In a message dated 9/2/2010 8:06:28 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time, firstname.lastname@example.org
Hey, Bill Vicars. It's been a while since I emailed you and I changed emails
since then, so you probably don't remember me. Quick re-introduction, I'm
Amanda (also known as Dess), and I am now taking my first actual ASL class!
And I've come across some difficulties.
In my class, there's a strict no-talking policy because the teacher wants to
immerse us all in the language. That's all well and good, but I've run into
some difficulties explaining things during class. My teacher, Mr. Buckey,
thinks I'm left-handed. That's great! Except I don't just use my left hand
as my dominant hand! I tend to use both. It only registers in his head which
hand I'm using when I use my left hand as the dominant, because it throws
him off while he's actually teaching all the right-handed students. When I
use my right hand, I'm just like everyone else and he doesn't notice.
It isn't that which hand to use and what-not is difficult for me. (Although
I do switch hands subconsciously based on which side of my brain I'm using
to analyze what I'm talking about and convenience. An example of convenience
is which side of me the person I'm talking to is on, and which side of the
previous sign the next sign is on. Like when I sign "AGAIN SLOWLY" I usually
use my right hand as dominant in "AGAIN," but since my left hand is already
there, I'll use that one as dominant in "SLOWLY" before I even realize that
I did it.) The problem is I know this will come up in conversation sometime
during class, or sometime during my community hours, and I have no clue how
to explain in sign language that I'm ambidextrous! D:
Can you help me, somehow, via email? Or at least give me advice on where to
find the answer to my problem?
It is not good to be ambidextrous in an ASL class.
Being ambidextrous in ASL is the equivalent in spoken English of speaking in
a high tone and then switching to speaking in a low tone every few words. It
would drive the people listening to you nuts. They could still understand
you of course, but the constant changing back and forth would be annoying.
You need to pick one dominant hand and stick with it (at least during
signing). To break the habit you've got to practice the signs the right way
consistently until you've got them "memorized."
One way to break this habit is to spend some time practicing each sign while
sitting on your non-dominant hand. Just go ahead and do the sign with your
dominant hand as if you were doing it normally.
For example, if you are practicing the sign "SLOW" you would slide
your dominant hand along the "imaginary" non-dominant hand/wrist (which you
are sitting on for the purpose of practicing that sign). I'm sure that
feels weird a bit at first, but it will train you and get you in the habit
of using your dominant hand to do the main motions of signs. Then go back
later and practice the signs with both hands.
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