In a message dated 1/16/2007 8:23:34 A.M. Pacific Standard Time,
I am a mother of two who homeschoolers. I had just recently decided to
learn ASL and teach my children due to the fact that I have
gradually been experiencing hearing loss. I have been very
frustrated because there is so much I'm not hearing and many times
misunderstanding. My question is, "What is the best way to practice
and learn properly when I don't have someone other than my children
to work with? I want to learn it properly, but live in a community
that as far as I know has no one who is Deaf or signs. I take that
back. There are many older people who wear hearing aids due to
hearing loss but no one signs. I live in a town of 1,500. I am sorry
this is so wordy. Any help you can offer would be appreciated.
In a message dated 1/27/2007 9:04:56 P.M. Pacific Standard Time,
Your email was forwarded to me by Dr. Vicars, and I'd like to
attempt to offer you some ideas for learning ASL.
The best method to acquire fluency in ASL is to associate with
members of the Deaf community. Seems you are in an area where there
is little opportunity to do so. Have you checked into community
colleges or continuing education in your area that might offer sign
classes? If that is not an option, consider computer aided programs
such as CD-ROM's and DVD's. Look up websites offering basic ASL.
Many are free. www.lifeprint.com is one such site. ASL dictionaries
can help too, just keep in mind learning ASL by book alone is (like
trying to learn a spoken foreign language by book) very challenging,
but a great tool in addition to other methods. Check to see what
your local library offers.
Will your children join you in your efforts? Depending on their
ages, they (and you too) may benefit from the many DVD's currently
popular which teach sign language to infants and children. It would
be great to include your family in your efforts, and set aside time
to practice every day. Practicing every day will help you retain the
skills learned better than doing a marathon cram session every now
and then. Label items around your home with sign pictures. There are
sign language games available too. By doing an internet search,
you'll find several companies selling products to help you learn
Do you have a web cam? Could you find an internet buddy to practice
with? Turn off the volume and have all your buddy conversations
using sign language. Maybe check into an immersion program where you
can get away for a week or so in a "no voice" atmosphere with others
also wanting to learn ASL.
An excellent educational website using ASL with text and spoken
English interpretation is www.deafplanet.com. The target audience is
Deaf children ages 8-12, but the interactive environment makes it
fun for just about everyone. This may be an excellent tool for you
to use as a homeschooling mother. Ideally you should have at least
intermediate signing skills to best understand the signing, but hey,
if you want to teach your children science and other curricula, give
it a try. The sign language would be an added dimension in addition
to the excellent learning objectives.
These are just a few of the many different ways to begin learning
ASL. Hope you can give some a try. Let me know if you have other
thoughts or ideas.
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