This talk presents results from a study (Schönström, 2010) that concerns the bilingual development of Swedish school-aged deaf children in Swedish Sign Language (SSL) and written Swedish. More precisely, the development of Swedish as an L2 in school-aged deaf children is investigated as well as the interdependence between Swedish (L2) and SSL (L1) proficiencies.
The study is cross-sectional and contains data from up to 38 informants. All informants are from a school for the deaf and hearing-impaired (grades 5 and 10). Data is based on 1) retellings in written Swedish, and 2) videotaped free stories in SSL.
For the analysis of the written Swedish data, Processability Theory (PT) (Pienemann, 1998) was applied as theory and method. As PT has never before been applied to deaf L2 learners, this presents us with the important issue of whether it is possible to apply this theory to deaf L2 learners. For the analysis of the interdependence between Swedish and SSL, narrative skills of SSL texts were compared with the PT skills of Swedish texts.
The results from the Swedish part of the study show that there is an implicational order in the informants’ development of Swedish following the predicted grammatical learning order as described by PT. It therefore suggests that PT is applicable also to deaf L2 learners of Swedish. Regarding the analysis of interdependence between the two languages, among other things, it shows that analyzing SSL skills is not always unproblematic. Despite this, the results show that there is a correlation between the proficiency in SSL and Swedish in the deaf learners, supporting earlier findings in the area (Strong & Prinz, 2000, Chamberlain & Mayberry, 2008).
EuroSLA 21, 21st Annual Conference of the European Second Language Association, Stockholm, 8-10 September 2011