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The Baobab: A Bilingual ASL/English Storybook App
Supported Platforms: iOS - iPad (All Versions) and iPad Mini
Languages: American Sign Language and English
Price: $4.99, available on Apple iTunes Store
Recommended for: Early and emerging readers, ages 5 & up
- Interactive and bilingual ASL/English storybook app designed for visual learners, especially deaf children
- Original story, first developed through ASL storytelling and then told through English print
- Available on the App Store
- Design principles are based on research foundations, namely the science of learning on visual language and learning
The Baobab is an original story about a curious little girl who goes on a search for a rare, delicious fruit growing from an ancient baobab tree. She encounters many different animals and finds herself in a peculiar situation! Children will enjoy the daring little girl's mishaps and adventures, the rich ASL storytelling, and the captivating watercolor illustrations.
- Original story told in ASL and English
- Easy & accessible navigation designed for children
- Rich interactive narrative with direct English-to-ASL video translation
- 170-word American Sign Language glossary. Parents can learn ASL along with their child
- Vivid Retina-supported watercolor illustrations
- App design is based on proven research in bilingualism and visual learning
Key Research Principles:
The benefits of bilingualism--for both hearing and deaf language learners--have become more and more apparent in recent years. We know from research that a child’s early exposure to bilingualism provides fundamental advantages in cognition, language, and literacy. This finding is true for bilinguals whose languages are both spoken and for bilinguals who sign one language and read and write in another. In fact, this early bilingual advantage does not go away; research confirms that the cognitive and language benefits that come from being bilingual continue throughout the lifetime.
The new series of VL2 ASL-English storybook apps for the iPad builds upon findings from research done on deaf bilingual children. For one, we know that proficiency in a visual language, American Sign Language, has been positively correlated with English literacy and spoken language development. Opportunities that provide engagement with visual language and printed literacy place deaf children on a path towards fluent bilingualism.
By being exposed to examples of extended use of sign language (such as stories), deaf children are provided opportunities to develop cognitive flexibility and metalinguistic abilities, and these, in turn, help to facilitate the development of English literacy skills. Research from VL2 and other centers shows that early visual language experience offers far-reaching advantages for a deaf child’s linguistic, communicative, cognitive, academic, literacy, and psychosocial development.
Children, parents, and educators who use this app can watch the story in ASL, read along with the English text at the bottom of the screen, and watch videos--with sound--of the translation of selected words in the text. A rich body of work in early literacy indicates that fingerspelling helps vocabulary acquisition and helps form a phonological level of language access for deaf children. The apps make use of the advantages of fingerspelling, even incorporating commonly used linking techniques such as “sandwiching,” where a word is signed, then fingerspelled, and then signed once again. Because of what we know about the importance of fluent language models in the teaching of the grammar of a visual language, the storyteller in The Baobab is a fluent signer.
Project Director and Creator:
The Baobab and the VL2 storybook app series are designed and managed by Melissa Malzkuhn, VL2’s Digital Innovation & Media Strategies Manager.
App Store: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/the-baobab/id585916034?mt=8
Overview on Visual Language and Visual Learning: Visual Language and Visual Learning (VL2) is a Science of Learning Center in the United States, one of six funded by the National Science Foundation, and it is based at Gallaudet University in Washington D.C. VL2 is a collaborative effort with more than 15 labs nationwide, all interested in the visual learning process. We seek to understand more about how learning through visual processes, visual language, and visually based social experience contributes to the development of language, reading, and literacy, and in ways that provide fascinating cognitive and linguistic advantages to the young visual learner. We seek this knowledge for the benefit of all humans.
Overview on Gallaudet University: Gallaudet University, federally chartered in 1864, is a bilingual, diverse, multicultural institution of higher education that ensures the intellectual and professional advancement of deaf and hard of hearing individuals through American Sign Language and English. Gallaudet maintains a proud tradition of research and scholarly activity and prepares its graduates for career opportunities in a highly competitive, technological, and rapidly changing world.
- For information about the VL2 storybook apps: Melissa.Malzkuhn@gallaudet.edu
- For specific information about VL2: firstname.lastname@example.org
- For Gallaudet Communications and Public Relations: Kaitlin.Luna@gallaudet.edu
- App Support - email@example.com
Promotional Video: Coming Soon!
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