Bilingual Families

from a text chat on Friday, April 17, 2009
and also sign language for the deaf was discussed

More than one language in the home
What have families done when parents speak different languages? What are advantages and disadvantages of a bilingual home?
NOTE: Many typos and abbreviations were left. A few were fixed. These abbreviations will help some of our readers:
dh=husband (dear husband)
dd=daughter (dear daughter)
ds=son (dear son)
For example: "I speak English to dd, dh speaks German to dd, but dh and I speak French to each other. dd doesn't understand as much French..."

hbonda (Hema): Hello... sorry i'm early... dh is stuck in traffic.... raghu is watching harry potter for the first time and Z wants to chat /read with me. so i sorry... but i'll be in and out till dh gets home.

BeaMantovani: hi!

hbonda (Hema): and raghu is too sleepy to be dissuaded.... i mean he wants to show me every scene... so i may be slow to respond. hi! by the way i'm Hema.

SandraDodd: I'm trying to think of the scary parts in the first Harry Potter movie. The snake at the zoo

BeaMantovani: I'm typing mostly with one hand, holding baby with the other I'm Bea, in Montreal

SandraDodd: Once you guys get going, I'll probably just cut and paste every fifteen minutes and stay out of the chat.

hbonda (Hema): this is chamber of secrets

SandraDodd: OH NO, that one's all kinds of traumatizing... You might need to keep an eye on the video

hbonda (Hema): but you know spanish too right sandra?

SandraDodd: I'm a shameful English speaking American.

hbonda (Hema): ah

SandraDodd: I can understand it, but not speak back in Spanish. There's a lot of that in Northern New Mexico. People speak one but understand both. And it depends what they're talking about. I can get lost.

hbonda (Hema): ah

SandraDodd: But helping grandmothers find things in the grocery store and such, no problem

hbonda (Hema): so what languages do you and family speak bea?

SandraDodd: Keith was telling me last night about his best friend who's great with languages, and he's learned Navajo and Chinese. Lived in China a while.

BeaMantovani: French, English and German (well, with dd anyway ..;-)

hbonda (Hema): so cool.

BeaMantovani: I've lived in China too ..:-)

hbonda (Hema): Bea: ah! what about kids?

SandraDodd: But when he was learning Navajo, he would speak to older Navajo guys and they would just say "Oh! You said ..." and translate it into English. They wouldn't chat in Navajo with him.

hbonda (Hema): weird! is the Navajo language in decline?

BeaMantovani: I have a 3 and a half year old, and a one month old. So the one month old doesn't speak, obviously ..;-)

SandraDodd: Bea, why do you move around so much? (Just curious... what cool things are you doing?)
Navajo survives, there are TV news and discussion shows, but I think they figure it's just weird for a non-Navajo to speak any.
Maybe your husband is a spy and so you can't tell me why you move around. Never mind.

BeaMantovani: I don't know why I move around so much, must be in my genes, big line of immigrants (grandfather Italian, immigrated to Algeria, moved to France after independence, my dad moved us to Tahiti when I was 10, and then I've moved around on my own, because I can't seem to settle anywhere...

SandraDodd: Wait... Hema has lived lots of places too.
Maybe her husband is a spy too.

BeaMantovani: lol

hbonda (Hema): >> SandraDodd: LOL

SandraDodd: When I was a kid and people would move to my little town in northern New Mexico, if they had lived other places I would totally interview them.

hbonda (Hema): i wish... life would get real interesting according to raghu

SandraDodd: And when I "moved away" I only went 86 miles. But I LOVE New Mexico. Where did you live before India, Hema? I forgot

BeaMantovani: my husband is German, and he moves because I ask him too. he's the nicest guy, I tell him, hey , I want to move to Belgium and he finds a job there, I tell him let's move to Montreal and gets all the paperwork done and finds a job ..:-)

SandraDodd: You have one great husband!

BeaMantovani: I do ..:-)
he likes adventure too, I think that's why he married me ..:-)

SandraDodd: And Hema's husband is going to bring her to New Mexico to see me! (Well, not from India... from New Jersey... and not just to see me, but it sounds good that way.)

hbonda (Hema): I was born in india. raised since 2 till 16 in abu dhabi. Then did my bachelors while living in a hostel in Mumbai (bombay).

BeaMantovani: living in a hostel?

hbonda (Hema): then i moved back to abu dhabi for a job.... then on to NYC for my masters. then stayed in NJ for about 10 years then a year in singapore then a year so far here in Pune. oh ya... 6.5 years in Mumbai YES>>> me come to SEE you... honestly...even if you weren't near santa fe i'd come. but i worded it that way... i think coz i was worried you'd think i was trailing/chasing you ..:-)

SandraDodd: Singapore. That's what I forgot.

hbonda (Hema): >> BeaMantovani: WOW!!! my dh would love to do this for me and him ..:-) move around a lot more i mean.

hbonda (Hema): I honestly love travel yet wish fervently for ONE large adobe style home close to a beach preferably ..:-) where i can always return to Molly: i'm just getting on. My name is Molly and I live in Ecuador

SandraDodd: Molly, you can add your name if you want by clicking that little triangle by Guest84

BeaMantovani: I love to travel, and at the same time I love staying home. I keep on wanting to settle somewhere but then always find a place that gets me excited to move again. lol

hbonda (Hema): hello Molly. I'm Hema and we speak Kannada, marathi, Hindi and English. I think in English now... but as a young child i would think in Kannada

BeaMantovani: Hi Molly!

BeaMantovani: I'm Bea, I live in Montreal and we speak French, English and German

PamSoroosh: hi

BeaMantovani: hi Pam ..:-)

hbonda (Hema): Hello pam

BeaMantovani: Hema, what languages do you speak with your children? : or around your children...

hbonda (Hema): My kids are 6 and 3. They both have been exposed to all these languages from birth. but the older one lived in NJ long enough to pick up an accent and can easily understand when folks speak americanese. But he still finds it hard to understand local English here sometimes
we speak Kannada, marathi, Hindi and English. I think in English now... but as a young child i would think in Kannada

BeaMantovani: do your kids understand the other languages? (Is marathi the language mostly spoken in Pune?)

MollyB (Guest84): I have a question for everybody, let's see if I can make it concise....

hbonda (Hema): >> BeaMantovani: yes it is... i was exposed to it during my BFA in Mumbai... the professors mostly spoke marathi.. so i taught it to myself
The kids understand snippets of marathi, most of Hindi and most of kannada. Raghu refuses to speak in any indian language... coz he is still a bit mad at us for moving here.... late understanding that we were going to be here for a long time

MollyB (Guest84): My children will often come home and speak a lot of spanish to me after a day with friends or family. We speak English as a family (even my husband who is Ecuadorean). It feels weird to me to respond or continue speaking with them in Spanish , since I don’t have that custom. So I find myself gently telling them to speak English with me, I don't think they notice what they are speaking.

hbonda (Hema): But he mellowing and beginning to use snippets with people in the building. little one speaks everything in bits and pieces. Ravi and i mostly speak in English and Hindi. My family speaks in Kannada. Folks in this city speak Marathi

BeaMantovani: >> MollyB (Guest84): my husband speaks German to our daughter, but she responds in English. It works fine for them

hbonda (Hema): >> BeaMantovani: ya...thats us too

MollyB (Guest84): My question is, should I encourage them to speak whatever they want with me? I am the only English they get around here, so I do want to "keep it up" if you know what I mean

hbonda (Hema): >> MollyB (Guest84): i don't understand your use of the word custom... sorry

BeaMantovani: my husband speaks to daughter in German, and I speak to her in English, and husband and I speak French to each other (and we live in Montreal, where French is the majority language, although a lot of our friends are English speakers)

MollyB (Guest84): but it does seem harsh and awkward when I request that they speak English with me by "custom" I mean I am not used to relating to them in Spanish and so it feels funny and I prefer to stick to English with them

BeaMantovani: I was the only English speaker around my daughter for the first three years of her life, and her English was fine. She doesn't even have an accent, and I have a French accent

PamSoroosh: Molly - what do they think?

hbonda (Hema): >> MollyB (Guest84): Sorry Molly... but can you explain what you mean by "so I do want to "keep it up" if you know what I mean "

MollyB (Guest84): well, most of the time they will switch, no problem, sometimes they will continue in Spanish and I won't press it it's a non-issue, really. I was just wondering how other people did it

BeaMantovani: >> MollyB (Guest84): do they get to watch videos in English? I think that helped my daughter a lot

MollyB (Guest84): yes, we don't have TV- but I' d say half of their video collection is in English

PamSoroosh: When my oldest was little she spoke Farsi with her dad and some other people and English with me and most people around her spoke English. After a while, she would get angry at her dad when she spoke English and he spoke Farsi to her.

PamSoroosh: She'd tell him, "SPEAK ENGLISH."

BeaMantovani: >> PamSoroosh: how old was she then? (just wondering if my daughter will reach that stage)

hbonda (Hema): >> MollyB (Guest84): Are you worried that they will not pick up as much English?

MollyB (Guest84): my kids still have trouble distinguishing the languages

PamSoroosh: She was five or so.

MollyB (Guest84): like, my 5.5 year old will ask me which language we are speaking now and what language she speaks with her cousins

Guest41: hi, I'm from Indiana.

hbonda (Hema): >> MollyB (Guest84): it think that is normal.. my children both went thru and still will mix up words. A lot of emotions that we express in languages other than English can't be directly translated into English... so we tend to speak a hodgepodge

BeaMantovani: >> PamSoroosh:oh, my 3.5 years old...

Guest41: I talk and teach my 5-year-old Mandarin Chinese and her dad speaks to her in English. She also learns some French.

PamSoroosh: Roya was frustrated because she could communicate much better in English and she was impatient with speaking Farsi. It angered her when she knew her dad could speak English, but was trying to insist that she speak Farsi with him.

MollyB (Guest84): >>

hbonda (Hema): what I mean by "keeping it up" is so that English comes naturally to them and they can use it effortlessly

adreanaline: Hi

PamSoroosh: molly - as long as they're not resisting or unhappy or getting upset by it - then keep it up just as you are.

MollyB (Guest84): >> PamSoroosh: yes , I want to be careful of not creating those negative associations

BeaMantovani: I think my husband will be sad if dd doesn't speak German... on the other hand he does spend a lot of time with her (is on parental leave for 4 months right now) so maybe that won't happen, I guess we'll have to be open to that possibility though

PamSoroosh: my kids regret now that their dad did not keep it up.

hbonda (Hema): >> MollyB (Guest84): thanks... i was getting a bit lost there ..:-) I do feel that it will work out in the end if you like to use English yourself. They will pick it up from your usage

adreanaline: (has ASL/English in her home)

BeaMantovani: >> PamSoroosh: your husband insisted that they respond in Farsi? (just trying to think what mistake not to make)

hbonda (Hema): >> PamSoroosh: can you say a bit more about that "my kids regret now that their dad did not keep it up. "

PamSoroosh: LOL - we have ASL, too, these days. Rosie is so crazy about it - she signs constantly.

Guest41: Hi Adreanaline, what does ASL mean?

adreanaline: American Sign Language Good for Rosie!! .:-D

PamSoroosh: My kids are now 18, 21, and 24. They speak very little Farsi - not enough to communicate with their relatives.

Guest41: Thanks.

adreanaline: My husband's parents are Deaf and DeafBlind too

MollyB (Guest84): >> PamSoroosh: that's what I would like to avoid, if I can

adreanaline: When we lived in NC it was difficult because I was the only one signing

AlexPoly (Guest17): Hi! Sorry I could not get here until now

hbonda (Hema): well won't they pick up Farsi easily if surrounded by Farsi speaking people...especially since they were exposed to it over the years?

Guest41: How old are your kids now?

adreanaline: now living here, Dad is signing, and so are grandparents. We have more hearing friends who sign as well

BeaMantovani: talking about mistakes: I found online a woman who planned on unschooling, spoke several languages in her home, and when daughter started forgetting one language (the language spoken by the dad) she sent her to school... that's one mistake I do not want to make

hbonda (Hema): >> PamSoroosh: well won't they pick up Farsi easily if surrounded by Farsi speaking people...e sp since they were exposed to it over the years?

adreanaline: When the kids were in school, they were NOT encouraged in their signing so school is not a fix for language learning ..:-(

PamSoroosh: The world is a small place - their cousins who live in germany, spain, and other places in the world are all on facebook now.

AlexPoly (Guest17): Gigi needs a lot of nursing to wake up and my lap top cord wnt bad I was trying to make it work and finally my son let me use his computer

BeaMantovani: hi Alex!

PamSoroosh: they won't ever be surrounded by Farsi-speaking people. That would mean living in iran or afghanistan. not likely.

Guest41: I've a question for everybody. Do any of you teach your kids the Latin language at home?

adreanaline: no -- it's hard to learn a language if you're not around someone who speaks it fluently

BeaMantovani: >> Guest41: I think most ppl here don't teach, they just speak ..;-)

AlexPoly (Guest17): I don't "teach" any language We speak

hbonda (Hema): >> PamSoroosh: I guess i meant family speaking Farsi who lived in the US

adreanaline: That's why I admire people like Rosie -- making the opportunity to practice

PamSoroosh: only the older generation speaks Farsi together - in the Persian community, I mean. All the young people grew up here and speak English when they are together. Farsi only with parents and grandparents.

adreanaline: Pam, what sparked Rosie's interest in ASL?

PamSoroosh: Anybody under 30 was born here.

AlexPoly (Guest17): My niece pretty much learned English when she lived in Brazil by listening to music and watching movies without subtitles

hbonda (Hema): >> PamSoroosh: ah... yes ... i understand.

BeaMantovani: I think with languages, kids will only keep up with the languages they really need (just like everything else, I guess)

hbonda (Hema): >> Guest41: we just talk and talk and talk. no teaching happening here

BeaMantovani: unless they like studying languages for the sake of it (like me ..;-)

adreanaline: I heard a story once -- about a group of CODA siblings

MollyB (Guest84): >> AlexPoly (Guest17): I have met people that have learned languages like that, too! Totally amazes me since Spanish was a struggle for me

AlexPoly (Guest17): YI try to speak as much Portuguese to my kids at home. We live in the US and dad is American

adreanaline: their parents passed away but they felt bonded to the language so much that whenever they gathered, they still signed

PamSoroosh: Rosie has always loved sign. She'd picked up a lot of signs from various activities - like in Girl Scouts
learning the Girl Scout promise and a song in sign as part of earning a badge. And finger spelling from having a poster hanging in my sister's bathroom

hbonda (Hema): >> AlexPoly (Guest17): that's how my kids are learning hindi.. hindi movies and cartoons. its funny because they speak hindi differently than in real life.. its very dramatic

adreanaline: Cool! I guess there are some languages that kids glom to more than others

SandraDodd: Marty just told me a story. He works at a restaurant where people speak Farsi and Spanish and English (the lady who comes to make the bread only speaks Farsi). There's a guy from Morocco who speaks French and Arabic.

BeaMantovani: does anybody speak a language with their spouse that is different than the language they speak with their kids?

PamSoroosh: Rosie just took every opportunity to learn. When we'd go to a show and there was someone interpreting, she'd watch the interpreter and pick up signs because she could guess what was being said.

adreanaline: I was learning Japanese for a while, and occasionally the kids will say that's in Japanese

AlexPoly (Guest17): My mom usually comes and spends months with us. My kids understand pretty much everything in Portuguese speak little but I know from seein other families that the moment they NEED to speak ( a trip to Brazil for example) they will speak in no time

adreanaline: Armand said once that the reflected light on the side of a hotel here looked like kanji

PamSoroosh: AND - believe it or not - she watched the interpreter for Joey on West Wing - over and over and over - so picked up a lot of signs from that.

adreanaline: wow

MollyB (Guest84): BeaMantovani: my husband and I speak Spanish to each other most of the time and speak English to the kids

AlexPoly (Guest17): No Bea but I speak some French with my mom once in a while

SandraDodd: But he said yesterday the dishwasher was walking out and they said "Are you leaving?" and she speaks Spanish, and stopped and looked at them and said "aqui" and then left.
SandraDodd: So they looked at each other, and she went out, her husband met her in the parking lot, and gave her her keys
SandraDodd: So Marty was glad he knew she was saying she was staying there, but she was saying "a key" not "aqui."

hbonda (Hema): >> AlexPoly (Guest17): yes... i think this is the case for us too. my parents speak kannada with the kids and me. And whenever they've been here a month or so.. the kids start to effortlessly speak a few words here and there and their understanding of

adreanaline: what's kannada?

Guest41: AlexPoly, how many languages do you speak?

hbonda (Hema): Kannada is a language of Karnataka, a southern state in India.

adreanaline: cool

hbonda (Hema): We have 21 official different languages here in india... so most people are trilingual at least

AlexPoly (Guest17): I speak Portuguese, French, Spanish and English

PamSoroosh: that's funny sandra - she was speaking English - but not what they expected.

adreanaline: polyglot ..:-)

AlexPoly (Guest17): My French comes and goes and everytime I travel somehwere ( ike France) I can speak in like a day but then it gets pretty rusty from not using

BeaMantovani: I have a question; does anybody speak a different language with spouse than with the kids? I speak English to dd, dh speaks German to dd, but dh and I speak French to each other. dd doesn't understand as much French, and I wonder if that's bad... I mean

Guest41: Alex, Thanks. Do your kids all speak those 4 languages?

MollyB (Guest84): I read alot of your stuff on line and I must say that your English is awesome- did you speak it as a child?

hbonda (Hema): and thousands of dialects etc.

BeaMantovani: I mean bad that she doesn't understand what her dad and I are saying to each other (although we do tell her when she asks)

AlexPoly (Guest17): Bea don't you live in a French speaking area?

hbonda (Hema): >> SandraDodd: funny

PamSoroosh: My husband's cousin -- he speaks Farsi to the kids, their mom speaks chinese to them, mom and dad speak English to each other.
PamSoroosh: Kids are now 22 and 24. They speak all three languages very fluently.
PamSoroosh: worked very well for them.

hbonda (Hema): >> PamSoroosh: do the kids in the family ever use Farsi as a secret language ?

AlexPoly (Guest17): Thanks
No my kids speak Portuguese and English and I think they understand a little bit of Spanish (which is easy for Portuguese speaking and not the other way around)

hbonda (Hema): i mean yours and theirs and other cousins

BeaMantovani: >> AlexPoly (Guest17): yes, I live in Montreal, but used to live in Dutch speaking Belgium, and a lot of our friends here are English speakers

PamSoroosh: no - they don't speak enough Farsi to talk to each other. they only know names of things.

adreanaline: Pam -- why don't they speak more Farsi? (I may have missed an explanation before I came in)

AlexPoly (Guest17): Bea Your kids are very young and they may decide they want to speak French in the Future. I did not learn French until I was 19 and I had like 4 months of lessons and could pretty much do it on my own from there. I always wanted to learn

hbonda (Hema): >> PamSoroosh: ah. i'm in love with a Farsi poet... who writes about love..... Hafiz

MollyB (Guest84): we speak English to each other in public, and I must say, it's really nice sometimes to discuss things knowing that almost nobody knows what we're saying

PamSoroosh: they were frustrated with speaking Farsi very early on - got annoyed and angry with their dad when he insisted on Farsi. Roya would demand that he speak English - she wouldn't understand something he was saying and get mad at him. It was interfering with their relationship

BeaMantovani: both dh and I love languages and pick them up very easily, so I'm hoping it runs in our genes ..:-)

PamSoroosh: So he started speaking english.

MollyB (Guest84): not in a bad way, we are not dissing people or talking bad, but issues like sibling fights or what to buy and why don't have to be observed by the general public

Guest41: Bea, how many languages do you speak? just out of curiosity.

adreanaline: oh -- emotional impressions can be hard to beat

AlexPoly (Guest17): Me and my mom love languages. I have to say that my mom is amazing and she can speak so many languages it is silly. She also leaned a lot of them after she was in her 30s and 40s
There is no time to learn a language you can learn at any time

adreanaline: proof that language learning isn't the domain of the young!

SandraDodd: I think there's an ability or talent that some people have lots of, to learn languages.

Guest41: I agree with Sandra.

BeaMantovani: well, I speak English and French, Spanish, Mandarin (Chinese), German, and then I understand and speak some Dutch, some Italian, and some other languages I understand bits and pieces ..;-)

SandraDodd: I was saying earlier my friend Bob (the best man at our wedding) learned Navajo and Chinese, and neither is easy for English speakers.

MollyB (Guest84): >>

adreanaline: no, but it is amazing to see how easy it is for them! - coming from someone who struggled learning Spanish in my 20's

AlexPoly (Guest17): I used to know a little ASL but never used it and last time I needed when I met Adrean I could only remember stupid stuff! Sorry Adrean

SandraDodd: And poor me, I can't even get Spanish. (And now I'll hush, because I'm not really in this conversation.)

PamSoroosh: My grandfather spoke a lot of languages fluently - all learned after he was 40. He worked for the United States Agency for International Development and went to their language institute for Turkish, Farsi, and Arabic. Then lived for most of the rest

BeaMantovani: (I actually don't speak German very well, but I understand it very well)

adreanaline: I've been told by some ASL teachers that it's possible to have people who can't pick up the language at all

PamSoroosh: of his life in countries that spoke those languages.

AlexPoly (Guest17): I really love ASL. and I can read lips in Portuguses well too...very well

Guest41: Bea, what is your Chinese level? Do you know how to read and write Chinese characters? Are they simplified or traditional ones?

adreanaline: I think it's easy because some young people aren't as burdened by cares and worries as older people are --- like caring for kids, etc

AlexPoly (Guest17): I think some people get languages easier than others

adreanaline: that can interfere with learning

PamSoroosh: adrean - I'm not very good at asl. It doesn't "stick" for me. I have to relearn the same signs over and over. Rosie never seems to forget one once she's done it just once.

AlexPoly (Guest17): Its not really anything related to being musical I am not musical at all but I can learn languages well

Guest41: Bea, you might mention your kids' ages. But, I probably miss that. How old are they now?

adreanaline: Alex - a receptive mind counts most of all! We had a good time with you all, enjoyed chatting!

BeaMantovani: >> Guest41: I lived in China for 3 years. I could read the newspaper then, not so much now. writting by hand was never easy for me, but I did write essays on the computer (went to a joint american-chinese program for a year)

AlexPoly (Guest17): Yes I had a great time meeting you. Lets get together again Next wek at teh Zoo? A group is going want to join?

BeaMantovani: my kids are 3 and a half and one month (!) old (which is why all of this is very hypothetical for me...)

adreanaline: Pam, have you tried learning with different media?

PamSoroosh: When my kids were little, trying to speak Farsi with their dad was limiting the level of conversation they could have with him. They didn't have the vocabulary - he wasn't with them all day like I was - they couldn't express feelings and emotions to him.

adreanaline: computer videos, flashcards, in live conversation? ooh that looks like fun, Alex, it's been so nice outside! Can you email the info?

AlexPoly (Guest17): For kids I vouch for movies in their native language and music Find movies they like

hbonda (Hema): Now that we are talking about writing..... i can read and write arabic... but i can't speak it any more! i was raised in Abu Dhabi from 2-16..... and arabic was compulsory in school. funny how even today i can switch to reading it so easily... but i've : lost the ability to speak. perhaps if i return there some day i'll be back

MollyB (Guest84): books, too!

adreanaline: Alex, agree about being musical -- I enjoy learning languages as well and learn them written only

adreanaline: when I have time : P

BeaMantovani: >> PamSoroosh: I remember you writing about that... I wonder if that's because your dh insisted they speak Farsi back? my dd doesn't have a problem expressing herself to her dad (in English), while he answers in German (but maybe it's because she's young

Guest41: Bea, How many languages does your 3 year old speak now?

BeaMantovani: young)

PamSoroosh: that might be, bea.

adreanaline: My husband and oldest boy had an adversarial relationship for a long time

BeaMantovani: >> Guest41: she speaks mostly English, but understands German, and some French (and some Spanish thanks to Dora and cartoons we download from Youtube ..;-)

adreanaline: he was frustrated that he couldn't understand him -- and my oldest couldn't express himself well

AlexPoly (Guest17): NEVER force your kid to speak a certain language. I think

adreanaline: Alex - yes when he came home from school and we stayed in unschooling it helped a lot

PamSoroosh: that is what was happening to my dh and my oldest daughter. so my dh stopped trying to speak Farsi - spoke English instead, for the sake of their relationship.

MollyB (Guest84): >> AlexPoly (Guest17): that's what can [leave] them disinterested in learning, let alone the damage done to the parent-child relationship

hbonda (Hema): We have not insisted on any language usage... but both kids seem to be leaning towards English... my son who lived in US for 3 years ... still prefers friends who speak English clearly... i mean especially after our move to Pune

adreanaline: he felt calmer and then gradually we could understand each other better. It's still hard sometimes but at least we have space for patience

AlexPoly (Guest17): exactly molly but i have seen it happen

PamSoroosh: adrean - did you grow up with asl or asl and signed English or ??

adreanaline: signed English
then in 8th grade I moved to the deaf school
I learned ASL there, but didn't drop all the English signs until I married John (John the Deaf family)
When I was born my mother was told that an oral program was the way to go, that signing would stop me learning to speak

BeaMantovani: I'm thinking if we go to Germany often enough and keep German fun and alive, it might help

AlexPoly (Guest17): When I was in high school in Brazil (an american HS) I had a friend that could NOT speak Portuguese and had been living in Brazil for almost 4 y
Then he met a brazilian girl that did not speak English. He was speaking in less than 3 months Amazing what you do when you NEED it

BeaMantovani: I think my dh would have a hard time expressing *his* feelings and emotions in English

adreanaline: she'd have to drive for hours to take me to that program. I'd have tantrums in the morning because I couldn't tell her what I wanted for breakfast. She finally figured it out and got a book of signs. After that breakfast was much smoother.

hbonda (Hema): BeaMantovani: On a long car ride recently... a friend of Raghu and i started a game... and raghu has taken it up now.... i basically say shlokas in Sanskrit shlokas are prayers/sayings etc... AlexPoly (Guest17

adreanaline: wow

BeaMantovani: >> AlexPoly (Guest17): lol!

hbonda (Hema): and then they have to repeat it. and because they don't understand the words.. i think its funny for them to do them like tongue twisters. I love sanskrit and can recite things endlessly... so a fun game for me too ..:-) >>

BeaMantovani: i was responding to your part "keep German fun and alive, it might help " in this case... the tongue gets used to the twists that form the basis of a lot of indian languages

PamSoroosh: Here - seems like they are pushing for deaf kids to learn signed English - because it is somehow better for them in school? They teach signed English in the teacher preparation program at my college.

adreanaline: oh noooo way! Kids who learn Signed English tend to parrot it back they can say it but they don't understand it

BeaMantovani: >>

hbonda (Hema): thanks, great idea!

adreanaline: It does not help with English. I read a lot when I was a kid, I enjoy language and have the ability for it

MollyB (Guest84): >>

adreanaline: what's the difference between signed English and ASL?

adreanaline: not all my classmates did Signed English is word for word and tacks on the endings like -ly, -ed

hbonda (Hema): >> MollyB (Guest84): my question too

adreanaline: It is very robotic and awkward

MollyB (Guest84): so why do people use it?

adreanaline: ASL is a true language, with grammar structure, etc because some people think English is superior to ASL and is the way to go

PamSoroosh: Rosie switched to a different college to get a degree in ASL, rather than learning signed English.

AlexPoly (Guest17): ASL is awesome. I want to learn it more.

adreanaline: People put too much emphasis on learning English to measure success in Deaf people

AlexPoly (Guest17): I say to people that have little kids that kids will learn when they want and need.

adreanaline: knowing English helps, but a "can-do" attitude and adaptability is worth more My husband became skilled in English over one summer when he was 11 or so

hbonda (Hema): >> AlexPoly (Guest17): I guess if we use languages based on our need/ability/interest/enjoyment... they would naturally do something similar?

AlexPoly (Guest17): I speak portuguese to my kids a lot and they answer in English but I know they will learn when they need and want to or at least have some knowledge of it.

adreanaline: He just walked in a store and then decided to himself he'd read through the largest book he could find

AlexPoly (Guest17): That is what I think hbonda

adreanaline: turned out to be Ken Follett's Pillars of the Earth
maybe his story would have been different if it was Kiplinger's Finance in Excruciating Detail

MollyB (Guest84): oh my god! That's a feat!

adreanaline: he read through it and was hooked

AlexPoly (Guest17): That is also nothing wrong with learning at any age and doing language programs to jump start.

PamSoroosh: LOL - yeah - that's funny Adrean!

hbonda (Hema): >> MollyB (Guest84): LOL

adreanaline: now he writes poetry -- just published Deaf American Poetry with Gallaudet University Press this month

MollyB (Guest84): yes, I can relate, I just finished the sequel - World without End - totally incredible

adreanaline: agree Alex, but some people in Deaf Ed don't get it

PamSoroosh: wow. that's amazing.

hbonda (Hema): DH and i bought a bunch of italian on tape... and are planning to gear up for a trip to italy some day we went once a long time ago and loved the language

adreanaline: WOW

adreanaline: I didn't know there was a sequel, I should ask him about it when he gets back tomorrow from New York

MollyB (Guest84): highly recommended

adreanaline: my oldest also had the "reading circuit" in his brain switch on the summer of his 6th birthday
he could read but could not get the context
that time I sent him to school because we were in North Carolina

PamSoroosh: adrean - i'm looking at the book's table of contents - which is your husband's?

adreanaline: it did not go well - they drilled him and he started to say he didn't want to read books with too many pages it was sad. Now he reads comics and thin books

AlexPoly (Guest17): My cousin's son was born in Brazil and live there until he was like 4 or 5 when she moved back to the US. Once here they stopped speaking Portuguese to him and When he was 16 he made friends with a Brazilian boy who had just moved to the US and spoke no English

MollyB (Guest84): well, it's not really a sequel, but same place, different time- don't have to read the first one to enjoy the second [I guess I lost a little here, because there wasn't overlap between my saved file.] Learnt some signing "you are the x team to arrive.

adreanaline: I haven't seen that yet, am curious. Are there episodes of that online?

RobynC (Guest68):

adreanaline: no subtitles or captions.

JennyC: you can use xbox to chat with others from around the world online, while playing

adreanaline: uggh that is infuriating -- CBS has a lot of funding, they can at least caption their episodes...

JennyC: I had no idea they didn't caption

joykelsa (Guest74): thank You both. dh and I are taking that bsl class together starting next week.

[bsl=British Sign Language]

SandraDodd: When it's broadcast there's close captioning, but what shows up online... maybe there's a setting or option?

adreanaline: no, NBC has an option on some of their videos

joykelsa (Guest74): I was thinking of trying to combine it with learning another oral language like French.

SandraDodd: We're halfway of the three hours.

adreanaline: no options on this one ..:-(

JennyC: learning how to sign had everything to do with why we started unschooling, and then we never learned it, and now i think i'm going to

adreanaline: Jenny -- no time like the present to learn! If you need any help please do contact me

AlexPoly (Guest17): Don't make learning another language something artificial

SandraDodd: Are there other questions or stories of in-home language issues? I don't want to rush people off, but I don't want to keep those who came for general chat from getting to talk if they need to. So I guess i'm declaring a transitional time.

adreanaline: Jenny where are you located? There might be ASL meet-ups and silent dinners where you are

JennyC: we are in Oregon

SandraDodd: Either is fine, but the language stuff, I'll edit into a readable transcript, and the other stuff I'll probably cut.

adreanaline: come to think of it is a great place to find language learning chats

JennyC: i'm sure there are

AlexPoly (Guest17): You can expose you kids to other languages but they will only learn another language when they want or need them unless or live in a place surrounded by it

JennyC: heck Diana lives pretty close by

adreanaline: (← to an archived copy from that year)

JennyC: yes that's true Alex some kids do want to learn languages just because too Margaux is like that

RobynC (Guest68): I can't stay long because of what's going on here, but I want to say that I learnt four languages as a child, but they didn't stick once I left the countries, other than English. My dh learnt Spanish from the cook/nanny and he still speaks it.

SandraDodd: Robyn, what languages did you know when you were little?

adreanaline: joy, are you aware of SeeHear and other BSL resources online?

AlexPoly (Guest17): There is a big push to get your kids to learn a language when they are young

joykelsa (Guest74): I wasn't. this is a very new thing for us. except when the kids were very young they knew and liked the sign for dog (I think that was it).

RobynC (Guest68): My first language was Japanese (according to my mother) We were there. Then I spoke German in Germany for quite some time (Dad's family) and I learnt English - but I have memories of being timid about speaking English. When I was 7 I lived in Tahiti

hbonda (Hema): Sorry... got to go. good night from Pune. Thank you for the ideas, links and chat ..:-)

RobynC (Guest68): and spoke only French outside of home. I remember specifically forgetting some English words and having a hard time communicating with Mum.

SandraDodd: Bye Hema! Thank you

AlexPoly (Guest17): Bye hbonda

adreanaline: SeeHear is a BSL news programme and check out the BDA [← that page is gone, but the site is still at, in 2021] By hbonda, good chatting .. :-)

AlexPoly (Guest17): I have friends that have their very young kids in French and Spanish classes from the age of 3 I did not learn Spanish until I was 16 and French 19 and its not a problem at all

adreanaline: BSL signs online

JennyC: bye hema

RobynC (Guest68): I thought I'd have a head start taking high school French at the age of 15 but NONE of it came back to me.

JennyC: that's interesting Robyn

joykelsa (Guest74): bye hema. thank You adreanaline. I am going to be so ready now for that class next week! ..:-)

adreanaline: here's online resources for ASL: and

JennyC: I would've thought that it would've stayed somewhere in the subconcious

adreanaline: Joy - you're welcome ..:-)

BeaMantovani: >> RobynC (Guest6 .8-) : do you think you would have picked up French if you hadn't been in a French speaking school?

joykelsa (Guest74): maybe with languages it's an age and time thing.

RobynC (Guest68): Evidently I really need to be immersed in a language. I lived for years in Hong Kong, but all of my associates and friend spoke English so I didn't learn but a couple of words, and I don't know if they are Cantonese or Mandarin.

Guest41: need to leave, cause baby is crying. Thanks all.

JennyC: bye

AlexPoly (Guest17): Bye

RobynC (Guest68): Everyone spoke French in Tahiti at the time. I had to learn or never speak to anyone.

BeaMantovani: RobynC (Guest6 .8-) true ..:-)

AlexPoly (Guest17): That is what I was saying. I don't think you will not be able to learn a language because you did not learn when you were a child

BeaMantovani: >> AlexPoly (Guest17): I agree

AlexPoly (Guest17): I think kids can pick up a language more naturally because they are less afraid to make mistakes

RobynC (Guest68): I daresay if I was dumped some place now I'd learn the local dialect in time.

AlexPoly (Guest17): Adults don't want to make mistakes so they don't just try as children does

BeaMantovani: >> AlexPoly (Guest17): I'm a perfect example of that too, and I also have friends who were in French immersion school starting in Kindergarten (in English speaking Canada) and whose French is really bad

AlexPoly (Guest17): I know I would Robyn!

BeaMantovani: I would too

SandraDodd: I understand more and more Spanish as the years go by, but the few times I've tried to speak I've been laughed at so I stopped trying.

adreanaline: That's true about being afraid to make mistakes. My dad isn't fluent in sign because he doesn't want to feel awkward
it has been a source of friction for years

AlexPoly (Guest17): So that is what is stopping you Sandra

JennyC: Alex, it's funny you say that about making mistakes! it's true, and i'm finding that the older I get the less I care about making mistakes, so maybe I'd pick up a language better now in midlife than in young adulthood

SandraDodd: But if I moved to Mexico or Spain, I would just suck it up. It's being one of the few anglo kids in a predominenantly hispanic, very old neighborhood, that kept me from opening my mouth.

BeaMantovani: part of the reason my husband is so good at languages is because he has no inhibitions. he just speaks

AlexPoly (Guest17): I think my mom learns languages so easy because she is NOT afraid to make mistakes

JennyC: and some people are naturally adept at it

AlexPoly (Guest17): Some are Jenny

SandraDodd: I would be willing to try to speak French if i were in France (me with my three years of school french and a lot of subtitle watching) but not Spanish in New Mexico.

AlexPoly (Guest17): but not being afraid is a huge thing in learning to speak

BeaMantovani: we were once in Lisbon and he was speaking some kind of Portuguese sounding Spanishized French to everyone, and getting by just fine. lol

adreanaline: I knew a guy in college who was dyslexic -- he took a long time understanding fingerspelling but still forged ahead

joykelsa (Guest74): adults who learn a new language will sometimes have an accent that children won't have but even then one can learn to sound natural. so I've read.

JennyC: I've always had a hard time because of my hearing loss, i can't distinguish between subtle sounds, i can't even do that sometimes in my own language

adreanaline: it was difficult to talk with him sometimes but it didn't stop him

AlexPoly (Guest17): You can lose your accent but I ask WHY? SandraDodd: Bea, have you seen the movie Love Actually?

JennyC: haha i knew what you were saying anyway alex

adreanaline: (it's possible to have an accent in sign language as well)

AlexPoly (Guest17): Have you heard Robyn in her Australian accent?

BeaMantovani: >> joykelsa (Guest74): my husband is German and most people think he is French when he speaks French - he only started learning French when he was 16

AlexPoly (Guest17): its so adorable!

SandraDodd: There's a language element in that, with Colin Firth and Portuguese.

RobynC (Guest68): My Australian friends say I sound american when I talk on the phone, and I can hear myself sliding.

SandraDodd: yes, oh yeah, the portuguese woman in France ..:-)

joykelsa (Guest74): they are! sometimes though in parts of the world it tells others things about a person they'd rather not be though. hope that makes sense.

AlexPoly (Guest17): That is cool Adrean!

BeaMantovani: >> AlexPoly (Guest17): I love the US, men find me irresistible with my French accent ..;-)

adreanaline: lol

AlexPoly (Guest17): I LOVE accents. I love to learn were people are from.

BeaMantovani: (of course now I'm happily married so it's not as much fun ..;-)

RVB: People here know I'm Canadian the minute I say "out" or "about" .

AlexPoly (Guest17): You can work in loosing your accent but really why would you care if you have one?

SandraDodd: adreanaline, a sign language accent by region or how old the person was who learned it or whether the person hears or not?

adreanaline: Alex, yes -- I have an English accent. there are variances in regional signs as well. Native foreign SLs who learn ASL also sign different

SandraDodd: A New York accent is not at all attractive in New Mexico. People keep those at their own risk.

adreanaline: Sandra - -all of the above

AlexPoly (Guest17): I can pronounce TH in English if I want to but I usually pronounce it just like the French Canadian does.

SandraDodd: Nobody will hit them, not that risk. but people might not deal with them as openly or willingly

joykelsa (Guest74): here in Europe accents are thought of always a good thing. depends on where a person is from.

adreanaline: It's a mark of distinction if a hearing person is mistaken for a deaf signer

JennyC: oh yeah sandra, the salsa commercials really exploited that fact

AlexPoly (Guest17): When I was a Flight Attendant people always asked me where I was from that I sounded like Celine Dion

SandraDodd: "New York CITY!?"

joykelsa (Guest74): aren't. I meant aren't thought of as good.

SandraDodd: That one?

JennyC: yes, I love that commercial!

AlexPoly (Guest17): ( No I cannot sing to save my life)

JennyC: it was more texas, but still...

SandraDodd: It was originally "New JERsey!?" but [I heard] the state of New Jersey which grew most of the tomatoes that Pace was buying persuaded them to take it back.

adreanaline: Alex -- but won't we learn something when we NEED to? ..;-)

RobynC (Guest68): Noo Yok Siddee

AlexPoly (Guest17): YEES

SandraDodd: I spoke in Saskatoon once, and didn't really know anyone.

AlexPoly (Guest17): but not singing lol

SandraDodd: All strangers to me. Many of the attendees at this conference were conservative farmers. I was there talking about unschooling.

AlexPoly (Guest17): MInne-soth-ta

adreanaline: Sandra - looks like the making of a comical situation

SandraDodd: I sat and listened to a guy rant on about the horrors of sex education

RVB: How did you go over in the Prairies, Sandra?

SandraDodd: and I didn't agree with any of it, but I was just letting his accent wash over me, and analyzing how many different ways he used "eh" and there were four.

JennyC: ok fine, ory-gun, and there are bumper stickers that say that

RVB: "Eh" is quite

SandraDodd: I figured I better be nice to those people if I ever wanted to get home alive.

adreanaline: My mom went with me to a doctor's appt once and she got stared at and asked where she was from-- she has a Southern accent (here in Minnesota)

SandraDodd: I don't know how I live without "eh" and "ya'll," because they're both extremely useful.

RVB: Did you check the pick-ups for gun racks?

JennyC: the horrors!

adreanaline: lol Sandra

RobynC (Guest68): It's funny being here in the US and seeing "eh" as a regional thing. In Australia it means New Zealander.

joykelsa (Guest74): I still remember in a store here a mom saying to her son "it's not here, it's er". The don't say the h's.

SandraDodd: But if I use them around here, I would be shunned.
HEY, my dad had a gun rack in his pickup.
he never locked it
One day a rifle was gone

AlexPoly (Guest17): like Kelly Lovejoy with her Southern Belle accent

adreanaline: that's scary

SandraDodd: and he told my sister one of her friends got his rifle and he wanted it back. And a couple of days later, it was back.

adreanaline: that is, scary to unlock the gun rack

RVB: Gun racks are a bit of an aberration in Canada.

SandraDodd: It was the early 60's, in a small town. Late 60's, when my sister's friend lifted the rifle

JennyC: lots of people in oregon have gun racks, it really is a very redneck meets hippy state

SandraDodd: Not like leaving guns in a parking lot in Los Angeles.

RVB: But farmers usually have rifles to shoot vermin.

SandraDodd: My dad worked for a mining company and was often up in the mountains.
Sometimes going into old mines, in the mountains.
Guns, in such situations, can be lifesaving.

BeaMantovani: >> RVB: where do you live, and where are you from in Canada?

RVB: We have friends who hunt (elk, yum!)

JennyC: us too robin

SandraDodd: My parents both hunted.
Me, all hippie-peacenik.
My HOUSE was redneck meets hippy.

joykelsa (Guest74): be back in 5.

RVB: Hey, Bea. I'm in Issaquah, east of Seattle. I'm from Victoria, B.C., but grew up in Ottawa.

JennyC: wow sandra, you'd get along just fine here in oregon

SandraDodd: My parents were hunter safety instructors one year, and some of the kids at school took their class and thought my parents were GREAT, and I told 'em you can have them.
I was kinda ashamed.
I'm over it now.

RVB: Your mom was a hunter safety instructor, Sandra?

SandraDodd: Yes, for a while. I think fish and wildlife sponsored that course; I'm not sure.

AlexPoly (Guest17): Let me get out of here. I have guests coming and a play date in an hour and half and Gigi really wants me know and I cannot type as she is nursing and wants my attention

JennyC: bye alex!

SandraDodd: I know one of the things it involved was crossing a barbed wire fence safely with a rifle.

adreanaline: bye alex

RVB: Bye, Alex (or Celine, as the case may be!)

SandraDodd: Bye, Alex. thanks

AlexPoly (Guest17): she is pretty jealous of the computer sometimes

adreanaline: Sandra -- why would they need to know that?

AlexPoly (Guest17): Bye all.

JennyC: oh, sandra that's great! one never knows when one shall have to navigate barbed wire fences with guns

AlexPoly (Guest17): Adrean join us next week at the Zoo oK?!

RVB: WWII training!

adreanaline: ok!! .:-D don't forget to send the info!!

AlexPoly (Guest17): I will!

JennyC: or in NM, get off federal land quick before you're caught

DebCunefare: A lot of hunting is done on land that's fenced for livestock. Farmers/ranchers give permission.

adreanaline: interesting

DebCunefare: People sometimes think, oh, lean the gun against the wire or a pole.

AlexPoly (Guest17): you'all come back you hear me! (my accent from when I lived in NC)

DebCunefare: Gun slips, goes off, maybe dead hunter

JennyC: That would be especially true in the sw US Deb!

adreanaline: lol Alex

RVB: Interesting, the things I don't know about guns...

SandraDodd: In New Mexico, navigating barbed wire used to be standard. I wish I had a photo of the stile to cross the corner of our property. It was boards between posts over a barbed wire fence.
We stopped to pee by the side of the road once, and I taught Marty and Kirby to cross through barbed wire. There's a whole etiquette when a group goes through. Lost art. They were like 12, 14, and had no idea.

RVB: >> SandraDodd: That last line is rather poetic, like a lyric to a song. The barbed wire fence sentence. (It was boards between posts over a barbed wire fence.)

JennyC: that's true sandra, you can go out in the middle of nowhere and find old barbed fences stilling hangin in there

SandraDodd: It was one of those things we all just knew when I was little.

adreanaline: to prevent the wire from slapping someone?

JennyC: or snagging you

SandraDodd: Maybe I could sketch it and get an artist friend of mine to draw it better for me.

RobynC (Guest68): Well I must be off. Sorry to hit and run like this.

JennyC: bye robyn

RVB: There were lots of those fences where I grew up, to keep the cows in. Bye Robyn.

SandraDodd: Lots here still, in New Mexico.

JennyC: john and i discovered that margaux is super amazing at using a bb gun

RobynC (Guest68): I'll catch the transcript to see what I missed earlier and later.

joykelsa (Guest74): bye robyn. glad you were here what you said was really interesting.

SandraDodd: If we're ever where there's barbed wire, I shall demonstrate.

DebCunefare: Midwest is mostly fenced with barbs still, even on electrified stretches. City slickers got no idea how to get over, under, through... ..:-)

katherand: We are watching Funny Cat videos ... inspired by Jill Parmer's mention of it in her GREAT post today. Thanks.

adreanaline: bye Robyn

RVB: Cool! Maybe in Santa Fe?

adreanaline: katherand -- ?

SandraDodd: We could do a field trip a few miles from there to cross barbed wire.

RVB: Yes. Let's do it!

SandraDodd: Or maybe we could put up a little stretch of barbed wire fence to practice.

katherand: Youtube. adreanaline

RVB: A barbed wire funshop!

SandraDodd: youchie!
"barbed wire funshop..."

katherand: very like icanhascheezburger though

adreanaline: Sandra - let me know when it's posted, I'm curious what it is! No barbed wire here in downtown but nice to know

JennyC: make sure it's authentically rusty

joykelsa (Guest74): I better go too. looking forward to reading the transcript later. bye everyone.

SandraDodd: Hell yeah, and that there are cow pies you have to avoid, too

adreanaline: Bye joy

JennyC: bye joy

SandraDodd: I'll put a transcript of language discussion without cowpies.

katherand: barbed wire... alternatives to real pain. .:-D

DebCunefare: I bet SW cow pies are nicer than midwest ones

RVB: Bye Joy

DebCunefare: dryer

JennyC: drier for sure

adreanaline: When we first moved here, I kept stepping over the black patches I saw in Iowa. Thought they were all cow pies.

SandraDodd: Ours dry up and turn to frisbees, yeah.

adreanaline: prolific cows there....but then I found out that the soil is black. Didn't realize that! I grew up with red clay soil in NC ..:-)

JennyC: i'll bet you could use them for fuel in fire really easy, like laura ingalls did

RVB: So we should wear old, sturdy clothing and bring some tetanus boosters?

JennyC: yes

katherand: cow pies plus barbed wire... some people think that equals tetanus... but it's not automatic. It's a risk though Rusty barbed wired wire

SandraDodd: The response of some of the kids around me might be "I used to do that (use cow pies for fuel) but then my mom got a job."

DebCunefare: thanks for the laughs, gotta go taxi ..:-)

SandraDodd: We do cut up broken shipping pallets, so we're one step up from cow pies

JennyC: bye deb

adreanaline: bye deb

SandraDodd: go taxi? Darn those smilies GO and verb-to-taxi-someone probably.

JennyC: that's what i thought! i do that too

DebCunefare: Sorry keep trying to just do a regular text smile and forget it will animate

SandraDodd: go taxes would be a possibility this week

JennyC: in my now ghetto van

katherand: RED clay here in SC as well adrena

SandraDodd: Holly taxies me now!
I grew a chauffeur!
(probably can't spell it right, but I have one.)

adreanaline: ooh I just found out that Facebook has a japanese version

DebCunefare: yeah gonna run pat to the train

SandraDodd: see ya'll, eh?

adreanaline: I still can't find Jill Parmer's page curious what the videos are

SandraDodd: Jill posted on the Always Learning list. about it being her 7th anniversary of unschooling

(or here with photos)

JennyC: that's cool

katherand: hang on... adreanaline.... it's in always learning. A post from Jill Parmer in the thread Unschooling for 7 years

adreanaline: how long have you all been unschooling?

JennyC: 10 yrs unschooling, and getting better and better at it!

katherand: Karl is only 5.. so he's not school age yet adreanaline... but I've known about unschooling all this time and that's been my plan all along.

SandraDodd: Kirby is 22 and was just turning five when we decided to do it for at least a year
18 years then?
All of Holly's life, and she'll be 18 in November.

JennyC: that's awesome!

SandraDodd: And I'm still getting better at it.

adreanaline: it'll be 2 years for us November but we've been homeschooling on/off since Jael was preschool

JennyC: I know, I never stop learning about learning!


I intend to add links from comments in the chat, later.

Much of the chat turned out to concern deafness and sign language, and there are more links on that than other things.

Deaf American Poetry, an anthology

Through Deaf Eyes, "a two-hour HDTV documentary that explores 200 years of Deaf life in America." (If you're on Netflix and in the U.S., you can watch it directly there.)

Watch movies yourself before deciding whether to share with children.
Movies with signing:

Four Weddings and a Funeral
The Family Stone

(Note from Sandra: This must be in the part of the chat I failed to cut and save. We talked about Four Weddings and a Funeral with an English character who signs, and he points to parts of his hand. Adreanaline said that was to indicate vowels.)

Other movies of interest:

The Miracle Worker
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
Children of a Lesser God

Deafness in the Movies

Web Resource list:
Deaf Characters and/or Actors in Film