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Indigenous Signs for Countries:

Lesson: "Indigenous Signs for Countries"

Preparation: Explain (and clarify with written English on the overhead as needed) that there are two sets of signs:
1. Legacy signs for countries: Older, "traditional" American Sign Language signs for countries.
2. Indigenous signs: Signs adopted or "borrowed" from the other country's own signed language.
Examples of borrowed signs: ITALY, MEXICO, CHINA, JAPAN

ASL has not adopted new signs for every country. Traditional ASL signs are still used for quite a few countries and places. Examples: ENGLAND,  IRELAND

Users of "International Sign Language" have a sign for ENGLAND based on the chin strap of the head gear worn by the royal castle guards but this sign isn't the indigenous sign for ENGLAND.

Note: Early vs Late Adopters
As with new technology, new signs have both early adopters and late adopters. Some ASL signers are quick to begin using a new sign. Other signers prefer to stick with the older versions of signs. Which version is right? Which version should you learn? There are two answers to that question:
1. If you want a good grade, learn the version your current teacher uses.
2. If you want to understand the signing of a wide range of Deaf people then learn all of the versions of a sign.

Activity: Students work in groups of four.
Vocabulary: FINISH-TOUCH? = "Have you been there?"
Vocabulary: (Demonstrate signs for various countries).

Indigenous: Having originated in and being produced, growing, living, or occurring naturally in a particular region or environment. (Source:


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