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Unread 03-16-2011, 07:32 PM   #1
justinram11
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Fingerspelling Practice?

Hello! I just wanted to say I've been reading on AllDeaf for awhile now and decided to ask a question. I am taking a ASL 1 class at my high school and kind of ended up in there by accident. I LOVE the class (dare I say my favorite?) and have a fabulous teacher! I seem to pick up on signs very quick but am terrible at fingerspelling! I've gotten better at receiving using asl.ms, but my expressive is terrible!! xD

My fingers always get all bunched up and I seem to add random "i"s and "a"s into my words. If i do manage to get the word out, its very choppy, and not fluent at all. I don't have many opportunities to practice fingerspelling (or ASL at all for that matter) as I don't know that many people who also know it

Anyway, Thanks for any input anyone can give! I'm absolutely loving ASL and am finding the little I know of deaf culture very interesting!
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Unread 03-16-2011, 07:34 PM   #2
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Practice and watch yourself in a mirror .
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Unread 03-16-2011, 07:55 PM   #3
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Practice and watch yourself in a mirror .
Thank you!
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Unread 03-16-2011, 11:20 PM   #4
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For expressive practice:

Slow down. Perfect your production skills first. With practice, the speed will pick up.

Don't think or say each letter as you spell.

Practice letter combinations until they become automatic, like in keyboarding. Combinations such as th, sh, er, ei, ie, the, an, en, tion, ch, wh, bl, br, st, sl, pl, etc.

Spell everything you see--street signs, labels, menus, vocabulary lists from your other school subjects, sports teams' names and names of players, your friends names when they pop up on caller ID, song lyrics, etc.

Enjoy!
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Unread 03-16-2011, 11:21 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reba View Post
For expressive practice:

Slow down. Perfect your production skills first. With practice, the speed will pick up.

Don't think or say each letter as you spell.

Practice letter combinations until they become automatic, like in keyboarding. Combinations such as th, sh, er, ei, ie, the, an, en, tion, ch, wh, bl, br, st, sl, pl, etc.

Spell everything you see--street signs, labels, menus, vocabulary lists from your other school subjects, sports teams' names and names of players, your friends names when they pop up on caller ID, song lyrics, etc.

Enjoy!
oooo that's a good tip for me!
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Unread 03-17-2011, 05:02 PM   #6
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Quote:
For expressive practice:

Slow down. Perfect your production skills first. With practice, the speed will pick up.

Don't think or say each letter as you spell.

Practice letter combinations until they become automatic, like in keyboarding. Combinations such as th, sh, er, ei, ie, the, an, en, tion, ch, wh, bl, br, st, sl, pl, etc.

Spell everything you see--street signs, labels, menus, vocabulary lists from your other school subjects, sports teams' names and names of players, your friends names when they pop up on caller ID, song lyrics, etc.
you explain things so well, Reba :-)
too many students get stuck trying to do letter/think/letter/think/letter and lose their flow
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Unread 03-17-2011, 07:45 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reba View Post
For expressive practice:

Slow down. Perfect your production skills first. With practice, the speed will pick up.

Don't think or say each letter as you spell.

Practice letter combinations until they become automatic, like in keyboarding. Combinations such as th, sh, er, ei, ie, the, an, en, tion, ch, wh, bl, br, st, sl, pl, etc.

Spell everything you see--street signs, labels, menus, vocabulary lists from your other school subjects, sports teams' names and names of players, your friends names when they pop up on caller ID, song lyrics, etc.

Enjoy!
Agreed.. I did this in my first few yrs of learning asl.. I can say I've now got it down pretty well
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Unread 03-17-2011, 08:52 PM   #8
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One tip I learned (similar to what Reba said) was to fingerspell in syllables. For example, monkey... Mon-key. A slight pause between the two. I'm not articulating it as clearly as I should, but hopefully that makes sense.
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Unread 03-17-2011, 09:55 PM   #9
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I am new here and a new student too in ASL. Thank you all for your invaluable inputs. This will help me alot.
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Unread 03-18-2011, 12:10 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reba View Post
For expressive practice:

Slow down. Perfect your production skills first. With practice, the speed will pick up.

Don't think or say each letter as you spell.

Practice letter combinations until they become automatic, like in keyboarding. Combinations such as th, sh, er, ei, ie, the, an, en, tion, ch, wh, bl, br, st, sl, pl, etc.

Spell everything you see--street signs, labels, menus, vocabulary lists from your other school subjects, sports teams' names and names of players, your friends names when they pop up on caller ID, song lyrics, etc.

Enjoy!
Right on the money. Ditto.

Also: This link will keep your fingers busy.

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Unread 03-18-2011, 12:45 AM   #11
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Agreed.. I did this in my first few yrs of learning asl.. I can say I've now got it down pretty well
I challenge you...

can you sign ASL with face expression like him?


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Unread 03-18-2011, 11:12 PM   #12
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Thank you guys! So basically what I'm getting is that practice is key, which doesn't surprise me

I think my main problem is I'm not willing to slow down If I go at a slower speed it seems to flow MUCH more smoothly, but usually when I'm trying to sign in class the thought of going "slow" goes out the window and I just end up with my hands tied in a knot Thank you guys again! Other than fingerspelling, I'm loving the language!!!
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Unread 03-19-2011, 02:44 PM   #13
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Sorry to double post, but is there some practice for "i" other then just keep raising it and lowering it? That seems to be my hardest letter and I'm not sure if it's cause I play the violin or not. xD

My pinky just doesn't seem to want to cooperate with me, I have an insanely hard time trying to make it go up, and when I do all the muscles by my pinky feel as though they are about to snap xD (a little exaggerated of course ).

Thanks guys!

Also, how long should I expect before becoming fluent w/ fingerspelling? I don't expect a week turnaround, but also hope it doesn't take like 10 years
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Unread 03-19-2011, 02:50 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by justinram11 View Post
Sorry to double post, but is there some practice for "i" other then just keep raising it and lowering it? That seems to be my hardest letter and I'm not sure if it's cause I play the violin or not. xD

My pinky just doesn't seem to want to cooperate with me, I have an insanely hard time trying to make it go up, and when I do all the muscles by my pinky feel as though they are about to snap xD (a little exaggerated of course ).

Thanks guys!

Also, how long should I expect before becoming fluent w/ fingerspelling? I don't expect a week turnaround, but also hope it doesn't take like 10 years
Do have an actual physical problem with your pinky finger? Does it cramp? Is it same for both left and right hands? What about when you form "j" and "y"? Is it just when you spell, or when you form signs that also use the "i" shape?
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Unread 03-19-2011, 02:57 PM   #15
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I guess you could describe it as a cramping sensation xD and no, I don't have any physical problems that I'm aware of, and my Y and J seem normal. My "w" also seems to put some strain on it too.

It does only seem to occur when fingerspelling too, like at the moment I can life up my pinky finger no problem, but if I try to incorporate it into a word, it just seems to cramp up xD
If I do a sign that uses the I shape I also do not have a problem, only when spelling. Like I think "alcohol" uses pointer and pinky finger out on both hands on top of each other (not sure if thats right not not, our tearcher wouldn't teach us the sign and I oversaw someone in ASL 2 using it).

It also seems that if I can "zone out" my fingerspelling gets much better, but anytime I try to actually think of the word that I'm trying to spell, it turns into a mess. I guess its just something I will have to practice at.

Thanks for the reply!!
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Unread 03-19-2011, 03:09 PM   #16
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I guess you could describe it as a cramping sensation xD and no, I don't have any physical problems that I'm aware of, and my Y and J seem normal. My "w" also seems to put some strain on it too.
Interesting. Do you have any carpal tunnel or repetitive motion injuries?

Quote:
... I think "alcohol" uses pointer and pinky finger out on both hands on top of each other (not sure if thats right not not, our tearcher wouldn't teach us the sign and I oversaw someone in ASL 2 using it).
Yes, that's the sign. You can see the sign at
Sign for ALCOHOL | ASL Sign Language Video Dictionary

Click on the third choice for that sign.
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Unread 03-19-2011, 03:30 PM   #17
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Lol, not that I'm aware of, but now I'm beginning to think that I just need to stretch my hand muscles a little bit xD After about a half hour of practicing, my fingers have loosened up and seem to be fingerspelling now without the cramping. Thanks for all the help! It's very much appreciated! I think I'm just going to have to get over the fact that it takes time, and I'm not going to immediately become good at it!

Thanks again!
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Unread 03-19-2011, 03:59 PM   #18
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Lol, not that I'm aware of, but now I'm beginning to think that I just need to stretch my hand muscles a little bit xD After about a half hour of practicing, my fingers have loosened up and seem to be fingerspelling now without the cramping. Thanks for all the help! It's very much appreciated! I think I'm just going to have to get over the fact that it takes time, and I'm not going to immediately become good at it!

Thanks again!
One tip is, make sure your hands are warmed up before starting. Run warm water over them if they're cold, and/or flex them and shake them out a bit before starting.

Lots of practice is good, yes, but not all at one time. Take breaks.
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Unread 03-19-2011, 05:35 PM   #19
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One more question if I could. I understand in ASL that you always put the "wh" word at the end, so like "Where are you going?" would be "You going where?". My question is, can you do this with non-question sentences?

Such as:
"I know very little sign language"
"Sign language I know very little"

Would the second be more correct than the first? or would they both be acceptable?

!!!!!
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Unread 03-19-2011, 08:13 PM   #20
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I challenge you...

can you sign ASL with face expression like him?


okay..this was about fingerspelling not signs and facial expressions
i can try will i be as amazing as him..probably not
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Unread 03-20-2011, 12:27 AM   #21
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One more question if I could. I understand in ASL that you always put the "wh" word at the end, so like "Where are you going?" would be "You going where?". My question is, can you do this with non-question sentences?

Such as:
"I know very little sign language"
"Sign language I know very little"

Would the second be more correct than the first? or would they both be acceptable?

!!!!!
"Sign language, me?" (Rhetorical yes-no eyebrows) "Little." (On your face you would emphasize that it is very little.)
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Unread 03-20-2011, 01:30 AM   #22
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Ive been signing for a couple years now and I fingerspell a lot when I sign. I still get confused. My friends get what im saying but if im talking to someone who isnt used to my signing I have to slow it down. I practice all the time still. In the shower I will fingerspell all the words on the back of the shampoo bottle, things like that. And paying attention to what letter combinations give me a hard time. For some reason M-I-L-K is way hard for me! I also throw in the letter Y in all sorts of places it doesnt belong!

If you need help learningt o read fingerspelling, ive spent a lot of time here: http://www.aslpro.com/cgi-bin/aslpro/fingerspell.cgi
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Unread 03-20-2011, 09:25 AM   #23
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The best tip for practicing fingerspelling is what Reba gave. Practice letter combinations. But let me expand on this a bit. Try a letter combination of one word. Just keep practicing this combination until it feels comfortable, smooth, and most importantly - easy for you to recognize. After you have reached this point, add another letter to your combination until you are once again smooth, comfortable, and easy for you to recognize. Keep adding letters until you have completed a word. One example of this is the word "state". All these letters are easy to mess up when learning to fingerspell, so this word could help you with your fingerspelling.

Here's a tip on reading fingerspelling. Don't sweat not seeing all the letters of the word. Try and read the word and determine what the word could be from the letters you see. Let me give an example. If you see someone sign the following. "work...work....work. i hate j-b." You could pretty much guess that the word being spelled at the end would be "job". So the morale of the story here, don't tense up. Try to relax and go with the flow.

Just another thought. Find a fellow student to help practice spelling and reading. This way, both of you can practice spelling and reading. Let's face it, being able to read fingerspelling is probably a bit more important than being able to fingerspelling quickly.

On a side note, something which I always find cute with fingerspelling. Often when one sees someone rapidly fingerspelling the word "chili" - it will sometimes look like "CH <I love you>"
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Unread 03-22-2011, 07:00 PM   #24
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One thing I do a lot is practice fingerspelling while driving. (Yikes! lol) As mentioned before, practice fingerspelling street signs, billboards, everything you see, or just even a word or two from the signs.

Say the WORD as you fingerspell it (even if it's slowly), but DON'T say/think the individual letters. (I'm still working on THAT one. lol)

Also, don't bounce your hand when fingerspelling. Try to keep your hand relatively still so the spelling looks smoother. Also you don't need to overdo each letter. By that I mean that letters can blend just a bit from one to the other. But I guess that will come with practice too. : )

And as said before... go slow! Get the production of the letters down first, THEN slowly work on getting faster at it. Remember, no matter how fast or slow you fingerspell, if it's not clear, no one will understand what your trying to say!

Good Luck! : )
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Unread 03-22-2011, 07:07 PM   #25
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"Sign language, me?" (Rhetorical yes-no eyebrows) "Little." (On your face you would emphasize that it is very little.)
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Unread 03-22-2011, 07:22 PM   #26
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Pat you on the head. Better now?
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Unread 03-24-2011, 05:31 PM   #27
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Just wanted to update that your suggestions are awesome!

What I did is, I read alot, and so about every ten minutes I would fingerspell a paragraph. It was slow going at first (I made myself take it slow), but now after just 5 days of practicing, I'm tons better!! Quick question if I may, we were trying to sign unicorn (don't ask why xD) and so I stuck my pointer finger out and made a sort of "closed D" shape on the top middle of your forehead. She said never to sign it again!! Lol, what does it mean?? She wouldn't tell us

Last edited by justinram11; 03-24-2011 at 06:23 PM.
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Unread 03-25-2011, 12:09 AM   #28
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Ohh, I remember learning fingerspelling.

The suggestion given about fingerspelling is great! One thing about your pinky cramping is just to try not to do overkill when you're practicing. If you fingerspell continuously for a while, your whole hand will cramp up.

Once I was more comfortable with the spelling, I'd play a game at the stoplights with myself. I probably looked crazy to other drivers, but whatever. When you stop at a red light, try to fingerspell the names of the street you're at, any signs you see, car brand names, etc. before the light turns green. If I mispelled something, I'd try to beat the light and spell it again correctly. Obviously don't do this when you're actually driving, just do it at a stop light or when you're parked somewhere waiting.

Anytime I was just standing around waiting to order my food at restaurant or whatever, I'd try to spell the name of the restaurant, menu items, whatever you can.

After a while, you'll get the hang of it. To improve your receptive skills, just watch deaf people fingerspell. That's really the only way to get better.
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Unread 03-28-2011, 11:41 AM   #29
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Also an ASL student here. I'm constantly getting better at fingerspelling, but still have a lot of trouble keeping up with other people when they're fingerspelling to me and always have to ask them to slow down. And introductory sign language videos aren't much help since they sign painfully slow.
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Unread 05-05-2011, 10:16 AM   #30
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I will start ASL in the Fall, but I have gotten into the habbit of fingerspelling words I hear on TV... just anything that you feel like spelling will work.. doing that enough will help you tremendously! Good Luck!! :-D
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