This paper examines the meaning of plurality and diversity with respect to deaf children’s sign and spoken language exposure and repertoire within a super diverse context. Data is drawn from a small-scale project that took place in the North of England in a Local Authority (LA) site for deaf education. The project documented the language landscape of this site and gathered five individual case studies of deaf children to examine their plural and diverse language practices at home and at school. Analysis of the language landscape and case studies from this context is undertaken in order to define and exemplify deaf children’s language plurality and diversity in terms of context and individual experience. Concepts of repertoire are explored with particular reference to the unique type of translanguaging that the plural use of sign and spoken languages affords. Implications of these preliminary insights are discussed in terms of the development of methodologies that are sensitive to the particular translanguaging practices of deaf children, and approaches to pedagogy that are appropriately nuanced and responsive to deaf children’s language plurality and diversity.
Funding statement: Funding: This project was supported by the British Academy under Grant number MD130070. No financial benefits have arisen from this research and there are no conflicts of interest.
We would like to thank all the children and their and the families; the school and deaf education service staff for participating in this study. Thank you also to Ausra Raulusonyte and Samyia Ambreen for help with the Punjabi, Urdu and Lithuanian transcripts.
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Appendix 1: Language landscape protocol
1 Government census information
Size of population
Comparison to other Local Authorities
Breakdown of population by gender and age groups
Nationalities within the population
Ethnicities within the population
Dominant languages used by residents
Household languages used within the population and how proficient residents are at English
2 Local authority deaf education caseload population
Numbers of children (0–19) on the caseload
Age ranges (as numbers and a percentage)
Level of deafness (as numbers and a percentage)
Numbers of children with CIs
Number of children in mainstream, resourced provision, Schools for the Deaf
Ethnicity and nationality within the caseload
Languages used within the caseload including sign languages
Appendix 2: Case studies protocol
1 Information from teacher’s written reports on individual pupils
Educational background and management: Experience of pre-school support and school placement
Individual language resources: Repertoire of expressive and receptive sign and spoken language skills
Contexts of language use: Language exposure and use at home, school and other settings
Language assessment information: Measures, tools and protocols used to assess children’s language development
Individual language assessment data and reports
Language learning trajectory: Target areas for receptive and expressive language development
2 Teacher interview
Languages used by children and adults in your school.
Languages the child is exposed to in school in different contexts.
Languages that the child uses in school in different contexts.
3 Parent interview
The languages that you and your family use at home.
Who uses these languages, and when?
Languages that your child uses at home.
4 Child interview
Languages that your family use at home.
Who uses these languages, and when
Languages that you use at home.
Languages that you use in school.
The child in different situations in the school context (small group, shared reading; mainstream classroom; lunchtime, playtime)
The child in conversation with parent(s) about a school or home activity.
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