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American Sign Language:  A few hints

1. Occasionally practice your signing in front of a mirror.

2. Use a video recorder to videotape yourself signing a bunch of ASL phrases. Have someone voice the phrases as you sign them. Don't voice the phrases yourself because, in general, it is impossible to sign ASL and speak English at the same time. It is possible to use Contact Signing and voice English at the same time--but that isn't your goal is it?

[Note: Some linguists feel that a more accurate term for Pidgin Signed English or PSE is "Contact Signing." This is because contact signing doesn't seem to fit many of the characteristics commonly associated with pidgins.]

Wait several days then watch the video. Turn the sound off. See if you can interpret your own signing. See if your friend can. Write down what you "think" you are signing. Play the video again with the sound on and compare your interpretations with the voicing on the videotape.

3. Go on "Deaf Dates." Even if you and your partner are hearing...turn off your voices for the afternoon or evening and communicate everything in ASL or fingerspelling.

4.  An organization hired me to train their interpreters. At the completion of the training they asked me for any additional advice. Here is a copy of my response:

If you all really want to become skilled interpreters and learn this language, I suggest promoting the concept of "using the language at every available opportunity."
It has been my observation over the past few months that many of the workshop participants would immediately shift to voicing as soon as the breaks started. Additionally, when I would first arrive to set up, if there were participants already in the classroom, they invariably would be sitting around voicing, not signing.
Then, afterward, as I'd drive away, they'd be standing together out near their cars voicing.
Your organization could develop its own culture of preferring to sign whenever two or more signers get together.
-- Dr. Bill


More advice...


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