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Teaching ASL: "Curriculum Choices"

In a message dated 3/17/2013 12:46:49 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time, John writes:


Dr. Bill,

I am an old hearing signer who has not signed since 1983-84. At that time I was not even fairly proficient (more like deficit learning enabled). However, I have decided to get back into ASL and am wanting to [promote] it in my church to any and all willing to spend the time to learn a beautiful new language along with me.

To this end, I plan on using the ________ DVD set as part of the class, but am also interested in using your material as the preeminent source as it is so wonderfully formatted. 

It is unfortunate that we do not currently have a Deaf person that can assist me, but I am going to seek help from the local deaf club here in Louisville to see if there are any persons willing to spend some time in making sure I do justice to the language.  This is a voluntary program and something that I have been wanting to do for a long time.  The Elders of the church have given their blessing on this endeavor. They have purchased the ________ DVD set.

Two questions:
First, have you seen this DVD set before? (I found it on ebay.)
Second, are you aware of the instructors?

Thanks for your great work, sincerely;
John  _______


John,
Hello :)
The threshold to publishing has gotten so low these days that anyone with a video camera (or a mobile phone) can create a "curriculum." I have not personally viewed the $100 DVD set to which you are referring.

I wonder if perhaps it is also advertised via Amazon.com? 

Hmmm, I just went to Amazon and only found only one "rating / comment." It was fairly positive (but likely to be one of the authors or employees of the producers of the product).

I reckon it would be fine to have that product in your "toolkit" of teaching materials.  I'd also recommend you visit your local library and see what other materials might be there for free checkout.

Your idea of enlisting a local Deaf person as an instructor is certainly the way to go if you can locate someone willing (and qualified) to help out.  Perhaps you'd be better off using "free" materials and spending the $100 on hiring a local Deaf person to come tutor at $10 an hour for 10 hours or $20 an hour for five hours. You might not want to even call it "hiring" nor "employment" but rather call it "gas money" or a "travel stipend." (That way the person gets to feel good about volunteering plus they get a bit of cash in their pocket to reimburse their travel expenses.)

One small bit of caution here is to remember there is a difference between "teaching" and "language modeling."  It is good to keep in mind that the average Deaf person is no more qualified to teach ASL than the average Hearing person is to teach English.  It is sort of analogous to showing up at "poker night" at some Hearing club and asking for a volunteer to be an English teacher.  You might get a volunteer but he (or she) would not necessarily be qualified to teach you English.  Still, having a "real live" Deaf person involved provides a huge improvement over simply learning from a book or electronic materials.

Best wishes,
- Dr. Bill


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