Listening Topic: Communication – Radio report about babies and sign language

A. Listen to the radio report. Then choose the correct answer to the question.

What is the main reason that parents are learning to use sign language?

      a   They want to communicate with deaf people.

      b   They want to help their babies to communicate.

      c   They want their babies to speak earlier.

B. Listen to the report again. As you listen, choose the correct answer to complete each statement. Listen again if necessary.

 The interview is taking place _____.

      a   at a radio station

      b   at a sign language class

      c   on a street corner

 In the sign language classes, teachers teach signs to _____.

      a   babies

      b   parents

      c   researchers

 The babies in the sign language class are _____.

      a   all the same age

      b   about two

      c   different ages

 Parents like to use sign language because _____.

      a   it helps them understand what their children want

      b   it stops them from screaming at their children

      c   it stops the children from speaking

 Researchers noticed that deaf children learn to sign _____.

      a   earlier than hearing children learn to speak

      b   more quickly than hearing children do

      c   later than hearing children do

 Sign language may help children _____.

      a   become more intelligent

      b   learn to speak earlier

      c   both a. and b.





1 b   2 b   3 c   4 a   5 a   6 c


A = Reporter, B = Joan Lee

A:   Good morning and welcome to the show. Today’s topic should be interesting to anyone who has ever had to deal with a screaming and frustrated toddler!

Most children start to speak somewhere around the age of two, but they often want to communicate well before that. So some parents are trying a new way to help their small children communicate earlier: using sign language.

I’m watching a baby sign language class at Parent’s Corner in Lower Manhattan, and I’m talking to Joan Lee, who’s the director of the program. Joan, good morning!

B:   Good morning!

A:   So these babies are learning sign language?

B:   Well, we don’t … we’re not exactly teaching the babies. We’re teaching the parents some basic signs that they can use with their babies.

A:   What kind of signs are you teaching them?

B:   Well we start with signs for the most important things in babies’ lives … signs for things like “more,” “milk,” “up” … that kind of thing.

A:   The things babies need to say!

B:   Yes, exactly.

A:   Where did the signs come from? Did you make them up?

B:   Oh no. Most of the signs are taken from ASL … American Sign Language.

A:   How old are the babies?

B:   The youngest is four months, and the oldest is about eighteen months.

A:   That’s incredible! Now what are the advantages of doing this?

B:   Well, mainly it’s much easier for the parents, and actually for the babies too, if they can communicate. You can figure out what they want. It’s very frustrating when your child is creaming his dead off and you don’t know what he’s … what he wants.

A:   I see. Where did this idea come from?

B:   From watching deaf children. Some years ago, researchers noticed that deal children learn to use hand signals earlier, much earlier, than hearing children learn to speak. So they wondered if all children could use hand signals before using words. And it seems that they can.

A:   Now that raises another question, though. How do children move into speaking from this? I mean, isn’t there a danger that they get so good at sign language that they don’t speak?

B:   No, actually the opposite seems to be true. Signing … um using hand signals … may actually help children develop language earlier.

A:   That’s interesting.

B:   There’s also some evidence that it raises children’s intelligence. There was one test done where babies that signed scored twelve points higher on an IQ test than babies that didn’t.

A:   That’s fascinating! If you would like to find out some more information about using sign language with babies, log on to our Web site at …

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