Stockholms universitet

Moa GärdenforsUniversitetslektor

Om mig

Jag heter Moa Gärdenfors och arbetar som forskare och vikarierande universitetslektor i lingvistik med inriktning mot dövas och hörselskadades flerspråkighet, med ett särskilt fokus på hur kunskaper i teckenspråk kan speglas i deras skrift. 

För närvarande leder jag två forskningsprojekt. Det första undersöker ur ett sociolingvistiskt och bimodalt tvåspråkigt perspektiv hur hörande barn (CODA, Children of Deaf Adults) i åldrarna 2–5 år, vars språk inte är fullt utvecklade, kommunicerar med sina döva och hörselskadade teckenspråkiga föräldrar. Det andra projektet är en förlängning av mitt avhandlingsarbete om döva och hörselskadade barns skrivande. Här håller jag på att samla in skriven data från döva och hörselskadade barn och ungdomar vilket bl.a. inkluderar att utöka projektet till att bli en diakron studie, där skriven data samlas in från samma barn/ungdomar men med cirka 5 års mellanrum. Vidare siktar vi också mot att göra deras skrivna texter tillgängliga i en korpus.

Min omfattande forskarerfarenhet har jag fått från min tid som forskare, lektor, doktorand och forskningsassistent, där jag medverkat i flera projekt inom områden som bimodal tvåspråkighet, teckenspråk, neuro-,/psykolingvistik, datorlingvistik och sociolingvistik. Under dessa projekt har jag, förutom att skriva både populärvetenskapliga och vetenskapliga peer-reviewed artiklar, ingått i samarbeten med andra lärosäten, rest runt i Sverige, samlat in olika typer av data, bistått med analysarbeten, samt skrivit etikansökan samt rapporter.

Min undervisningserfarenhet sträcker sig tio år tillbaka, där jag har undervisat både på folkhögskolenivå och på universitetsnivå, både i praktiska och teoretiska kurser. Vid Stockholms universitet har jag främst undervisat i Svenska som andraspråk för döva samt i Kandidatprogrammet i Teckenspråk och Tolkning (KTT). 


I urval från Stockholms universitets publikationsdatabas

  • Writing Development in DHH Students: A Bimodal Bilingual Approach

    2023. Moa Gärdenfors. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education 28 (2), 211-225


    This article describes the lexical and syntactic development of written narratives in 24 deaf and hard-of-hearing (DHH) students aged between 8 and 18 and takes into account how their varying linguistic backgrounds may predict their written performance. All participants use spoken Swedish, but the study also considers their proficiency in Swedish Sign language, which ranged from zero to fluent. Their narrative texts were analyzed in regard to syntax and lexicon, which demonstrated a strong developmental trend in which increased age predicted more complex texts. Age of acquisition did not predict any writing outcome, which is suggested to occur because all participants were exposed to language early, that is, within the critical time window for language acquisition. Sign language proficiency showed a tendency to predict adjective density and number of clauses, which encourages future research in this area, especially since this connection argues for the benefits of early access to a language and the positive relationship between sign language proficiency and writing.

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  • Written products and writing processes in Swedish deaf and hard of hearing children: an explorative study on the impact of linguistic background

    2023. Moa Gärdenfors, Victoria Johansson. Frontiers in Psychology 14


    The small body of research on writing and writing processes in the group of deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) children has shown that this group struggles more with writing than their hearing peers. This article aims to explore in what ways the DHH group differs from their peers regarding the written product and the writing processes. Participants are all in the age span 10-12 years old and include: (a) 12 DHH children with knowledge of Swedish sign language (Svenskt teckensprak, STS) as well as spoken Swedish, (b) 10 age-matched hearing children of deaf adults (CODA) who know STS, (c) 14 age-matched hearing peers with no STS knowledge. More specifically we investigate how text length and lexical properties relate to writing processes such as planning (measured through pauses) and revision, and how the background factors of age, gender, hearing and knowledge of STS predict the outcome in product and process. The data consists of picture-elicited narratives collected with keystroke logging. The overall results show that age is a strong predictor for writing fluency, longer texts and more sophisticated lexicon for all the children. This confirms theories on writing development which stress that when children have automatized basic low-level processes such as transcription and spelling, this will free up cognitive space for engaging in high-level processes, such as planning and revision-which in turn will result in more mature texts. What characterizes the DHH group is slower writing fluency, higher lexical density, due to omitted function words, and extensive revisions (both deletions and insertions) on word level and below. One explanation for the last finding is that limitations in the auditory input lead to more uncertainty regarding correct and appropriate lexical choices, as well as spelling. The article contributes with more specific knowledge on what is challenging during writing for DHH children with knowledge of STS and spoken Swedish in middle school, in the developmental stage when basic writing skills are established.

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  • Writing in deaf and hard-of-hearing children: A bimodal bilingual perspective on their written products and writing processes

    2023. Moa Gärdenfors.

    Avhandling (Dok)

    This thesis presents unique insights into the written products and writing processes of Swedish deaf and hard-of-hearing (DHH) children using a keystroke logging tool. Writing processes encompass the activities (such as planning or revision) that writers engage in during the production of the written text. The thesis explores how the diverse backgrounds of these children, including age, gender, age of acquisition, hearing degree, and sign language proficiency, may influence their narrative texts. The study includes 58 children and adolescents aged 8–18, with varying degrees of hearing loss and linguistic backgrounds in spoken and written Swedish and Swedish Sign Language.

    This research comprises four studies that collectively demonstrate that DHH children using hearing technology produce written products closely resembling those of children of deaf adults (CODA) and hearing children. The only notable exceptions are in terms of lexical density and text length, both of which may be associated with their reduced auditory input. The finding of few other differences is unique from an international perspective and may be attributed to the effectiveness of early interventions in the Swedish context which, for instance, include sign language courses for parents, bilingual schools, early hearing screening, and early cochlear implant operations. Regarding the writing process, DHH children exhibit a “here-and-now” planning strategy similar to same-age hearing peers. However, the DHH group shows distinctive patterns in writing fluency, with a more deliberate pace and a tendency to revise work more frequently. This writing behavior may be attributed to slower lexical retrieval and phonological challenges from their specific auditory backgrounds. Extensive local revisions and repeated spelling attempts, visible in the writing processes in the DHH group, may explain the minor differences between the DHH and the hearing groups in their written products.

    When considering background factors, age plays a crucial role. DHH children follow a developmental trajectory similar to their hearing peers, albeit with slight delays, suggesting continuous development. Gender differences are observed, with girls demonstrating higher proficiency in writing. The age of acquisition does not predict writing outcomes, likely due to early linguistic input and support. Hearing loss predicts a higher cognitive load for DHH children in writing. The connection between spoken language and writing is less direct, which may explain why they need more time, effort and strategies to write. DHH children proficient in both sign and spoken languages seem to perform as well as or even better than their non-signing peers in writing tasks, producing more clauses and adjectives. The latter can be interpreted as a transfer from sign languages’ inherently descriptive nature. This also indicates that sign language proficiency, along with spoken language, does not hinder written language development. 

    In summary, this thesis provides a comprehensive understanding of DHH children’s written products and writing processes, highlighting the multifaceted effects of age, gender, age of acquisition, hearing degree and sign language proficiency. The thesis offers insights into the writing behavior and the strategies they employ and contributes to areas such as writing and bilingualism. Finally, the results may be of interest to parents, educators, and researchers seeking a deeper understanding of the writing of the DHH group.

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  • The Writing Process and the Written Product in Bimodal Bilingual Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children

    2021. Moa Gärdenfors. Languages 6 (2)


    How does bimodal bilingualism-a signed and a spoken language-influence the writing process or the written product? The writing outcomes of twenty deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) children and hearing children of deaf adults (CODA) (mean 11.6 years) with similar bimodal bilingual backgrounds were analyzed. During the writing of a narrative text, a keylogging tool was used that generated detailed information about the participants' writing process and written product. Unlike earlier studies that have repeatedly shown that monolingual hearing children outperform their DHH peers in writing, there were few differences between the groups that likely were caused by their various hearing backgrounds, such as in their lexical density. Signing knowledge was negatively correlated with writing flow and pauses before words, and positively correlated with deleted characters, but these did not affect the written product negatively. Instead, they used different processes to reach similar texts. This study emphasizes the importance of including and comparing participants with similar language experience backgrounds. It may be deceptive to compare bilingual DHH children with hearing children with other language backgrounds, risking showing language differences. This should always be controlled for through including true control groups with similar language experience as the examined groups.

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  • Döva och hörselskadade barns tvåspråkighet: En rapport från DHT-projektet

    2021. Krister Schönström, Ingela Holmström, Moa Gärdenfors.


    Den här rapporten handlar om döva och hörselskadade skolelevers tvåspråkighet med svenskt teckenspråk och svenska. Till grund för rapporten ligger projektet Döva och hörselskadade barns tvåspråkighet (DHT) som initierades 2016 vid Institutionen för lingvistik. Inom ramen för projektet har språkliga data samlats in från 55 döva och hörselskadade elever som gick på en specialskola och tre hörselklassskolor. Dessa data består av elevernas skriftliga produktion på svenska och berättelser på svenskt teckenspråk. Dessutom fick eleverna genomföra språkliga test för båda språken. Den skriftliga produktionen analyserades kvantitativt med fokus på det lexikala innehållet. Bland annat undersöktes texternas lexikala densitet och diversitet. Analysen visade att de döva och hörselskadade elevernas resultat på ett övergripande plan motsvarar hörande svenska elevers, i samma ålder, när det gäller lexikal densitet, men inte lexikal diversitet. De språkliga testen visade också stor variation mellan eleverna i såväl svenska som i svenskt teckenspråk. I jämförelse med hörande svenska skolelever i motsvarande ålder presterade de döva och hörselskadade eleverna sämre resultat på testet i svenska, men inga skillnader återfanns mellan döva och hörselskadade elever i de olika skolformerna. Då det gäller testen i svenskt teckenspråk fann vi dock att elever inom specialskolan presenterade bättre och därmed visade större kunskaper i detta språk.

    Resultaten från projektet visar på en stor variation sett såväl till grupp som skola och individuellt. Detta visar att det är mycket svårt att få fram generaliserbara resultat som kan bidra till djupare kunskaper om döva och hörselskadade elevers språk och språkutveckling. Projektet visar hur svårt det är att få ett tillräckligt stort urval elever för att kunna hitta återkommande mönster och att det är många andra variabler som också spelar in. Rapporten ger dock en fingervisning om hur heterogen elevgruppen är, hur olika förutsättningar eleverna har och hur varierande kunskaper de uppvisar rent språkligt.

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  • Spelling in Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Hearing Children With Sign Language Knowledge

    2019. Moa Gärdenfors, Victoria Johansson, Krister Schönström. Frontiers in Psychology 10


    What do spelling errors look like in children with sign language knowledge but with variation in hearing background, and what strategies do these children rely on when they learn how to spell in written language? Earlier research suggests that the spelling of children with hearing loss is different, because of their lack of hearing, which requires them to rely on other strategies. In this study, we examine whether, and how, different variables such as hearing degree, sign language knowledge and bilingualism may affect the spelling strategies of children with Swedish sign language, Svenskt teckenspråk, (STS) knowledge, and whether these variables can be mirrored in these children’s spelling. The spelling process of nineteen children with STS knowledge (mean age: 10.9) with different hearing degrees, born into deaf families, is described and compared with a group of fourteen hearing children without STS knowledge (mean age: 10.9). Keystroke logging was used to investigate the participants’ writing process. The spelling behavior of the children was further analyzed and categorized into different spelling error categories. The results indicate that many children showed exceptionally few spelling errors compared to earlier studies, that may derive from their early exposure of STS, enabling them to use the fingerspelling strategy. All of the children also demonstrated similar typing skills. The deaf children showed a tendency to rely on a visual strategy during spelling, which may result in incorrect, but visually similar, words, i.e., a type of spelling errors not found in texts by hearing children with STS knowledge. The deaf children also showed direct transfer from STS in their spelling. It was found that hard-of-hearing children together with hearing children of deaf adults (CODAs), both with STS knowledge, used a sounding strategy, rather than a visual strategy. Overall, this study suggests that the ability to hear and to use sign language, together and respectively, play a significant role for the spelling patterns and spelling strategies used by the children with and without hearing loss.

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  • Syntaktisk struktur i svenskt teckenspråk hos hörande andraspråksinlärare

    2017. Moa Gärdenfors, Krister Schönström, Bernhard Wälchli.

    I den här studien har den syntaktiska strukturen hos två grupper L2-inlärare med olika teckenspråkskunskaper undersökts. Deras resultat har jämförts med en kontrollgrupp döva förstamålstalare. Resultatet visar att L2-grupperna i stort sett använder samma ordföljd (SVO) som kontrollgruppen vilket kan bero på facilitering (positiv transfer) från svenskan som också är ett SVO-språk. Vidare verkar L2-grupperna vilja uttrycka ett verb två gånger i en sats – en så kallad verb-sandwich. Användningen av verb-sandwich minskar med tiden, och istället ökar de seriella verben – flera semantiska verb efter varandra. Resultatet visar också att ju större teckenspråkskunskaper man har, desto fler subjektlösa satser uttrycks. Med tiden blir många av referenterna i återberättelserna implicita i takt med att L2-deltagarna lär sig behärska constructed action. Vad gäller bisatserna tycks de adverbiella bisatserna utvecklas först hos L2-inlärarna, men användningen av dem minskar efterhand. Med tiden utvecklas även objektsbisatserna. Till sist utvecklas de relativa satserna som är svåra för L2-gruppen att lära sig eftersom man måste behärska de icke-manuella signalerna. Gruppernas bisatsutveckling jämfördes slutligen med en annan undersökning som studerade L2-inlärare av talad modalitet. Även här var ordningen av bisatsutvecklingen adverbiella bisatser>objektsbisatser>relativa satser.

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  • Universal Dependencies for Swedish Sign Language

    2017. Robert Östling (et al.). Proceedings of the 21st Nordic Conference on Computational Linguistics, NoDaLiDa, 303-308


    We describe the first effort to annotate a signed language with syntactic dependency structure: the Swedish Sign Language portion of the Universal Dependencies treebanks. The visual modality presents some unique challenges in analysis and annotation, such as the possibility of both hands articulating separate signs simultaneously, which has implications for the concept of projectivity in dependency grammars. Our data is sourced from the Swedish Sign Language Corpus, and if used in conjunction these resources contain very richly annotated data: dependency structure and parts of speech, video recordings, signer metadata, and since the whole material is also translated into Swedish the corpus is also a parallel text.

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  • Towards an Annotation of Syntactic Structure in the Swedish Sign Language Corpus

    2016. Carl Börstell (et al.). Proceedings of the 7th Workshop on the Representation and Processing of Sign Languages, 19-24


    This paper describes on-going work on extending the annotation of the Swedish Sign Language Corpus (SSLC) with a level of syntactic structure. The basic annotation of SSLC in ELAN consists of six tiers: four for sign glosses (two tiers for each signer; one for each of a signer’s hands), and two for written Swedish translations (one for each signer). In an additional step by Östling et al. (2015), all ¨ glosses of the corpus have been further annotated for parts of speech. Building on the previous steps, we are now developing annotation of clause structure for the corpus, based on meaning and form. We define a clause as a unit in which a predicate asserts something about one or more elements (the arguments). The predicate can be a (possibly serial) verbal or nominal. In addition to predicates and their arguments, criteria for delineating clauses include non-manual features such as body posture, head movement and eye gaze. The goal of this work is to arrive at two additional annotation tier types in the SSLC: one in which the sign language texts are segmented into clauses, and the other in which the individual signs are annotated for their argument types.

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