Sign language and oral/written language in Deaf education in China

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This chapter deals with Chinese Sign Language (CSL)/Chinese bilingual experiences of deaf children and adults in Mainland China, investigated on the basis of interviews, a questionnaire survey, school observations and teachers’ publications. The historical review of deaf education in China provides important insights into the use of sign language and oral/written Chinese in the educational context since the establishment of the first deaf school in China, and reveals that different periods in deaf education can be distinguished regarding the status assigned to sign language at a given time. The various paths to sign bilingualism in China become apparent in deaf individuals’ testimonies about their schooling and language acquisition. Furthermore, the analysis of the outcome of language contact between CSL and Chinese (in spoken, written and signed forms) provides further insights into the interaction of the different languages and communication systems that can be usefully exploited in the educational context. The chapter concludes with a discussion of current bilingual-bicultural pilot programs for profoundly deaf children in schools for the deaf in China.


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