Schönström, K. (2021). Sign languages and second language acquisition research: An introduction. Journal of the European Second Language Association, 5(1), 30–43. http://doi.org/10.22599/jesla.73 

Abstract

In recent years there has been a growing interest in sign second language acquisition (SSLA). However, research in this area is sparse. As signed and spoken languages are expressed in different modalities, there is a great potential for broadening our understanding of the mechanisms and the acquisition processes of learning a (second) language through SSLA research. In addition, the application of existing SLA knowledge to sign languages can bring new insights into the generalizability of SLA theories and descriptions, to see whether they hold true for sign languages. In this paper I give a brief overview of sign language and SSLA research, together with insights from the research on iconicity and gestures and its role for SSLA, including examples from my own studies on L2 signers. The paper concludes with a discussion of both the potential and challenges of combining sign language and SLA research, providing some notes towards directions for future research.

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