Saturday, March 21, 2009

ASL Parameters

Today I taught the penultimate class in American Sign Language (ASL) to fulfill my obligation to the church auction that took place last November.  I had auctioned off four, one hour classes in ASL to a group of six students.

It has been interesting to try to compress the myriad components of ASL into just four hours worth of lessons. Where to begin?

I decided to forgo the usual opening dialogue of "Hi, my name is" and hit 'em with my overarching beliefs and views on ASL as an integral part of Deaf culture.  This included a brief (yet passionate) diatribe on the history of deaf education in America and a lesson on the linguistic structure of this manual language.  My thought was to start large with the big themes and hone our understanding from there.

To their credit my little group met the challenge by not only learning vocabulary but also understanding the issues and finer points of Deaf culture, structure and grammar of ASL and posing brilliant questions.  


Inspired by the lessons I asked Lauren if we could make another short ASL video.  This one focuses on the 4 parameters of ASL. They are handshape, location, orientation and movement (some linguists argue for facial expression as well). These are the building blocks or phonology of ASL. The all important things you do when you are signing that native users may not have ever analyzed (think native English speakers diagramming sentences - how often do you do that?).  

The video was made at the end of an exhausting week.  Be kind!


LadrĂ³n de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

I couldn't focus on the signing, I was too busy checking out that tie. Something tells me you didn't get it at Barney's. Or maybe you did.

Gary said...

Gregg - LOL. That is my Moulin Rouge tie given to me by my very beautiful co-teacher from day gone by, Maggie. I have no idea where she got it but it is a fabu accessory when wearing yellow. :) I was not even going to post this vid because I was so exhausted and lifeless but that is the reality...sometimes teaching can wear a boy down.

Barbara said...

I always learn so much from you. I would dearly love to spend 4 hours learning about ASL!

Kellyann Brown said...

Wow! Great video!! It's so hard to be natural when you are being video-taped. I loved the examples!

Gary said...

Barbara - what a great time that would be, especially over a glass of wine and an occasional piano break.

Kellyann - Thanks. My friend Cayne texted me today and asked why I wasn't looking at the camera. I am not looking at the camera directly because I was looking at Lauren on the computer screen so I could interpret what she was signing. So, I am hoping you thought we were natural instead of UNnatural. :) It is a tricky task sometimes.

Steve said...

That was really interesting -- the way mother becomes grandmother, for example.

I like the way you say "parameterrrrrs." LOL!

(I noticed the tie, too!)

Joy Keaton said...

I think starting your mini-course in ASL with background instead of the "Hi my name is.." was a very good way to go. In my classes at LaGuardia they started with the Intro to Deaf Culture with a little basic vocab thrown in and I felt learning the background was a real help towards learning. When you know where something came from it's a little easier to make the connections, so there you go proving that you are a natural teacher regardless of what you're teaching. Except perhaps... geography. ;)

WAT said...

Okay. My little Gary was looking a bit run down there. Hope u are catching up on your sleep.

We so need tans, you and I.


lettuce said...

its so interesting seeing the patterns in signing

hope you are going to get some rest - spring break soon?

Gary said...

Steve - I didn't realize that I was channeling Miss Eartha Kitt there until you pointed it out. And I do it more than once. Purrrrr....

Joy - Thank you dear. In a world full of heartache and pain it's nice to know I can always depend on your insight and wisdom to set all things right again.

Oh, make that geography, math and... what is the other one? Lordy, I can't even remember it.

Wat and Letty - I think it is going to take more than a spring break to bring me back to a truly restful place but my problem has always been the same. I have SO many things I want to accomplish and there is never enough time to do it all. A curse or a blessing?

I was debating if Lauren and I should even make the video when we did because I was very, very exhausted but then figured it was best to strike while the iron was hot. Vanity be damned.

I'll 'freshen' up this summer (and get a tan too perhaps).

pat1776 said...

I really enjoy the videos the two of you do together - so clear and demonstrative. And very well done!


Arielle Lee Bair said...

First off, I love Moulin Rouge. Love the tie. Seriously.

And you rock, Gary! As always!

Gary said...

Right back at ya Arielle!


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