English uses a strict basic word order for expressing the grammatical relations SUBJECT VERB OBJECT (SVO) in simple sentences such as the following:
Students read books.
The author of the web site will include a variety of topics.
In these sentences, the SUBJECT phrases are underlined first, the VERB phrases second, and the OBJECT phrases third. In English, the SUBJECT precedes the verb and is perceived to perform the action expressed by the VERB, which follows the SUBJECT. The OBJECT follows the VERB and is perceived to receive or be affected by the action expressed by the VERB. (This module does not discuss other kinds of objects in a sentence, such as the object of a preposition.)
English language learners quickly acquire the basic SVO word order of simple sentences. With normal hearing, learners also go on to acquire the other, more complex structures of English that do not reflect the basic SVO order of simple sentences. Full access to the sounds and intonations of spoken English allows hearing learners, over a relative short period of time, to acquire all of the simple and complex structures of the language naturally and effortlessly.
In the case deaf learners who do not have full access to the sounds and intonations of English, acquisition of the range of complex English structures can be a lifelong challenge. Provided they understand the relevant vocabulary, deaf learners are quite successful in producing and comprehending SVO structures. However, mastery of structures in which the SVO order is "disturbed" in certain ways is a challenge for many deaf students. This difficulty with English grammatical structure can have a major impact on deaf students' reading abilities and written expression and, ultimately, their educational success.
The discussion below refers to specific grammatical categories by their technical grammatical terms. These terms are used in order to be able to talk about the complexities of English sentence structures. However, it is not necessary for the site visitor to master the use of these terms. Instead, the goal is to sharpen the insights of teachers of deaf students so that they can appreciate the challenges that English poses to their students and so that they can optimally support their students ongoing English acquisition.