How did you learn, or how are you learning, ASL?

Grayma

New Member
30 years ago I took sign language classes at college. I took three or four altogether, in two states. I thought before it was two classes, but I just remembered I took a couple others offered at the library:

a beginning course at the library in Arizona when I was a teen. I think it was ASL, but it's been so long and the course was so basic that I can't be sure anymore.

SEE in California because that is all that was offered, at least all I knew about, taught by a hearing instructor.

ASL in Oregon, taught by a CODA who also sometimes interpreted for some metal bands that came through- Guns n Roses, maybe?

Now:

I use Lifeprint, thanks to Kristina and this sticky thread she created:
http://www.alldeaf.com/sign-language-oralism/75825-links-websites-learning-asl.html

I use it with my kids so I get some practice at home, but not as much receptive practice as I would like.

On Sundays I 'interpret' at church for my deaf friend. I am no interpreter, but she sees this, I think, as a hands on training class for me. She sets up our seating the way she likes, and then I interpret. She stops me when I make a sign she doesn't know, and whenever I fingerspell a word she stops me and signs the word, and then I have to keep signing it back until she approves, and then we go on- I don't bother trying to catch up what we missed during my impromptu sign lesson, and I don't think she expects me to.

On Sunday afternoons a handful of people from church, including my deaf friend, meet in the afternoon for about an hour of what I would call ASL club. We practice the Lifeprint lessons, she watches us, corrects or signs, and sometimes tells us that she would not use that sign, she'd use another one.

Sunday nights I get another working class on ASL during the sermon for about half the evening service, then she leaves to go somewhere where there is a real interpreter who knows what she is doing.

During the week, I watch one of the Bravo family videos. Once a week I go back into town and meet one or two of the guys from our ASL club and we practice some more- more vocabulary than syntax or grammar. Interesting, both of them speak Russian and English.

Twice a week two Mormon missionaries come to the house for sign language tutoriing.

During the week I also usually will watch one or more videos in ASL on youtube or vimeo, although vimeo often refuses to load for me.

Also I write down a list all week long of words I've heard that I do not know the sign for, and ask either my deaf friend or the Mormon girl when I see them next.

With all that, I feel like I ought to be making more progress than I am. Sundays are particularly beneficial, I think, but also intense, and by the end of the day I am exhausted, my shoulders ache, and my brain feels like it's been wrapped tightly in a spider web and sucked empty.

I'm curious how others learned, and if you have any suggestions to me for what I could do better. I would love to meet more deaf people, but I don't know how. I don't know of any signers in my town.
 

LoveBlue

Well-Known Member
I just finished Step 3 at our state school for the deaf (evening classes once a week for 10 weeks). I don't practice as much as I should. Lately, while taking my evening walk, I will fingerspell two prayers (Hail Mary & The Lord's Prayer) to give me practice fingerspelling. I will also visualize some of the signs I've learned in class. I just feel a little weird "talking to myself" while walking out in public. :giggle:

My daughter, who is also taking the classes with me...and picking up on it a lot faster than my "old" brain, and I will sometimes sign with each other, especially when I don't have my HAs in.
 

Reba

Retired Terp
Premium Member
Grayma, what is your ASL goal? Do you want to interpret or do you want to be a fluent signer? That will make a difference as to how best to approach learning.

(Please forgive me if you answered this question in another thread that I either missed or forgot.)
 

Grayma

New Member
Grayma, what is your ASL goal? Do you want to interpret or do you want to be a fluent signer? That will make a difference as to how best to approach learning.

(Please forgive me if you answered this question in another thread that I either missed or forgot.)


Not to interpret.
I just want to be a fluent signer (and to understand fluent sign). I think that my expressive skills are much better than my receptive, if we discount my atrocious grammar.
 

Reba

Retired Terp
Premium Member
Not to interpret.
I just want to be a fluent signer (and to understand fluent sign).
Working with the local deaf community, as you're doing, and supplementing wit the on-line courses will probably get you there eventually. Formal face-to-face classes could speed up the process, and improve your grasp of the grammar. However, those classes might be harder to find and more expense than you want to invest.

If you were interested in interpreting, I would insist on the formal schooling.

I think that my expressive skills are much better than my receptive, if we discount my atrocious grammar.
That's normal for hearing people. Concentrate on getting the conceptual meanings of the signer.

If you were going to be a terp, you would have to also focus on using the appropriate English for voicing but since you're not interpreting, you can concentrate on the meaning without worrying about the actual English "word" that you need.
 

Nicolette730

New Member
I learned to sign when I became the nanny for a 2 month old little girl who was hard of hearing at 6 weeks she had hearing aids but we wanted her to be able to communicate with out her aids in. So we contacted early intervention and set up to have a teacher come to the house and teach us ASL our teacher was hard of hearing but only signed she didn't speak because both of her parents where deaf and she grew up signing so in class we where not allowed to speak we could only sign if we didn't know the sign for something that we where trying to say we had to act out or finger spell what we wanted to know and she would give us the sign for it. I feel like this was a great way to learn because we had to sign we couldn't use verbal words at all because she didn't understand and refused to read our lips!
 

Glenn

New Member
I learned by interacting with ASL users who were, for the most part, other deaf people.

I took some ASL classes in university to meet the foreign language requirement.
 

bluepeach

New Member
I am taking courses through my College at the moment. I am up to level four and considering going into the interpreting program. Not that it's my focus but because there are more jobs for intrepters than teachers, which is my focus. But no matter my goal is to sign smooth and fluid even if I am hearing I stillwant to learn the laugnaue correctly.
 

raqs loki

New Member
I'm taking an 8-week community course taught by a fun, amazing LDA (who also teaches intensive for-credit university courses). My notes are covered in stick people and weird attempts at drawing hand shapes...can't wait for my brain to stop trying to approach this like other languages I've studied.

I'm a hearie, but also a visual learner who thinks more in pictures than in words. I have ADD, so often it's very difficult for me to absorb what a person is saying if I look at them while they speak, or I have to keep my brain slightly busy with another task in order to pay attention. So of course, ASL is a wonderful change of pace. Right after my 8-wk course ends I'm moving and I plan to take formal ASL classes at a college in my new city.

When I was a little kid in Catholic gradeschool, we learned FS and a couple of songs in ASL, for no particular reason. I'm finding now that a few of the signs were either wrong or perhaps they've just changed (it's been over 10 years) but it was still a good starting point.

I have a bachelor of science in linguistics and have studied many foreign languages for fun. My uni didn't offer ASL, but I did learn a lot about Deaf people and deaf language acquisition in my neurolinguistics courses. My current line of work has allowed me to interact with a number of Deaf people and every time this happens I wish I knew ASL to communicate with them.
 

MissLady

New Member
I started by taking it as an elective while at college (beginning level). I became immersed in the local Deaf community about the same time and they encouraged me to become a terp, so I enrolled at the local ITP. I've learned great stuff at the ITP but have to say that it's through the local Deaf community that I really learned how to sign.
 

GrayEagle

New Member
I am taking beginning classes offered by our local Deaf Advocacy agency, for both HOH and Deaf. They are free and also right in town, so no commute or dealing with traffic, plus they are offered in the evenings so my husband, who works, can still attend with me. These classes are for the Late Deafened and Hard of Hearing, mostly, but anyone can come who has hearing loss, plus a family member. I like that it's not for the general public, because the environment is much more supportive. :)
 

eirlys

Member
I learned in the ASL classes I had to take in school. I started in 5th grade then continued on until 10th grade I think. I was in a class comprised mostly of late starting kids that were Deaf/HoH. My parents forced me into it because they weren't sure how much longer I'd be able to hear.

Then I quit using it and acted like a stupid teenager rebellious and promptly forgot most.
 

goldlegend

New Member
College was my first real exposure to ASL even with being a CODA.

But for example, my school offers a certification of proficiency for ASL if you don't want to go "all the way" to be a interpreter. Doing something like that and socializing, socializing, and... yes, socializing with your local Deaf community.
 

KristinaB

Emotional Mess
Premium Member
I am back to learning at LifePrint.com. I did take a class at my local Deaf Service Center, but they did not have any other classes. Also, I was in the process of making arrangements to learn from a friend who is deaf here locally, but for some reason, she is not getting back to me. No one from the Deaf church is responded to my email, texts, or PM's on FB.
 

Grayma

New Member
I need to fnd more opportunities of socializing, but don't know where or how.
I did just find out about a deaf coffee at a town an hour north of me once a month. The next meeting is on a day I'll be out of town,b ut maybe I will skulk in the back of the coffee shop some time in July.
 

MissLady

New Member
^ Type in "Deaf events in (your town name here)" on Google. There's usually information to be found. Or ask some of the Deaf in your area. Usually the residential schools have festivals, there are board meetings/conferences, or there may be outings to restaurants, theme parks, etc. Let your interest in going be known and people will fill you in.
 
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