06 November 2013

Language intensive: ASL Week 1

American Sign Language is one of the most unique and fun languages to learn. As a visual and gestural language, it definitely catches more attention when mentioned in conversation that you sign (or are learning sign).

Why we need to learn american sign language

I started learning sign as a kid. I don't remember where I learned the ASL alphabet, but wherever I did definitely planted the ASL seed in my brain to love this language and its community. I took an ASL class when I was a kid, but the teacher was Korean and I couldn't understand him, so I asked my mom to stop taking me. In high school, I started learning on my own again, stopped practicing, and then had to pick it up again shortly after I left college.

Which leads me to where I am today.

Currently, I can introduce myself, check a guest into the hotel, and handle most hotel related issues completely in ASL if they sign slowly.

So that's cool. But I want complete fluency. So I'm taking an online course through ASL University by Dr. Bill Vicars to review/gain vocabulary and increase comprehension . I also watch Switched at Birth on ABC Family and watch Deaf vlogs on YouTube and DeafVideoTV to help with comprehension and maybe pick up some new signs.

I've been at it for about a week and I've gotta say, I'm proud of how much I've actually remembered from the past. I've just gotten through Unit 1 (out of 3), which contains Lessons 1-5. Lessons 1-3 were a lot of review and 4-5 has been a lot of new material for me.

I finally got internet this week so less trips to the library and more time at home will allow me to schedule language exchanges hopefully with Deaf people (read here about the "d/Deaf" thing). There's a sweet community on Google+ for language learners. All of my languages are on there, but ASL is one of the least frequent with Hangout practices.

For now, the videos Dr. Bill puts out on every lesson help somewhat, since he holds a conversation with another student, but I firmly believe there is no substitute for real time conversation when learning a language.

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