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The European Journal of Social & Behavioural Sciences

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The Sign Language and Spoken/Written Language of Bilingual Method for Hearing-Impaired Children in Pre-Schools in Latvia

Abstract

Problem statement: to explore the theoretical aspects of the bilingual method related to the acquisition of the sign language and Spoken/Written language for hearing-impaired children. Purpose of Study: to identify in the article the correlations of the theoretical and empirical research on the bilingual method related to the language acquisition process of hearing-impaired children and its impact on the acquisition of key skills of the sign language and Spoken/Written language for children having serious hearing-impairment at a pre-school educational establishment; provision of the selection of pedagogical methods and the link between the sign language and Spoken/Written language for hearing-impaired children at a pre-school educational establishment. Research methods: The theoretical analysis of the bilingual method in relation to the language skills and special practical approaches letting explore the reading and writing skills of hearing-impaired children referring to the sign language and Spoken/Written language within the bilingual method for children with serious hearing-impairment. The results of the research correspond to the theoretical standpoints and the researches of other countries. They show the link between the gradual acquisition of the sign language and Spoken/Written language dynamics for children with serious hearing-impairment setting priorities for children in the choice of the sign or verbal language acquisition. The results of the research indicate a dynamic link between the acquisition of the sign and Spoken/Written language skills in the learning process for hearing-impaired children at pre-school educational establishments. Conclusions: a correct choice and impact of pedagogical methods in the acquisition of the sign and Spoken/Written language skills taking into consideration the language acquisition peculiarities for children with serious hearing-impairment. The overview and analysis of the theoretical and practical material let think of the regularities of the sign Spoken/Written and language acquisition which will help improve the learning process for hearing-impaired children at pre-school educational establishments. Qualitatively applying these techniques and this method the language acquisition process for children with serious hearing-impairment is made positive and dynamic.Keywords: Sign languagespoken/written languagebilingual methodsdeaf children

Introduction

The principles of contemporary education state that the approach is one of the most important procedural issues in educational content. It reflects how the research object is seen in whole, and determines the way for mastering conceptual scientific practical knowledge of the subject.

During the learning process, it is necessary to establish the language which can be used by hearing-impaired children without any difficulties in order to ensure that they do not have the feeling of discomfort which does not foster efficient mastering of education content. Instead of focusing on the acquirements and skills that the child has not developed sufficiently during the learning process, the attention must be paid on the acquirements and skills that have been well developed, as well as on the use of these acquirements and skills for reaching the objective. The author of this publication depicts the Bilingual Learning Method of the sign language and the spoken/written language for hearing-impaired children in pre-schools.

Problem Statement

The publication provides an opportunity to take a look at the Bilingual Learning Method of the sign language and the spoken/written language for hearing-impaired children in pre-schools. The subject of the publication is very topical due to the fact that currently there are discussions held on the integration of hearing-impaired children in general educational system. However, the other question is if the teachers of general educational establishments are ready to teach these children and what is the level of knowledge of the teachers who are specialized for providing education in both of the aforementioned languages in special educational establishments.

Research Questions

What methods of special pedagogy ensure the balance between the Sign Language and Spoken/Written Language for Hearing- Impaired Children?

Purpose of the Study

The aim of is to depict and analyze the results of the research on psychosocial educational environment of hearing-impaired children. The results of the research show that there is a constant and statistically significant link between the level of pedagogue’s sign language knowledge and the acquirements and skills of the children in mastering and developing the sign language and the spoken/written language. The publication provides not only the justification for balanced Bilingual Learning Method but also the review of similar research that has been previously made with references on the conclusions made by various other authors. The author of the publication presents the Bilingual Learning Method of the sign language and the spoken/written language for hearing-impaired children in pre-schools of Latvia.

Research Methods

The methods used in the research include the review of literature on linguistic didactic methods (lingua-didactic) that are used for the learning process in pre-schools, as well as the approaches to these methods. When using the communicative approach and collective mastering of the language, it is very important that the pupils/children demonstrate their initiative and activity. The pupils/children act actively and improvise various ways for mastering the language. In such a situation, the teacher has to offer sufficient number of creative tasks that foster activities, as well as to encourage active use of all available resources so that the pupils/children, who master the language, can reach all previously stated objectives.

The method includes the system of didactic approaches and cooperation between the pedagogues and the children (language learners); it ensures the possibility to master certain knowledge, skills and competences. The method is applied in accordance with a certain approach, and it contains clearly stated learning tasks and objectives, a well structured plan of pedagogical activities, the set of certain tasks and exercises, the resources that correspond to the learning objective, and the forms of interaction among the participants of the learning process that ensure planned learning outcome.

When choosing the learning method, the following aspect must be taken into consideration: stated learning objectives, learning contents, individual characteristics of the children, the use of training materials, the methodological taste of the teacher (Andersone, 2007).

Approach differs from methods; it determines the choice of learning objectives, differentiation, sequence, establishes the system of didactic principles, the contents of learning, as well as the way of presenting and the methodological interpretation of learning (Laiveniece, 2002). The approach to mastering the language is the theoretical concept of language learning contents and the process of it which is implemented in practical pedagogical work and directs the language learner towards certain activities “learning that is individually accessible, personally significant, and corresponds to the interests of learners’ age (Laiveniece, 2004).

The lingua-didactic approach is created on the basis of acknowledgements on the nature of language and speech production forms. Within the framework of certain approach, there are various tasks for mastering the language assigned; during the fulfillment of these tasks, the needs, interests, specifics of cognition activity, language learning strategies, difficulties in learning and producing the language and other aspects of the language learner are taken into consideration. The approach, unlike the method, determines certain aims of mastering the language but it does not determine the methods of it; for example: mastering speaking skills and the ability to read certain text types, developing writing skills, developing and improving the skills and acquisitions in the sign language and the spoken/written language. Some approaches envisage a set of certain methods and ways that suit the best for the previously established objectives.

The most common approaches to mastering the language are the following: the structural (formal) approach according to H. Palmer, A. Hornby; the spoken/written (oral) approach according to J. Fatter; the functional approach according to J. Owens; the communicative approach according to H. Widdowson; the integrated approach according to Baker (2002); the uniform approach according to E. Kern; and others.

provides an opportunity to master language learning skills in by taking advantage of various communicative situations, but it does not ensure the mastering of language accuracy in the speech. When working with hearing-impaired children, the communicative approach does not ensure the possibility to transfer the mastered skills and acquired knowledge to non-standard situation and creates the difficulty for these children to use them in unfamiliar situations.

The communicative approach in language learning develops the skills of the language learner to use deliberately the language in various communicative situations, but often it does not ensure good knowledge of language rules and the ability to use them in speech. When working with hearing-impaired children, the communicative approach does not ensure the possibility to transfer the mastered skills and acquired knowledge to non-standard situation. Consequently, it creates difficulties for these children to use the mastered knowledge in unfamiliar situations. Successful combination of both elements of the previously used and the new approaches, as well as the application of contemporary methodology of language teaching and the choice of the contents that corresponds to the level of cognitive development and natural interests of the children ensures the possibility for good language learning quality (Laiveniece, 2004; Widdowson, 1978).

The communicative grammar is the system of grammatical occurrences that reveals the importance of its elements for expressing certain communicative functions. If the language learning which is focused on communicative skills, the grammatical structures are chosen in compliance with the content of the expressed message; they are reflected in models and applied for expressing certain communication functions and mastered in the context of language use.

The signs of the communicative approach are the following: the approach is focused towards activity; all language skills are mastered; communicative grammar is mastered; understanding of authentic communication, situations in spoken language and its rules; targeted communication; use of various communicative strategies; innovation and creation of the language; active cooperation when solving certain communicative tasks.

Various acts of spoken language take place during the process of language learning where the language users have to choose the appropriate means for learning due to the fact that the emphasis is put on finding out the meaning of the words by using the language which is already known to the learner and by combining them with the newly mastered knowledge about the notions and skills (Rutherford, 1987). Various methods are used for language learning that ensure “completion of learning, uprising and development tasks in the learning process as well as reaching the aims of education” (collective of authors managed by Skujina, 2000).

Aspects of the direct method in language learning by comparing the Spoken/Written Language for Hearing-Impaired Children to a foreign language according to Richards and Rodgers (1986):

  • lessons are conducted only in target language;
  • only the words and sentences daily used are mastered;
  • oral communication skills are carefully planned and take place between the teacher and children in small groups in the form of questions and answers;
  • grammar is taught in inductive way;
  • the new themes are introduced by using the sign language and fostered by using spoken language;
  • certain words are taught by using demonstrations, objects and pictures, associations are used for teaching abstract words.

The method of mastering language is a set of approaches used for mutual cooperation between the teacher and the pupils/children which is necessary for the implementation of lingua-didactic principles of a certain language learning approach, as well as for reaching the aim of language learning and task completion. It is used for creating “a general plan for learning used for presenting the language learning material.”

In case of hearing-impaired children, the functional approach to learning the language is considered as generally or widely used component which determines the motivation of the child, as well as the organization for mastering other acquirements and skills.

The pragmatic basis and primary role are ensured by the fact that hearing-impaired children practically use/apply all language components, i.e., develop both impressive (understanding) and expressive (spoken/written) language.

The grammatical competence, according to Chomsky, is considered as the ideal language competence that includes knowledge which is necessary for creating sentences, the pragmatic competence shows the understanding of language use in various contexts (Chomsky, 1988), and according to Cummins (1980), it shows cognitive language competence and interpersonal communication skills. The first of them (cognitive) reflects the ability of language learner to operate, outside the direct communication context, with the occurrences expressed by the language where the most important focus is put on the form of the language. The other (interpersonal) communication skills are attributed to the children so that they could successfully interact in the process of communication.

When choosing the learning methods, the following must be taken into consideration:

  • stated learning objectives,
  • learning contents,
  • individual traits of children,
  • use of the training aids,
  • methodological taste of the pedagogue (Andersone, 2007).

When emphasizing the stimulating role of the learning method which shows that important place of the curricula in the chain of reactions: “first of all, the aim and activities of the teacher are envisaged by using all available resources, and after that incite the aim and activities of a pupil by using the resources that are available for them”, in the result of this, the pupils/children master the content of learning and reach the stated objective. It all ensures successful learning outcome. This outcome can be used as the criterion for the development of the chosen method that corresponds to the stated objective which is depicted in the section of the results and discourse.

The completion and development of cognitive processes are very important for hearing-impaired children. This method fosters the flexibility of cognition processes for hearing-impaired children, i.e., ability to perceive the information in a tolerant way and to develop creative capabilities. It must be noted that one of the advantages of the Bilingual Learning Method is the experience gained by the children which equalizes for the children their cognitive abilities of mastering the language. The Bilingual Learning Method has advantage over dual coding method which is proven by that fact that the communicative sensitivity is stable and unceasing. The close link established between the sign language and the written/spoken language and cognitive function indicates that the Bilingual Method definitely has positive impact on thinking and development processes which will be depicted in the analysis of the results obtained during the research.

Findings

On the basis of strategic activity of the Bilingual Learning Method developed by the author, we can understand that it can be used as learning aid by putting emphasis on the importance of socio-cultural and emotional environment in successful development of hearing-impaired children. The pedagogues of educational establishment replace the parents up to a certain extent (in loco parentis) and assume their functions in the development of the language and social skills by using both sign language and written/spoken language. Nowadays, one of the most important strategically aimed activities is the development of sign language and spoken/written language on cognitive and communication activities for hearing-impaired children.

One of the general basis for the Bilingual Learning Method and the indication of problem is the pedagogical environment and organizational moments in the learning process due to the fact that they play an important role in the development and perfection of the language system by emphasizing the possibilities of sign and spoken/written language use in various segments of the learning process. The justification of the pedagogical environment is linked with mastering both the sign language and the spoken/written language. The participation of the pedagogues with hearing-impairment in the pedagogical process is associated with the use of the sign language, cooperation culture and good fellowship. The pedagogues with hearing impairment help to perfect the skills of the sign language use by hearing- impaired children.

In order to describe one of the most important indicators of the Bilingual Learning Method, which is the pedagogical environment, there was an opinion poll (with questionnaires) conducted. The data of the opinion poll show that the pedagogues with hearing impairment play a great role in the learning process for developing and perfecting the sign language. Nevertheless one of the most important conditions for the hearing-impaired children is the role-played by the pedagogue without hearing impairment in the development of the spoken/written language and its use in appropriate situation.

On the basis of one of the most important indicators of the Bilingual Learning Method which is the pedagogical environment there was an opinion poll conducted, and the data obtained were processed by using SPSS:17. The opinion poll of 12 pedagogues who work with hearing-impaired children was conducted in a specialized pre-school educational establishment. At the same time, there was the opinion poll of 14 parents of hearing-impaired children, who attend that respective pre-school establishment, was conducted.

Student’s (t) criteria test for the comparison of two relative frequencies was replaced by the test of Binominal criteria (m) which ensures possible comparison of the influence criteria (Martinsone & Pipere, 2011, p. 202). The choice of the author to use the Binominal (m) criteria test was determined by the proportion of the empiric division and theoretical division where n≤ 50, due to the fact that the respondents in the research selection are: n = 14 (parents) and n = 12 (pedagogues). By using the Binominal Criteria Test, the language in which the pedagogues communicate with the children was established; according to the results of the research, category “the sign language” in is used the communication by 8 pedagogues who work in that establishment, but only 4 of them used the spoken/written language, so the empiric data can only be approximately compared to the theoretical division. In this case, the level of the significance Exact Sig. where p≤ 0,388 cannot be ignored due to the fact that the level of the significance is p≤ 0,05 where the statistic significance is p (level), where n = 12 and in the other selection where n = 14.

When analyzing the results of the statistic criteria concerning the interconnections of the data measured in the coherence scale according to the r test of Pierson’s Correlation Coefficient where r ≥0.7 indicates on close interconnection between the pedagogues and parents due to the fact that there is Asymp. Sig. (2- sided) r ≥0.922 which is 50% and more from the common dispersion; in the meanwhile, Sig. (2-sided) indicates that there is a mutual link (Nasledov, 2006). However, the value of statistic zero hypothesis of the question is 0.918 which is a very high value for internal coherence and stability of the hypothesis; consequently there is a transfer to external coherence. The aforementioned proves that it is possible to develop the scale of influence with sufficiently high internal coherence, which means that there is sufficient safety of the influence scale.

Empirical results on the influence of the psychosocial environment on hearing- impaired children in pre-school educational establishment that were processed by using SPSS:17 depict the development of the skills and acquirements in the sign language and the spoken/written language. Consequently, it provides grounds for the discussions on the use of both types of the language by the pedagogues in the learning process and their interrelation with the skills and acquirements of the children in the given languages. On the basis of this research, we can take a look at “Bilingual Learning Method of the sign language and the spoken/written language for hearing-impaired children” which is offered by the author of the publication

The learning method means the system of techniques for the didactic cooperation between the pedagogue and the child which is used for mastering new knowledge, skills and acquirements; in the meanwhile, it develops also cognition abilities. Each hearing-impaired child has the right to obtain education by taking into consideration the psycho-physical possibilities of the individual and the learning necessity. The learning process is organized in such a way that hearing-impaired children demonstrate their independence, awareness and initiative in learning process (Zogla, 2001).

Figure 1: Basis for the Bilingual Learning method for Hearing-Impaired Children (the construction made by the I. Zaiceva)
Basis for the Bilingual Learning method for Hearing-Impaired Children (the construction made by the I. Zaiceva)
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The Bilingual Learning Method for hearing-impaired children which is based on balanced use of the sign language and the spoken/written language in the learning process in pre-schools is shown in Figure 1. The given construction is depicted as a square; the corners of the square serve as the basis for four positions. Languages have eternal development and motion. When making the research on children’s language, as well as its development and perfection by taking into consideration the individual traits and properties of each child and the given specifics, we can see that, in the course of time, there is horizontal development and perfection of the specifics and methods in Bilingual Learning Method for hearing-impaired children. Nevertheless, the method which is based on educational content develops and perfects vertically. Consequently, we can conclude that that the method resembles a diversified system, but the content of it serves as a normative system. All four positions: specifics, contents, method and the gain of the children and closely interrelated; these components also supplement and perfect each other.

Table 1 depicts the basis for the Bilingual Learning Method; it is divided in four positions in the schedule:

1st position – the specifics of the given method, which is determined by its specific use in the respective environment, i.e., in pre-school educational establishment for hearing-impaired children;

2nd position –contents of the Bilingual Learning Method; 3rd position – the Bilingual Learning Method;

4th position – gain from the Bilingual Learning Method.

Table 1 - The positions of the Bilingual Learning Method according the author of the publication, I. Zaiceva
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– the contents of the education which is determined by this specific use in the respective educational environment, i.e., when working with hearing- impaired children in pre-schools, the double-specifics appears: the specifics of the child which corresponds to the respective age, i.e., pre-school age, and a hearing- impaired child.

– a systematized summarization of human social-economic and technological experience that has been systemized and corresponds to the personality and the society, as well as the requirements set by the age, and is specifically aimed at the needs of education. The educational content is determined by the aim and objectives of the education, as its specifics of the respective type and level of the education (a group of authors managed by Skujina, 2000). During the lessons, when the language is taught to hearing-impaired children, the emphasis is put on the development of the language and orientation in the environment, as well as on the development of hearing perception and pronunciation, learning the surrounding or getting to know the surroundings, as well as the events in the social life, getting to know the nature, instruction to the literature, operation with objects, development of mathematic notions, specific games when participating in role-plays.

– the amount of information that has to be mastered in a certain area of science, technology or arts, the set of skills and acquisitions that has to be mastered in line with the aim and objectives of the educational establishment, the peculiarities and rules of the specific age, ensure the gradualness and succession of the subject that is being learned (a group of authors managed by Skujina, 2000).

– it is a set of mutual cooperation of the teacher and the children that is stipulated by a certain didactic principle and envisaged for ensuring the fulfillment the learning, upbringing and development tasks in the learning process and reaching the educational aims (a group of authors managed by Skujina, 2000).

– the use of the aforementioned learning methods have the following gains: the personality development of the hearing-impaired pupil/children, activation of learning activities, fostering the development of various skills and acquisitions (Andersone, 2007).

The use of the Bilingual Learning Method in mastering the sign language and the spoken/written language for hearing-impaired children comprises all aforementioned four positions (see Figure 1):

The specifics of the Bilingual Learning Method. The development of the cognition for pre-school children is related to role-plays and the development of visual perception as the compensation for hearing impairment. The specifics of the Bilingual Learning Method envisage that the following individual traits of hearing-impaired children are taken into consideration: the level of attention steadiness, the peculiarities of thinking, peculiarities of memory, individual traits of character. The method helps hearing-impaired children to specifically develop the following: visual attention, memorizing, development of the image of object unity, the development of the ability of color, shape and size perception, as well as special perception.

The contents of the Bilingual Learning Method envisages rational approach towards the sign language and the spoken/written language, theoretical concepts, and practical work or the application of the theory. The pre- school educational program is structured in vertical and horizontal ways.

The level of knowledge creates the grounds for understanding the information at a new level. The problems are caused by increasing volume of information: with regard to this a dead-end situation can be observed – there is more and more information, but the time that is stipulated for mastering the program remains unchanged. The objectives that can be easily reached do not cause any difficulties nevertheless they do not develop the personality. Only the factors, which have been reached with a persistent work which is the combination of the activity performed by mind and soul, develop our personalities. The other developing factor is overcoming difficulties. Taking into consideration the psychological traits of hearing-impaired children, it must be taken into consideration that they have to overcome difficulties during mastering the learning contents.

The aims, objectives and methods of the Bilingual Learning Method are closely inter-related in the curricula and are situated in a certain sequence by using the following principles of didactics:

a) The principle of activity in work with hearing-impaired children envisages the inclusion of active practical speech of the language: the expressions, retelling, and telling; in such a way the child overcomes learning difficulties steadily and consciously.

b) The principle of sequence and consistency is important for hearing- impaired children because it is necessary to increase gradually the vocabulary and to make the lexis of the child more complicated.

c) The principle of gradualness, i.e., when the vocabulary is gradually deepened and made more complicated:

it is necessary to systemize the newly mastered words;

the systemization is ensured by activating the words already known;

then the new words are presented – the sequence.

d) The principle of availability or understandability.

e) The principle of obviousness.

The gains from the Bilingual Learning Method for hearing-impaired children: the method widens the mental outlook due to the fact that the child by using the mastered acquisitions, skills and knowledge is capable to operate in both socio- cultural environment at full value. In such a way, the individuals, i.e., hearing- impaired children, improve their ability to change the language skills in the respective situations. It is very important to develop and improve the cognitive cognition processes for hearing-impaired children. This method fosters the flexibility of cognitive cognition processes for hearing-impaired children, i.e., the ability to perceive the information with tolerance and develop creative abilities. It must be taken into consideration that one of the advantages of the Bilingual Learning Method is the age and experience of the children which levels out the cognitive abilities of language perception. The bilingual learning method has advantage over dual coding method which proves that fact that the communicative sensitivity is stable and unceasing. The close link of this method established between the sign language and written/spoken language and cognitive function indicates that the Bilingual Method certainly has a positive impact on thinking and development processes.

The specialized pedagogue or the surdo-pedagogues must develop the ability to learn themselves while teaching. It would provide the opportunity for hearing- impaired children to evaluate the mastered knowledge in continuous direction of their development. Consequently, the issue concerning the level of preparation of the respective pedagogues in work with hearing-impaired children becomes topical. Another topical issue is the possibility of balanced use of the Bilingual Learning Method in pedagogical work when teaching both sign language and spoken/written language.

Conclusions

1. It is important to establish the skill levels in the sign language and spoken/written language when working with hearing-impaired children. The research shows that there is a positive link and interrelation between the bilingualism and intellectual capabilities, particularly in the cases of balanced or harmonic bilingualism.

2. The use of the new approaches or methods will not successful, if they have not been sufficiently understood by the pedagogues and the language learners (children).

3. The task of the pedagogue is to create the understanding for hearing- impaired children about the necessity for the Bilingual Method, as well as to foster/create appropriate situations that motivate the child to master both languages. It must be done in a very considerate and professional way by enriching the personality of the child and by not depriving them the possibility develop.

4. Depending on the language which is the first for hearing-impaired child, this language serve as the basis for learning of the other language, which is not possible without using the first language.

5. Mastering language is an active process which is more successful in natural communicative situations; consequently, it is necessary to create and use various situations, both standard and non-standard, for hearing-impaired children.

6. In mastering spoken/written language learning, the most appropriate is analytical synthetic approach for hearing-impaired children, from which during the next stage of learning, the shift is made to uniform and integrated approach.

7. In case of hearing-impaired children, who come from the family without hearing impairment, the sign language has to be mastered by using communicative approach.

8. On the basis of developed Bilingual Learning Method for hearing-impaired children, it is necessary to create and perfect the contents of learning and subject in pre-school specialized educational establishments by defining strictly the ways of using language during the classes.

9. The pedagogues without hearing impairment must know the sign language at sufficient level so that they could understand the children with hearing impairment and help to express themselves by using spoken/written language. In the meanwhile, the hearing-impaired pedagogues must be good at spoken/written language and to ensure that the hearing-impaired children use the spoken/written language at the same time, i.e., movement of lips of the speech.

10. In the next stage – the research of the method, it will be depicted how the Bilingual Method works with hearing-impaired children and what should be done to ensure that it works.

Acknowledgements

The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.

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About this article

Published online: 01.12.2012
Pages: 512-526
Publisher: Cognitive-crcs
Article Type: Original Research
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