Daigle, D., C. Dubuisson, A.-M. Parisot et A. Vercaingne-Ménard (soumis) "The bilingual approach : Six years of experimentation with children in the province of Quebec", Fit for the future. 20th International Congress on the Education of the Deaf (ICDE), Maastricht, Pays-Bas, 17-20 juillet 2005.
In 1997, the Quebec Ministry of Education charged a team of researchers and educational practitioners with developing a project in which a bilingual French/Quebec Sign Language (LSQ) educational approach would be implemented and assessed in a primary school for deaf children. In our talk, the different stages of development of the adopted bilingual approach will be presented. Then, the assessment of the students' progress in their L1 (LSQ) and L2 (French) will be discussed. The parameters chosen to define the bilingual approach that was adopted will also be presented, briefly. These parameters consist mainly in: 1) the concepts of first and second language (Pinker, 1994), 2) the types of bilingualism (Cummins, 1979), 3) the roles of sign language (Mahshie, 1995) and of oral language (Vercaingne-Ménard, 2001) within the approach, and 4) the access to the culture associated with each language (Lewis et al., 1995). The framework judged the most appropriate to improve the written language skills of deaf children (based on the notion of prior knowledge as proposed by Paul, 1998) will be presented. We will describe the various tools that were used to assess LSQ and French. In the case of LSQ, different assessment tools were created. Only the results from a tool inspired by Padden & Ramsey (2000) to assess ASL will be presented. In this repetition task, the children's use of space was assessed by asking them to repeat LSQ sentences. French language skills we also tested using different tools. For this presentation only the results of a reading comprehension task will be reported. The specific elements on which the children were assessed were 1) locus set up and reference in LSQ and 2) locating and inferencing in written French. Looking at these specifie elements permitted the comparison of similar processes in both languages. The results indicate that there is a link between locus set up and locating as well as between reference and inferencing. In conclusion, the limits of our longitudinal study will be discussed and recommendations will be given for a future implementation of the bilingual approach for deaf children across the province of Quebec.