Chloe Marshall is Professor of Psychology, Language and Education at the UCL Institute of Education, and is affiliated with the Deafness, Cognition and Language Research Centre at UCL. Having initially trained as a Montessori teacher and taught in preschools for several years, she returned to university to study linguistics and carry out research with children who have developmental language disorders. Her research currently focuses on sign language acquisition in deaf children and hearing adults.
Children differ from one another in all aspects of cognitive development, and language development is no exception. One major source of individual differences in the language development of deaf children who are learning a sign language is the quality and quantity of sign language they are exposed to. Another source of individual differences has more recently come to light following a major research project at the Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre in the UK. In this project, we have discovered that some deaf children have a language-learning difficulty in comparison to their deaf peers, regardless of how rich their language input is. I will present the research from this project, including details of how we set about identifying developmental language disorder (DLD) in deaf signers, and what similarities and differences we found compared to hearing children diagnosed with DLD. I will discuss the implications of our findings for teaching.