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Education - Deaf Immigrant Students

When Mom and Dad Don't Speak English


Updated July 04, 2010

American public schools are getting more immigrant students, and thus more deaf students from immigrant families. These students often become trilingual, learning ASL, English, AND the native language of their country. Some of them are fortunate enough to have already attended schools for the deaf in their home countries. Others may have had no education at all and arrive knowing only gestures.

Discussion on Deaf Immigrant Students

The site DeafEd.Net has a discussion forum that is searchable by registered users. A search on "immigrant" turned up messages from educators asking for assistance with teaching deaf immigrant students. Another good forum is on Dave's ESLCafe, with a forum for discussing Teaching English to Deaf Students. The forum seems more geared to teaching adult deaf ESL students, but the information and ideas may be useful for the K-12 level as well.

Articles on Deaf ESL Students

Searching for articles on deaf immigrant students turned up a substantial number of articles and related resources.

Odyssey Magazine Special ESL Issue

In Spring 2000, Odyssey devoted the entire issue to deaf ESL students. This treasure trove, available online, has articles such as:

  • ESL Students - Each an Individual - A teacher writes about her experience teaching fifteen deaf ESL students
  • Assessing the ESL Student - The Clerc Center outlines its procedure for testing new ESL students
Eric Database Articles

A search of the Eric database yielded two articles:

  • Application of Instrumental Enrichment Cognitive Intervention Program with Deaf Immigrant Children from Ethiopia (ED391265)
  • Hispanic Deaf Students in Rural Education Settings: Complex Issues. (ED439875)
Newspaper Articles on Deaf Immigrant Students

Newsday's June 13, 2002 article, "Their First Communication; For some deaf immigrant students, sign language is a revelation," reports on the deaf immigrant experience at Lexington School for the Deaf in New York. The Newsday article notes that for older deaf teenage immigrants, it is a race against the clock because their education is only guaranteed until age 21. Another article, "Immigrant Children Face Barriers to College," from the Wall Street Journal, June 22, 2000, focused on an undocumented deaf immigrant student.

Research on Deaf ESL Students

Gallaudet Research Institute has researched deaf immigrant students. One researcher was Barbara Gerner de Garcia, who had published several documents, including:
  • "Literacy for Latino Deaf and Hard of Hearing English Language Learner:Building the Knowledge Base," a presentation that examined the challenges faced by deaf students in immigrant families.
  • "ESL Applications for hispanic deaf students," from The Bilingual Research Journal, Summer/Fall 1995, pp. 453-467.
  • A downloadable Powerpoint presentation on DeafEd.net, "Preparing teachers for deaf students from linguistically diverse families."
In addition, Amazon.com has downloadable articles such as "Hmong immigrants' views on the education of their deaf and hard of hearing children," from the American Annals of the Deaf, July 31, 2002. Another downloadable document is "Hispanic/Latino Deaf Students in Our Schools," which examines needs of this deaf teen population group; it is available at the Postsecondary Educational Consortium.

Doctoral Theses

Among the doctoral theses done on educating deaf immigrant students is "Teachers' Perceptions of the Academic and Language Needs of Deaf Immigrant Students: An Exploratory Study." It was done in Lamar University's Master's Program in Deaf Studies/Deaf Education, and may be available through University Microfilms International.

Do you teach deaf immigrant students? Talk about it on the forum, and read an interview with a teacher of deaf immigrant students.

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