A semantic analysis of signed communication in an activity-based classroom for preschool children who are deaf

Chris Marvin, Kathleen R. Kasal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations


The signed communication of five preschool children who are deaf (ages 4:5 to 5:6) was analyzed for its semantic content. Videotaped samples were collected while the children participated in activity-based classroom routines and familiar play themes with teachers and peers in a 21/2-hour preschool classroom. The children demonstrated expected limitations in their language skills (mean MLU = 2.01) but talked about many of the same topics at school as children of the same age who were not disabled (Marvin, Beukelman, Brockhous, & Kast, 1994). The five children who are deaf generally talked about the here-and-now and themselves and appeared to be heavily influenced by the materials, people, and activities in the immediate environment of the preschool classroom. Talk concerning teachers, peers, class projects, needed supplies and utensils, and food were common and frequent in the children's talk with teachers and peers. Talk concerning temporally displaced topics was less frequent and less common than talk concerning present time frames. Child-initiated utterances were longer in length and more semantically diverse than teacher-prompted utterances. Implications of these findings for preschool deaf educators and speech-language pathologists are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)57-66
Number of pages10
JournalLanguage, speech, and hearing services in schools
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1996



  • Deaf
  • Preschool
  • Semantics
  • Topics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing

Cite this