There’s a nice site in the Netherlands that teachers can use to get ideas for special classes. One of the themes is about gestures and sign language. Mind you, it’s for all children, not just deaf ones. There are great suggestions for each age group: 4-5 6-7 8-9 10-11. It is in Dutch. The author is Ben Verschuren. I tried to contact him at the publisher, but to no avail. If anyone could introduce us, I’d be grateful. The one I like best is for the oldest kids, who are invited to study gestures in art. I just recently started doing that, and I’m age 33. God, I wish my teacher had read this website when I was young.
Gesture 8:2 came out recently. It is a special issue on ‘Gestures in language development’. Amanda Brown, a friend who stayed at the MPI doing PhD research, published a paper on Gesture viewpoint in Japanese and English: Cross-linguistic interactions between two languages in one speaker. Marianne Gullberg, Kees de Bot and Virginia Volterra wrote an introductory chapter ‘Gestures and some key issues in the study of language development‘. Kees de Bot (LinkedIn) is a professor in Groningen working on (second) language acquisition.
Nijntje DVD in Nederlandse Gebarentaal (NGT)
There is a new DVD for kids created and sold bij Nederlands Gebarencentrum with translations or enactments of ten Nijntje stories in NGT.
It is the first of it’s kind in NGT, but similar to this ASL video of Click-clack Moo. In both cases the images of the children’s books animate the story. But in the Nijntje example the ‘storyteller’ dressed up like the Nijntje character. Funny though that may be it seems a bit beside the point. The voice-over in spoken Nijntje DVD’s does not represent the voice of Nijntje but is a storyteller. But here I go again with the sour comments. Stop it! It’s fun and good.
ps. It reminded me of Woof woof way, an ASL DVD where the storyteller dressed up as Paws, the dawg.
I put together a playlist with YouTube movies with babies showing off their signs. Or should I say, mommies showing off their babies? Or their babies’ signs?
The first two videos are posted by a user called SmartHandCA, and constitute the most convincing but at the same time most suspect material. Why is there no real user name?
I know there are companies out there trying to make money by convincing people they should teach their babies to sign. They have everyone claiming it will boost their (language) development, succes in this life, the hereafter and then some.
Now, I am not saying it is definitely the case, merely raising a bit of doubt, but the baby in question may in fact be the child of Deaf parents, or older than the stated 12 months. This is the internet after all. The rest of the babies are all older, already talking as well or just signing ‘more’ or requesting nursing. If my distrust is unfounded then I must admit it is a neat example of a small baby picking up good vocabulary skills for his age.
All in all, it is not very funny to watch, it even got on my nerves after a bit. And, apart from the magical baby from SmartHandsCA, it seems to confirm that ‘more’ and ‘milk’ are the only frequently used signs (see my prior posts on babies signing ‘more milk’, and the fascination with nipples we share with certain apes). But perhaps I am just too biased and skeptical to see the revolution taking place in front of my eyes.
My kids are getting a bit older now, with a daughter of five and a boy of three (but a next one coming up soon). They do not seem to suffer from a lack of baby signing, which I tried half-heartedly but gave up on due to low ROI. I do shout at them a lot, and even throw books if I feel their vocabulary development is getting behind. It doesn’t seem to matter. My daughter’s most treasured words are those she picks up from her friends at school. Not always music to my ears, I must say.