Balance Toward Language Mastery

Virginia R. Heslinga


Problems in attaining language mastery with students from diverse language backgrounds and levels of ability confront educators around the world. Experiments, research, and experience see positive effects of adding sign language in communication methods to pre-school and K-12 education. Augmentative, alternative, interactive, accommodating, and enriching strategies using sign language aid learners in balancing the skills needed to mastery of one language or multiple languages. Theories of learning that embrace play, drama, motion, repetition, socializing, and self-efficacy connect to the options for using sign language with learners in inclusive and mainstream classes. The methodical use of sign language by this researcher-educator over two and a half decades showed signing does build thinking skills, add enjoyment, stimulate communication, expand comprehension, increase vocabulary acquisition, encourage collaboration, and helps build appreciation for cultural diversity.


Accommodations, Autonomy, Diversity, Inclusion, Language, Neuroscience, Signing, Scaffolding.

Full Text:



Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD). (2017). Policy Priorities.

Bandura, A. (1961). Psychotherapy as a learning process. (Kindle Edition). USA: All about Psychology.

Bloom, B., Englehart, M., Furst, E., Hill, W., & Krathwohl, D. (1956). Taxonomy of educational objectives: The classification of educational goals. Handbook I: Cognitive domain. New York, Toronto: Longmans, Green.

Borgna, G., Convertino, C., Marschark, Morrison C., & Rizzolo, K. (July 2010). Enhancing Deaf Students’ Learning from Sign Language and Text: Metacognition, Modality, and the Effectiveness of Content Scaffolding. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 16(1), 79-100, doi.10.1093/deaf/eng036

Cates, D., Gutierrez, E., Hafer, S., Barrett, R., & Corina, D. (Summer 2013). Location, Location, Location. Sign Language Studies, 13 (4), 433-461.

Cenoz, J.,& D. Gorter. (2008). The linguistic landscape as an additional source of input in second language acquisition. International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, 46(3), 267-287.

Cohalan, E. (Dec 6, 2013). A Review of the Key Factors in Second Language Acquisition. International Conference on Engaging Pedagogy. (ICEP13).Sligo, Ireland.

Costantino, M.A., & Bonati, M. (2014). A scoping review of interventions to supplement spoken communication for children with limited speech or language skills. Plos One, 9(3), e90744. Doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0090744.

Cowan, M. (13 March 2010). Tips for Teaching Mindfulness to Kids. Greater Good: The Science of a Meaningful life. University of California, Berkeley. Retrieved from /article/item/tips_for_teaching_mindfulness_to_kids

Cozolino, L. (19 March 2012). Nine Things Educators Need to Know About the Brain. Greater Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life. University of California, Berkeley. Retrieved from

Dayanim, S., & Namy, L. L. (May/June 2015). Infants Learn Baby Signs from Video. Child Development, 86(3), 800-811. DOI:10.1111/cdev.12340.

Dean, C.B., Hubbell, E.R., Pitler, H., & Stone, B.J. (2012). Classroom instruction that works: Research-based strategies for increasing student achievement. (2nd ed.). EAS: McREL.

Delk, K. (3 Jun 2016). ASL, An Innovative Way to Communicate.

Duke, I. (2009). The everything sign language book. (2nd ed.). Avon, MA: Adams Media.

Edyburn, D. (8 September 2015). Visual Learning Methodologies. Inclusive Schools. Retrieved From

Emmorey K., and Petrich J. A. (2012). Processing orthographic structure: Association between print and fingerspelling. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 17, 194-201., Doi:10.1093/deafed/enro51

Enns, C. J., and Herman, R. C. (Sum 2011). Adapting the, “Assessing British Sign Language Development Receptive Skills Test,” into American Sign Language. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 16(3), 362-374.

Fant, L., & Fant, B.B. (2008). The American Sign Language phrase book. (3rd ed.). NYC, NY: McGraw-Hill Co. Inc.

Goldin-Meadow, S. (Autumn2004). Gestsure’s role in the Learning Process. Theory into Practice. DOI: 10.1207/s15430421tip4304_10.

Heslinga, V., & Nevenglosky, E. (Spring/Summer 2012). Inclusion, Signing, Socialization, and Language Skills. Electronic Journal for Inclusive Education, 2(9). vol2/iss9/4

Hilger, A.I., Loucks, T.M.J., Quinto-Pozos, D., & Dye, M.W.G. (Jul2015). Second language acquisition across modalities: Production variability in adult L2 learners of American Sign Language. Second Language Research, 31(3), 375-388.DOI: 10.1177/0267658315570648.

Hoecker, J.L. (23 Mar 2016). Infant and toddler health. Mayo Clinic.

Hogan, K. (2016). Nonverbal Thinking, Communication, Imitation, and Play Skills with Some Things to Remember. TEACCH Autism Program. UNC School of Medicine. Retrieved from

Jay, M. (2011). A student’s guide to mastering ASL grammar. Los Angeles, CA: Judea Media, LLC.

Johnson, G. (24 Sep 2012). 32 Uses and Benefits of American Sign Language (ASL) for Silent Communication. Resources for Life.

Krauss, J., & Boss, S. (2013). Thinking through project-based learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Lantolf, J. P., & Poehner, M.E. (2014). Sociocultural theory and the pedagogical imperative in L2 education: Vygotskian praxis and the research/practice divide (ESL & Applied Linguistics Professional Series). NYC, NY: Routledge.

Menegale, M. (Ed.). (2013). Autonomy in language learning: Getting learners actively involved. Canterbury, UK: IATEFL, Darwin College.

Mills, N., Pjares, F., & Herron, C. (2007). Self-efficacy of college intermediate French students: Relation to achievement and motivation. Language Learning, 57(3), 417-422. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9922.2007. 00421.x

Montessori, M. (2010). The absorbent mind. Poland: Beta Nu Publishing.

Mohan Raj, S. (2016). Role of Humour in Second Language Teaching and Acquisition. Language in India, 16(4), 27-33.

National Disability Resource & Advocacy Center (NDRAC, 2017). Inclusive Education. NDRAC.

Piai, V, Roelofs, A., Rommers, J., & Maris, E. (July, 2015). Beta Oscillations Reflect Memory and Motor Aspects of Spoken Word Production. Human Brain Mapping. 36(7), 2767-2780. MEDLINE Complete, EBSCOhost.

Reading, S., & Padgett, R. J. (Dec 2011). Communication Connections: Service Learning and American Sign Language. American Journal of Audiology, 20. doi: 10.1044/1059-0889(2011/10-0029).

Reddy, S. (22 June 2015). The Benefits of Fidgeting for Students with ADHD. Wall Street Journal.

Reifman, S. (2014). 22 Habits that empower students: How to develop habits of Mind and habits of character in the elementary classroom. USA: Amazon Media.

Rivera, M. C., & Antia, S. D. (1 Apr 2016). Inclusive Education for Students Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Raising and Educating Deaf Children. Oxford University Press Journals.

Simms, L., & Baker, S. (2014). Visual Communication and Sign Language Checklist for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children (VCSL). Gallaudet University, Retrieved from /vcsl/

Solman, P. (9 June 2016). How do humans gain power? By Sharing it. PBS Newshour. Retrieved from

Test, A. W., & Bartholomew, A. (2011). Universal Design for Learning and Secondary Transition Planning for Students with Disabilities: 101. National Secondary Transition Technical Assistance Center.

Torres, E.B. (2013). Signatures of movement variability anticipate hand speed according to levels of intent. Behavioral and Brain Functions: BBF, 910. doi:10. 1186/1744-9081-9-10.

Vallotton, C. D., & Ayoub, C. C. (2010). Symbols build communication and thought: The role of gestures and words in the development of engagement skills and social-emotional concepts during toddlerhood. Social Development, 19(3), 601–626. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9507.2009.00549.x

Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.



  • There are currently no refbacks.


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License


If you find difficulties in submitting manuscript please forward your doc file to Our support team will assist you in submission process and other technical matters.

In order to get notifications on inbox please add in your email safe list.

Journal of Arts and Humanities (Print) ISSN:2167-9045

Journal of Arts and Humanities (Online) ISSN: 2167-9053

[Journal of Arts and Humanities previously published by MIR Center for Socio-Economic Research, MD, USA. From February 2018 this journal is published by the LAR Center Press, OR, USA]