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The Effects of Discourse Genre on English Language Complexity in School-Age Deaf Students

Brenda Schick
Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education
Vol. 2, No. 4 (Fall 1997), pp. 234-251
Published by: Oxford University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23805387
Page Count: 18
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The Effects of Discourse Genre on English Language Complexity in School-Age Deaf Students
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Abstract

This study explored the effects of discourse genre on the complexity of English language produced by school-age deaf students. Subjects were 13 profoundly deaf students, ages 7;1 to 14;8, who had been educated using only an English-based sign system in public schools. Language samples were elicited in three conditions: a traditional spontaneous interaction, a narrative elicitation using pictures, and an interview in which the examiner asked cognitively and linguistically challenging questions. The results show that students produced the most complex English language during the interview, as measured by the use of embedded clauses, conjunctions, and modals. In contrast to previous studies, utterance length in this one did not vary as a function of sample type, likely because segmentation of the samples was based on the T-unit, not sentences. The results have implications for language sampling with school-age students. both in terms of efficacy and ecological validity.

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