Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

d/Deaf and Hard of Hearing Learners: DML, DLL, ELL, EL, ESL ... or Culturally and Linguistically Diverse

Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

d/Deaf and Hard of Hearing Learners: DML, DLL, ELL, EL, ESL ... or Culturally and Linguistically Diverse

Article excerpt

This Spring 2016 issue of the Annals is the second in a twopart special issue on d/Deaf and hard of hearing (d/Dhh) individuals with diverse characteristics, edited by Joanna Cannon and Caroline Guardino. The present issue's editors and contributors seem to prefer the label DML, or d/Deaf and Hard of Hearing Multilingual Learners, as one that is becoming more applicable to the education of an increasing number of d/Dhh students in America. From one perspective, the label DML is representative of students in American schools for whom English is not the primary or home language. In essence, these students and families might have immigrated to the United States and, thus, are in multilingual situations (see, e.g., the discussion in Cannon & Guardino, 2012).

As noted by Cannon, Guardino, and Gallimore (this issue), this broad cohort of students represents one of the fastest-growing groups in schools. As was the case for Part I of this special issue (Guardino & Cannon, 2015), a few of the major domains discussed in Part II are definitions and characteristics (Cannon, Guardino, & Gallimore; Pizzo); early intervention and the transition to preschool (Bowen); various aspects of communication, language, and culture (Baker & Scott; Pizzo; Q. Wang, Andrews, H. T. Liu, & C. J. Liu); assessment (Pizzo & Chilvers); and teacher preparation (Cannon & Luckner).

Per my propensity, I select and expound on a few areas of personal interest in this editorial, albeit this approach cannot do justice to the nuanced, detailed treatments proffered by the contributors. Let the reader be reminded-and repeated reminders are necessary-that any discussion of a topic in our field is filtered through my mental framework(s) associated with one of my few broad domains of research interest-English literacy. Although this focus might be characterized as limited, myopic, or narrow-minded by other scholars interested in examining and developing effective educational programs for DMLs, I am not above the need for cognitive contamination (Berger & Zijderveld, 2009). Nevertheless, regardless of the contents of academic debates, I cannot shake off the conviction that all roads must lead to the acquisition and development of English, at least in the education of all students in the United States, including those who are DMLs. If this trip is to be successful, then theorists, researchers, and educators need to be aware of the complex linguistic, cognitive, and sociocultural needs of children who are attempting to learn English as a first or second language, or even one of several languages.

The Persistent Terminology Riddle

If you thought that the definition/terminology issue was nothing short of a nightmare in Part I of this special issue, then you should experience countless sleepless nights after reading Part II (see, e.g., Cannon & Guardino; Cannon et al.; Pizzo). Perhaps we can sweep the term English Language Learner (ELL) or English as a Second Language (ESL) learner under the rug-especially if it is agreed that these terms are archaic and do not reflect the range of needs of learners beyond the learning of English. However, do not be surprised if ELL or ESL continues to emerge into full view every now and then in the research literature, or even during face-to-face academic dialogues. English may indeed be the second language for a growing number of students in America (see, e.g., Baker & Scott), or it could also be the third language (and so on) for a number of students-nevertheless, the acquisition of English and its subsequent effects on academic achievement and transitions into postsecondary or work-force avenues in the United States is or should be front and center.

It might be more reflective of the current situation if we settle on DML, DLL (Dual Language Learner), or EL (English Learner). One or more of the above labels might be most appropriate, assuming that we have a clear picture of proficiency in a language or languages in the home and at school (which we do not). …

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