Sunday, March 9, 2014

Slowly Learning ASL

Our family still hasn't made much progress with ASL. There was a mom-initiated push after the conclusion of my ASL 1 (or was it 2?) Community College course. I had about 200 signs down pretty well at that moment and wanted to teach them to the rest of the family.

It didn't take.

It's a shame really. I wish we had a better way to communicate when hearing aids aren't an option. At this point we have a few gestures that everyone understands to mean certain things. Julia can hear loud voices at close range well enough to get by. So we do that, letting the sign language and cued speech fade from our memory. The signs for "yes" and "no" are surprisingly useful. We get a lot of mileage out of just those two.

Still, we're trying to learn more in spite of abounding excuses.
The home screen of the ASL Story App, eMotion Stories
Home Screen of the eMotion Stories App
Our main instructor at this point is the iPhone/Pad. There are several great apps: iASL, (unfortunately, iASL is no longer in the app store) MarleeSigns, and ASL Coach. We use these as occasional time killers and to try to spur our learning.

There are also web sites, YouTube channels, and a new iPad app with ASL storybooks. These are an excellent option to build vocabulary for early ASL learners (like us) or to progress toward fluency for families that have chosen ASL as their child's first language. The eMotion Stories App is free from the iTunes store and includes the Ugly Duckling story. Goldilocks and Little Red Riding Hood are available for $3.99 each.

Each sentence of the story is highlighted while a video of a woman signing that portion of the story plays. There is a setting to display the book with or without the ASL video. You can also change from English word order to ASL word order (there's a big difference) so you can get a better idea of forming sentences that are correctly structured in ASL. Another section called "Word Play" includes a variety of signs to build single word ASL vocabulary.

The eMotion Stories app is worth checking out even just to expose yourself and your child to the artfully expressive world of ASL. The signs for a "very different, very big egg rolling down a hill" are much more entertaining than the printed sentence alone.

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