayed. I have been so excited by the way they have progressed using the TFW model. The structure of the models gives confidence and skills. The opportunities for over learning in an exciting and imaginative way, reinforce and build upon these skills, which is exactly what is required for the pupils to progress and reach their potential.
As I am new to TFW, I am still developing my own skills and gaining confidence as I go through each project. I am learning the huge benefits for deaf and language delayed children, but also certain aspects that require a higher level of adaptation for my own cohort. I believe that a conference for the use of TFW with statemented and SEN children would be of great benefit.
My cohort this year, is group of profoundly deaf Year 2 and 3 children. They are in a special facility for deaf children, and this is because they are unable to access the curriculum in their mainstream schools. They are taught in a group of 6/7 children for English each day. I am writing a case study on 2 children, both of whom are profoundly deaf, have bi lateral cochlear implants, are ESL and have a language age significantly behind their hearing peers.
Aklima is in Year 3. She has a very severe language delay, so that at the age of 8Yrs, her expressive and receptive language is about 4.5Yrs. At home, her parents speak to her in Bengali, and she has siblings who communicate in British Sign Language. She has average cognitive skills. Hanna is in Year 2. She is a very young summer born child. She is profoundly deaf, and arrived in England a year ago. She speaks Hungarian at home. She was in a mainstream school, but making no progress, and therefore transferred to our special facility. Her cognitive level is above average.
Levels in July 2014
Aklima – Low Level 1A.
However, when Aklima came back in September, she had regressed below this level, as many do after the long summer holiday.
Hanna – 1B
The program and input for each child is very individualised. During carpet time, the children are given many opportunities to rehearse and practise orally, and have high level input during short burst tasks. Due to the size of the group, we have the advantage of being able to use guided reading and writing during most sessions, unless the child is asked to work independently, as during a hot task. There is a lot of sentence planning before writing, and focus on maintaining interest for a reader. I have written a brief outline of the 3 projects we have covered this year. In between TFW projects there have been mini projects on poetry, Christmas stories and deaf awareness.
The progress is evident when looking at the work produced. However, the syntax is still very immature, and in some cases deviant. Tenses are mixed and there is poor use of plurals. There is also immature use of pronouns, articles, prepositions, verbs and adjectives. These are all typical challenges for deaf children with language delay, and they will reflect the spoken language of the child. This is why the imitation phase is so useful in terms of providing language models to inform the child’s overall language development. There are times when it is evident that the model chosen is too far ahead of the child’s own language, and at these times it is important that adaptations are made for individuals.