Jump to content

Menu

American Sign Language (ASL)


Recommended Posts

I’m curious if anyone has any experience or opinions regarding teaching an elementary school age (hearing) child ASL as an additional language, particularly where the parent doesn’t know ASL and has no prior connection to the Deaf community. Among other questions I have, I’d appreciate any input on curriculum, resources, how far along (if anywhere) I might realistically be able to get learning alongside my child to teach him (I’m willing to put in the time), and any thoughts on the cultural sensitivity aspects to taking this on as a hearing family with no natural connection to the Deaf community. I’m aware of some of the cultural issues and would want to approach the entire endeavor with as much humility and sincerity as possible, but I’m not sure how it would nonetheless come across to native speakers. I would hate to do anything insolent or offensive and worry that the whole effort perhaps could be. I’d also hate to encourage my child to learn ASL if he’s destined to be in a hopelessly awkward spot in connecting with other speakers. 
 

thank you so much in advance for any input! 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

*Never* offer to teach it anywhere a Deaf person will notice! But you can start teaching your child as soon as you know anything to teach. Start with mime. Language study should include cultural knowledge, but one doesn't have to have a personal connection to be allowed to study ASL any more than if you decided to study French.

You'd be able to get to a functional level, but not fluency, and one is hampered somewhat if one is an introvert, lol. I can't recommend resources because my rusty skills are in Auslan, not ASL, but I would expect you'd need a teacher for more than basic grammar. There are some ASL users on here, I think, so they may know better.

Also "Deaf" community should have a capital letter. While all American Deaf people own ASL, it doesn't mean they are native speakers either. You and your child will have a Hearing accent, but that's hardly shameful. You *are* Hearing. I can't see much reason for hopeless awkwardness. It's not like you're going to go around rudely interrupting other people's conversations and demanding they provide you with an opportunity to practice, are you?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There are several good resources.  SignIt! is meant for elementary age who want something quicker than Signing Time.  The creators put it together along with deaf and HoH actors/figures and CODAs. It's funny and well done.  Lifeprint is free online and meant for older students.  DS12 began learning ASL from a deaf instructor many years ago.  We supplemented with both of those (I would break LifePrint down to teach him the words individually, then we'd go through the lesson slowly together)

It is not a language he has found much use for yet outside of long distance communication.  When he is in a practice he will use a modified ASL to express his needs or interpret conversation since I can't hear him.  I am hoping he keeps up a basic knowledge and decides to learn more as an adult, but we have found uses for it anyway. And he enjoys ASL movies when we can find them.  We watched a great one about a family on a mountain a while back, with the kid from Switched at Birth and his real family in it.  D-PAN (Deaf Performance Artists Network) offers news and music videos on youtube in bite sized segments and those are great to expand vocab, too, when you get to a point of feeling comfortable.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 10/17/2022 at 12:28 AM, Rosie_0801 said:

*Never* offer to teach it anywhere a Deaf person will notice! But you can start teaching your child as soon as you know anything to teach. Start with mime. Language study should include cultural knowledge, but one doesn't have to have a personal connection to be allowed to study ASL any more than if you decided to study French.

You'd be able to get to a functional level, but not fluency, and one is hampered somewhat if one is an introvert, lol. I can't recommend resources because my rusty skills are in Auslan, not ASL, but I would expect you'd need a teacher for more than basic grammar. There are some ASL users on here, I think, so they may know better.

Also "Deaf" community should have a capital letter. While all American Deaf people own ASL, it doesn't mean they are native speakers either. You and your child will have a Hearing accent, but that's hardly shameful. You *are* Hearing. I can't see much reason for hopeless awkwardness. It's not like you're going to go around rudely interrupting other people's conversations and demanding they provide you with an opportunity to practice, are you?

This input is extremely helpful—thank you! I appreciate the encouragement and pointers. Funny point on introversion!  I can’t imagine breaking into someone’s conversation, makes me ill just thinking about it. Don’t think Ive ever approached someone even with the languages I myself learned!  
 

Do you have any thoughts on how and when to engage the Deaf community, if, really, at all?  On one hand, I’m sure it would be motivating and enriching for my son/me to engage as soon as possible, but on the other, I’d hate for it to be a one way street where that motivation and enrichment came with no ostensible benefit for any Deaf persons we interacted with, who would be saddled to with the presence of two novice signers and the gaze of two hearing persons who had little reason to be around. It’s occurred to me there might be volunteer opportunities or something where we might be able to give something back in exchange for the privilege of being around, I just wonder if our engagement would nonetheless come off as weird or creepy. Im probably overthinking this; I just have a hard time imagining what the dynamic would be like and I’d like to get a better sense before starting the journey.  
 

Also, duly noted about capitalizing Deaf for the meaning I was reaching for here. I went back and edited my post accordingly—thank you.  I’ll definitely be incorporating cultural learning alongside any language learning. 

On 10/17/2022 at 3:19 AM, HomeAgain said:

There are several good resources.  SignIt! is meant for elementary age who want something quicker than Signing Time.  The creators put it together along with deaf and HoH actors/figures and CODAs. It's funny and well done.  Lifeprint is free online and meant for older students.  DS12 began learning ASL from a deaf instructor many years ago.  We supplemented with both of those (I would break LifePrint down to teach him the words individually, then we'd go through the lesson slowly together)

 

Thanks a ton for this excellent input. I will check out signit for sure, and it’s good to have lifeprint put in context since it comes up a lot. Out of curiosity, how did you find the teacher for your child? I can obviously imagine the value of having a fluent speaker to help teach, but I imagine most tutoring/direct interaction resources out there are for people who have a compelling reason to learn, and I’m not sure how appropriate it would be for us to sign up without one.  I can imagine there are people out there more than happy to work with interested hearing persons like us, but I guess what I’m asking is how you find them/if there are specific resources for this. 
 

Also, in line with my remarks above, did your child ever interact with the local Deaf community? Just curious what engagement might have looked like under your circumstances and how it went for everyone involved. 

Edited by Sapa
Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 minutes ago, Sapa said:

Thanks a ton for this excellent input. I will check out signit for sure, and it’s good to have lifeprint put in context since it comes up a lot. Out of curiosity, how did you find the teacher for your child? I can obviously imagine the value of having a fluent speaker to help teach, but I imagine most tutoring/direct interaction resources out there are for people who have a compelling reason to learn, and I’m not sure how appropriate it would be for us to sign up without one.  I can imagine there are people out there more than happy to work with interested hearing persons like us, but I guess what I’m asking is how you find them/if there are specific resources for this. 
 

Also, in line with my remarks above, did your child ever interact with the local Deaf community? Just curious what engagement might have looked like under your circumstances and how it went for everyone involved. 

My kid actually got lucky, and I mean that.  He had a vocabulary of basic signs, but no ASL, from the time he was a baby.  Around age 4 we found a bilingual storytime at the library, where an interpreter worked with a verbal staff member to read the book together.  He was so engaged and interested that when a class opened at the university with a deaf instructor, we were invited to join in. 
Currently we have no engagement with the deaf community.  I'm not sure how fluent we would be if that changed.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Sapa said:

This input is extremely helpful—thank you! I appreciate the encouragement and pointers. Funny point on introversion!  I can’t imagine breaking into someone’s conversation, makes me ill just thinking about it. Don’t think Ive ever approached someone even with the languages I myself learned!  
 

When I spoke of introversion hampering one's signed language learning ability, I wasn't talking about one's comfort in socialising. I meant that extroverts have an advantage in signed language production. I was always the best in my class with receptive skills, but the two who were second best were top of the class with productive skills because they were extroverts and had that innate gregariousness/flamboyance I can't learn. 

Do you have any thoughts on how and when to engage the Deaf community, if, really, at all?  On one hand, I’m sure it would be motivating and enriching for my son/me to engage as soon as possible, but on the other, I’d hate for it to be a one way street where that motivation and enrichment came with no ostensible benefit for any Deaf persons we interacted with, who would be saddled to with the presence of two novice signers and the gaze of two hearing persons who had little reason to be around. It’s occurred to me there might be volunteer opportunities or something where we might be able to give something back in exchange for the privilege of being around, I just wonder if our engagement would nonetheless come off as weird or creepy. Im probably overthinking this; I just have a hard time imagining what the dynamic would be like and I’d like to get a better sense before starting the journey.  

You can't really be useful until you're able to communicate. Once you get that far, the local Deaf association might have camps or family fun days that need staff. Is there a reason you don't just enrol in a class? That's one place to network. Really, though. Strangers don't want to teach you for free. Why would they?
 

Also, in line with my remarks above, did your child ever interact with the local Deaf community? Just curious what engagement might have looked like under your circumstances and how it went for everyone involved. 

My daughter hasn't had reason to. She tried joining the "Auslan" club at school, but the twit running it knew less than she did. Her father and I met in Auslan class, back in the day. He's Hard of Hearing and a qualified Auslan teacher, but while he has taught her bits and pieces over the years, he prefers to use English. I've taught her bits and pieces as she's asked and she learns a bit from videos online.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...