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By: Alyson Rafferty
When you begin studying ASL, it may seem overwhelming.
"How can I remember all these signs?"
"How can I differentiate this sign from that sign?"
"How am I supposed to learn online without practice partners?"
My suggestion is to start with figuring out which study technique works for you.
As a college graduate myself, figuring out a study method that worked for me took some time. It was not an instantaneous process.
First, figure out what kind of learner you are.
Myself, I am a visual and hands-on learner. This means that I learn best from being able to do the task myself and also from visual information such as videos, aides, pictures etc.
Second, test out which methods for studying help you retain information efficiently.
When I was first learning ASL, I would watch all the videos I could find regarding what I was learning. I would watch the one-on-one videos Dr. Vicars has with each lesson. Those videos showed another student (like myself) learning as I was. I felt more comfortable making mistakes and then figuring out why it was wrong.
As you progress through the lessons make sure you are paying attention to the parameters of each sign. By parameters I mean, handshape, location, palm orientation, movement and facial expression. When you can distinguish one set of parameters for one sign and the different parameters for another sign, you are well on your way to retaining more and more vocabulary. Actually practice signing it yourself, become comfortable moving your hands and using different handshapes to figure out how the sign should be produced.
After you have a beginning foundation of concepts, practice them in your everyday conversations (or to yourself). For example, if you are discussing how you need to go home to watch a movie, practice signing the concepts you know. Making connections with what you are learning to your everyday life can help you retain new information as well.
To sum it up, figuring out what kind of learner you are and what study technique works for you will help set you up for success in your ASL studies and future endeavors.
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