Researchers still have a lot to learn about how deaf and hard of hearing children navigate learning at least two languages, both signed and spoken. How to tackle this topic was the focus of the Inclusive Assessment of Multi-Modal Multilinguals Institute (IAM3), held at Sweden’s Stockholm University in June. Seven of the 16 graduate students selected to participate in the intensive program were from Gallaudet: Casey Spelman, Melody Schwenk, and Carly Leannah, who are all pursuing a Ph.D. in Educational Neuroscience, as well as Martin Dale-Hench, G-‘23; Desirée L. Kirst, G-’23; Kaj Kraus, G-‘2023, and Nicky Macias, G-’23, from the Linguistics program.

six students standing with arms around each other posing outside under trees.
The summer institute was a chance for Gallaudet students from Educational Neuroscience and Linguistics to work together. Pictured here from left are Carly Leannah, Desiree Kirst, Casey Spelman, Melody
Schwenk, Nicky Macias, and Martin Dale-Hench.

“IAM3 was an immersive learning opportunity that felt like a year of graduate school packed into two and a half weeks,” says Spelman, who was drawn to its unique focus and emphasis on supporting graduate work. Schwenk appreciated that it aligned with her interest in how multilingualism influences how people think. “This program caught my attention because it seemed to offer me a new vocabulary for how to describe my ideas,” she says. The training centered on the theoretical framework of “translanguaging,” which the IAM3 website describes as a way to look “at how children and adults use their multiple languages successfully in various communication situations.”

Led by faculty from the Rochester Institute of Technology, IAM3 brought in a variety of experts from the United States and Europe to present on their research. The schedule was also packed with workshops on topics such as data visualization, integrating quantitative and qualitative written data, and summarizing and reporting data. For the final two days, students presented on their current projects and got feedback.

“I always enjoy watching students present their work because you can see their passion for it,” Spelman says. “One of my biggest takeaways is to lean on other colleagues in the sign language research field. Sometimes research feels isolating, and IAM3 reminded me that other people — worldwide — have similar interests and can help improve my work.”

IAM3 was also a nudge to connect with fellow Gallaudet students. “I thought it was really nice to see people that I know as well as finally put faces to names that have come up in conversation,” adds Schwenk, who enjoyed meeting new friends from Linguistics.

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