What is the current issue that the IAM3 institute will help the graduate students to address?
For a large number of children in the United States, knowing more than one language is increasingly common. For many children this takes the form of two or more spoken languages, but for those children who are deaf and hard-of-hearing (DHH), their languages are often signed and spoken and therefore structurally different from each other. Much work has yet to be done to understand the process of language acquisition for these unimodal (speech-speech) and bimodal (sign-speech) bilinguals. The way in which English is acquired is likely to be influenced by the modality and typology of the other languages that the child knows. One particular challenge is determining whether a child's acquisition of English is atypical or typical given their school and home language environment. Researchers studying the United States population of DHH children are often equipped to study only one of the child's language modalities, either signed (ASL) or spoken (English and/or Spanish). This may result in underestimating a multilingual child's linguistic abilities, or a failure to detect and intervene when language difficulties emerge.
What is the purpose of the institute?
The purpose of the ASI is to enhance literacy research with the application of translanguaging theory to the methods of language assessment and processing.
How will graduate students be selected and what is the maximum number of seats at the institute?
For two years, 8 U.S. graduate students will be selected to ensure diverse cohorts who have demonstrated an aptitude for scientific research. Students will be selected on the basis of strong academic standing, recommendations from advisors and other faculty, and a clear statement of research interests that demonstrates a strong potential to benefit from the ASI curriculum.
What is translanguaging?
That theoretical framework, translanguaging , has gained significant popularity within Europe in
recent years. Originally defined as an educational device where students alternate languages to develop or reinforce their receptive and productive skills, over time translanguaging has become a framework for wide-ranging discursive practices in which multilingual people can select language features available to them and use them in either spontaneous or strategic way that serves a purpose in their communication contexts (Lewis, Jones and Baker, 2012; Meulder, Kusters, Moriarty and Murray, 2019). Translanguaging emerges as a challenge to theoretical models of bilingualism that propose multilingual people have two or more language systems maintained separately (albeit interacting) in their brains; that dominant languages are privileged over minority languages; and that because people lack certain words and phrases in one language they then use respective words and phrases from another language to express themselves. Instead, translanguaging foregrounds multilingual people’s dynamic language skills and discourse practices that are developed through their individual experiences in the social world; in other words, it looks at how children and adults use their multiple languages successfully in various communication situations (Holmstrom and Schonstrom, 2018; Swanwick, Wright and Salter, 2016).
Importantly, translanguaging is not simply a way of referring to multimodal communication. Whereas multimodality describes communication practices that can be performed through a range of modes, translanguaging describes practices that transcend linguistic boundaries. Furthermore, multimodality is defined by the production/reception channel of the language, whereas translanguaging refers to how an individual uses multiple languages.
What language will be used at the institute?
The majority of instruction will be delivered in American Sign Language by a faculty who are either deaf themselves or who are hearing sign-speech bilinguals. Interpreters will be provided for those who prefer to speak English. However, the interpreters are only available during the business days from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm (not including lunch hours). Any communication interaction before and after the working hours and on weekends will be left to the discretion of the faculty and students.