Sunday, September 7, 2008

ASL Week One

Our first sign language co-op will be Tuesday. I have to say, I am a little nervous. I have never taught sign language to children. I was a TA in college and tutored more adults than I can count. I also taught sign language to behavioral health workers.

I am not sure if the spatial concepts will be easier of harder for children to grasp. On one hand, children tend to mirror gestures. If you are facing a young child and tell them to do what you do, they will mirror you. So if you raise your right hand, they will raise their left. The spatial relationship is on the same side. Sign Language spatial concepts work the opposite. So this might be a challenge. On the other hand, I have worked with adults that just could not get the concept of a spatially based language. The adults tend to be too set in their ways and can only think of language in the form of words. Kids are more open to different ways of thinking.

Grammar, I think, will be easier for the kids. Kids tend to be more accepting of the grammar rules in sign language. Adults think in terms of predicates, verbs, nouns, tense, etc. Those things are just not as important in sign language, at least not in the way we typically think of them. Kids tend to think in pictures. That is a perfect way to think about sign language grammar. As an example, if you are going to say 'red car', most adults will sign RED - CAR. In actuality you would sign CAR - RED. You sign the description in the same order in which you would draw the picture. If you are drawing a picture of a red car you would draw the car first and then color it red. A spatial, visual language must be thought of in a spatial, visual way.

We will begin with the alphabet and the hundred most common words. We will do some point of reference and spatial drills after we break for lunch. The co-op is on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of each month. We will go as fast or as slow as we need to. Some units have more vocab and will likely need more time than some of the shorter units. You won't need any text book. Everything is available online. However if you are interested in a dictionary I have a really nice one that I can recommend. It is a bit pricey though!

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