Throughout the past few weeks I have continued to make small improvements in my ability to communicate via American Sign Language. I realized this past week that I took four years of Spanish in high school and I was still nowhere near fluent when I graduated. So, I’m not sure why I thought I would be communicating with ease by this point. This new learning process has made me remember the challenge that some of my former high school students experienced trying to read course materials that were far and beyond their ability level. They spoke English fluently, but reading it was like reading a completely different language. That’s how I have felt learning ASL. To combat this challenge, I decided to set realistic goals for myself. For example, I wanted to be able to practice and learn 2 new words or phrases every day. I also wanted to build my repertoire with practical words that I could use in normal daily conversation.
In order to work towards this goal, I kept sifting through a plethora of YouTube videos to find practical resources. In the beginning, I found it most helpful to start with videos that covered the alphabet, phonics, and basic greetings like ASL Alphabet & ABC Phonics, Basic ASL Words, and Sign Language for Beginners. These were helpful because I was able to learn some of the basics and also go back through them to refresh my memory as I worked to build other knowledge. After working with these resources, I needed to begin pulling all of the letters, words and phrases I was learning into conversation. I liked this Basic Conversation video to start and then began looking at others (like this one) to compare and learn more from. I also enjoyed watching this video created by the cast of the show Switched at Birth as they talk about and use their favorite signs
Like I mentioned in my first post, I have watched countless YouTube videos to learn sets of common words/phrases and I’ve also searched for videos to learn a single word or specific phrase in order to put a cohesive sentence together. This has been my greatest challenge; making sense of all of everything I’ve learned in isolation. Stringing words and phrases together in a way that makes sense is really hard and I am practicing with myself with no idea of whether or not what I’m putting together actually makes sense grammatically. The best solution to this problem would be to find someone who is fluent in ASL to communicate and practice with.
With only YouTube as a viable source (haven’t found any useful help forums), it has been difficult to find what I need when trying to build sentences for conversations. I have spent A LOT of time re-watching entire videos, watching videos that don’t even have the information I’m looking for, and doing searches that don’t produce any related results. I haven’t figured out a way to tackle this challenge yet, but although it’s time consuming, I have still been able to find most the information I need eventually! In my searching, I came across this comical brother duo who post videos of themselves conversing using ASL and talk about funny experiences they have had as hearing children of deaf parents – one of their videos here. It would be awesome to communicate this quickly and seamlessly using sign language!
This photo represents where I began – I had to start by learning the letters of my name.
It’s really hard to take pictures of signs because they involve multiple hand movements. So instead, I included two videos via Vimeo to show my learning.