Monday, October 29, 2012

Chapters 11-21

Chapter 11
I found this certain chapter in the book very beneficial. As a beginning learner of ASL, it’s important to know and understand the meaning behind certain signs. Before reading this chapter, I had no idea that certain signs held so much history; for example, the female and male signs.  I’ve noticed before that the typical female signs such as women, girl, mother, daughter, etc are all signed near the chin and mouth. However, I found it very interesting that these “female” signs resemble the tying of bonnet strings.
                I also read in the chapter about certain signs that are looked upon as racist. These include the sign for African-American, Japanese, Chinese, Korea, and Polish. For example, the African American sign represents a variant of the “Black Nose” (as stated in the book). Something that caught me off guard about this particular part in the chapter was the statement that “some African-American Deaf People still prefer the old sign for black.” After reflecting on the chapter, I thought about this particular comment for some time. Just like in other languages, there are certain words that are no longer seen as socially acceptable. However, some older generations of people still tend to use the words in everyday speech. Therefore, they don’t see the need to change or evolve with the ever-changing language. Nonetheless, American Sign Language is somewhat culturally connected to other languages in that way.

Chapter 12
I found the letter written by Tammy Kirk in the beginning of the chapter very courageous of a young child.  In the letter, Tammy discusses her reasoning behind wanting to learn ASL. One sentence in particular that she wrote caught my attention; “Even though they couldn’t hear, they were the funnest people to be with.” From personal experience, I’ve noticed that some people tend to have a negative stereotype concerning deaf individuals. They seem to think that they are incompetent, and are not capable of portraying emotion, humor, etc. However, in these past 3 months as an ASL student I have learned that this isn’t the case whatsoever!
After reading the chapter in its entirety, I found this piece of information the most beneficial:
·         The important thing is to get into practice, and, if possible, find someone who’s skillful in signing to practice with. That makes it more fun.
I’m a firm believer, that practice is the most beneficial study tool in becoming proficient in learning ASL.  I’ve learned that practicing with classmates and deaf individuals in the community is more helpful than studying alone! This allows for feedback and constructive criticism that can ultimately help you in the future.  

Chapter 13
Before reading this chapter, I had no idea that the “ILY” sign held so much negativity in the deaf community. The main reason it’s looked down upon is because it isn’t strictly ASL. It’s a combination of three letters of the standard alphabet. Another reason is because it has become a visual cliché and has lost its meaning. Just like the English language, people tend to overuse the word. Nonetheless, I feel as if the meaning of the word, and its use have somewhat been translated into American Sign Language.
                One particular thing that I found very interesting in the chapter was the part about Presidential Candidate Carter. This took place in 1977 during the Inauguration Day walk down Pennsylvania Avenue. President Carter chose to acknowledge a group of deaf individuals by flashing the ILY sign to them.  Ultimately, President Carter was a very good man who tried to reach everyone in the community. In the end, the deaf community greatly appreciated his effort.  Nonetheless, I find his effort to be very courteous.
                Another thing that I found interesting in this chapter was the statement that the “ILY” sign is arguably is the best-known hand sign in the world. I have trouble believing that to a certain extent. From my personal experiences thus far (even though they may be limited) I have yet to notice the use of the ILY sign by a deaf individual.

Chapter 14
                I feel like this chapter was somewhat geared towards me. I found the majority of the information in this chapter very beneficial for future use.  As an ASL student, I continue to struggle with be able to read fingerspelling. I have been practicing on my own, but haven’t shown much improvement. However, this chapter gave me a few ideas on how to become better.
                 I found the idea that you can fingerspell a favorite poem or brief prose item very useful. After reading this particular part in the chapter, I began to use this method for practice. Nonetheless, it really does help with the development of finger spelling. I also try and fingerspell when I have any free time whatsoever.  For example, I’ll watch a TV show and pick certain words during the program to fingerspell.  It’s definitely really good practice!
Another thing I found rather shocking was that manual dexterity is an important component of fingerspelling. I never realized that the strength of your hand would directly correlate with fingerspelling!
Chapter 15
As a hearing individual, I firmly believe that everyone should learn at least the basics of ASL.  For a deaf individual, ASL is there only way of communication. Therefore, it’s important we at least know the basics of the language to communicate with the ever growing population of deaf individuals among us.  You never know when you will meet a deaf person, and need to communicate with them! Even if you just know the alphabet and the basics of fingerspelling you will go far!
One point in the book I found interesting was that it can be used as a survival tool for anyone. There may be a time in your life when you are unable to vocally communicate. During this time, you can use ASL to communicate! As stated in the book, imagine you are choking and can’t talk; you can use ASL to explain to a peer that you are choking and need help. This can ultimately save your life in more ways than one!
Chapter 16
This chapter was very informative! I’ve wondered in the past if there were ways to teach yourself sign language in the comfort of your own home.
After reading this chapter, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not highly recommended to solely rely on instructional videos and CD-ROMS when it comes to learning ASL. However, I do believe that when mixed with the proper tools these instructional aids can actually help improve learning!
Chapter 17
                Before reading this chapter, I was completely unaware of the use of Pidgin Signed English. Nonetheless, I have heard of “Signed English,” in which the signer follows the sentence structure of English rather than ASL. However, I’m still slightly confused on the difference between “Signed English,” and “Pidgin Signed English.”  To me they generally seem the same, which very few differences.
                One thing I found interesting in this chapter, was learning that you have to use PSE in an English word order to speak and sign at the same time.  After reading this, I instantly thought about one of my favorite TV shows “Switched at Birth.” In this show, a young girl uses signed English to speak and sign at the same time. She does this to communicate with hearing people, and when translating for friends.            
                One question that lingers in the head about this chapter is how deaf individuals separate the two different languages? How do they tell the difference between the two? For example, if they grew up learning ASL, how would they be able to understand someone who is using Signed English which follows the English language structure?
Chapter 18
                In reading this chapter, I’ve learned about the “continuum” of American Sign Language. The continuum represents the entire population of sign language users. It shows the purest (signing exact English) approach to the purest ASL approach.           
                Ever since I read the last chapter, I have wondered how people determine whether or not “Signed English” is being used and how to determine when it’s being used. Ultimately the book states that you have to catch the rhythm of the sentence.  As a beginner ASL student, I don’t think I would be able to tell the difference right away. I feel as if only time will tell!  I just keep telling myself that practice makes perfect, and to not give up J
Chapter 19
I have never heard of Total Communication before.  To be honest, I’m still not quite sure what it entails. I learned from the chapter that TC is commonly but inaccurately used to mean “Simultaneous Communication,” (Aka Signing while talking).
After reading on in the Chapter, I learned that there are schools based solely off on Total Communication practices. However, I’m still on the fence whether or not these practices actually benefit the deaf student.  I read that in TC schools that are no deaf teachers or facilitators, and that most of the students were hearing! Therefore, I don’t feel like these schools would help deaf children. If anything it would make learning more difficult!  
Chapter 20
Growing up with a deaf cousin in the family definitely sparked my interest for learning ASL. However, when it became time for college I soon realized that many colleges around this area don’t offer ASL as a foreign Language. You would think since ASL is the one of the top most used languages, the majority of colleges and universities would recognize it as a foreign language!  However, I agree with the author when he states that it generally has to do something with faulty preconceptions that many people have about the language. Many people seem to think that it’s not a language because it can’t be written. However, that isn’t the case at all! ASL can be written in terms of glossing. The author also makes a good point when he compares ASL to the language of Navajo! All written language was created at one time or another. Therefore, long ago the language of Navajo had no written language either. Does that mean Navajo isn’t a recognized language? No.
Nonetheless, I do not take the opportunity to learn ASL for granted! It may have taken a few semesters (more like years) to get into but the time waiting was well worth it!

Chapter 21
                In many ways I’m similar to Alis! I have always wondered how deaf people feel when a hearing person approaches them using sign language.  Do you feel at ease? Do they feel uncomfortable? I have too also been fascinated by Sign Language! After reading the chapter, I’ve learned that there is an appropriate time to join into an ASL conversation. It’s considered rude to some deaf individuals to interrupt.  However, if you’re a grocery store waiting in the checkout line and you notice a deaf individual it’s perfectly fine to make small talk! J
One thing I found completely shocking was that older children have been known to mock deaf people while signing because they think it’s funny! That’s completely disrespectful and rude nonetheless!   I then read that some adults do this as well! I can’t believe that an adult would mimic someone in that way. If they roles were switched, I’m sure they wouldn’t appreciate the gesture!