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!