Nicaraguan Progress Report
sutton at SIGNWRITING.ORG
Wed Apr 23 23:44:38 UTC 2003
April 23, 2003
On Saturday, April 12, 2003, James/Judy Shepard-Kegl wrote:
> The attached progress report contains samples of Spanish sentences
> written by three Deaf students in Nicaragua after about one month of
> training using our Level I Spanish primer, which uses SignWriting to
> explain Spanish. I would be happy to answer anyone's questions. --
> James Shepard-Kegl
Dear SignWriting List, and James and Judy!
Thank you sooo much for this amazing report. I appreciate it and I am
sorry it has taken me so long to respond. I am so impressed,
James...You should be commended for the enormous job you have
undertaken, and for creating your own schools and developing so much
literature...Before we go on, let me share your report with the List.
Here is the report...it is a long one!! Val ;-)
Nicaraguan Sign Language Projects, Inc.
52 Whitney Farms Rd.
North Yarmouth, ME 04097
April 11, 2003
Deaf Action Committee for SignWriting
La Jolla, CA
The following material consists chiefly of excerpts from our report to
the sponsors of two teacher trainees attending the school in
Bluefields. I have changed the names of the trainees to A and B, and I
have excised material that does not relate to the literacy program. At
the end, for comparative purposes, I have attached a list of sample
sentences from trainee C (who is younger than A and B and has been
schooled only in Bluefields.)
As you are aware, the Level I Spanish primer uses SignWriting
extensively to compare and contrast the rules of Spanish and Nicaraguan
Sign Language. The accompanying glossary lists Spanish words contained
in the Level I and II primers alongside their sign glosses (written in
SignWriting). The testing material requires adequate literacy skills
Evaluation: A and B in Bluefields: January - March, 2003
Program Structure for Teacher Trainees:
Nicaraguan Sign Language Projects, Inc. conducted three weeks of
teacher training morning, afternoon and evening in January while the
school was suspended for winter break. The regular afternoon school
sessions resumed on January 27. However, we continued holding morning
and evening tutorials for the three teacher trainees, including A and
B. Ms. A and Ms. B returned to Condega on March 22.
The philosophy of the Bluefields School is that all classes are to be
taught directly or with the assistance of Deaf teachers using
Nicaraguan Sign Language. We recognize that these Deaf teachers
require intensive schooling themselves. Our intention is to provide
instruction to the teachers at a pace and level of sophistication well
above that presented to the students in the regular school classroom.
Accordingly, this evaluation treats the trainees from two perspectives:
their achievement as students in the tutorial sessions and their
performance as teachers in the classroom.
The tutorial sessions emphasized the following topics:
Phase 4 of the Literacy Program: Spanish Level I and an introduction to
Spanish Level II. The Level I text compares and contrasts basic
Spanish syntax (subject-verb-object) with the syntax of Nicaraguan Sign
Language (grounded object - moving figure.) The Level I text focuses
on simple present tense sentences using nouns, verbs, objects and
adjectives. Future tense is limited to IR + infinitive constructions.
The Level I text stresses the concept that many words in Spanish have
multiple meanings and can only be understood in context. The text
introduces comparatives and the preposition "EN". Verbs are described
as transitive, intransitive, reflexive or copulative. We want the
trainees to be able to consistently produce simple, but grammatically
correct present and future tense showing proper word order, agreement
and verb form.
The regular afternoon school resumed activities on January 27. School
classes were more structured with greater incorporation of SignWriting
into the daily curriculum. We were aware that in past sessions in
Bluefields and in Condega, the teachers [A and B] have been hesitant to
teach their students to read the sign language. We realized that while
the teachers were able to read Nicaraguan Sign Language by whole word
recognition, they tended to feel uncomfortable with their own abilities
to decode words using SignWriting. Therefore, we devoted time to
working with the teachers in their ability to understand the
SignWriting system. This in turn allowed the teachers to take better
advantage of the SignWriting reading material when teaching stories in
the classroom in Bluefields. We would hope that the teachers are now
using many of these reading lessons (three volumes) in Condega.
Evaluation of A:
Spanish: The Spanish Level I and Level II texts present grammar
lessons based upon approximately 525 Spanish words. A's ability to
recognize most of the vocabulary words used in the Level I text is
good. Our emphasis, however, is more upon rules of grammar and syntax
than simple word recognition.
Example of testing format:
Circle the nouns: El hombre viejo da la leche al gato negro.
Select the correct sentence:
_____ Yo lavo la cara.
_____ Yo se lava la cara.
_____ Yo me lava la cara.
_____ Yo estoy lavandome la cara.
Juan compra una camisa celeste y una gorra roja. La camisa celeste
cuesta cincuenta cordobas. La gorra cuesta treinta cordobas. Sandra
compra una camisa blanca. La camisa blanca es tan cara como la camisa
celeste. Cuánto cuestan la camisa celeste y la gorra roja? _____
Cuánto cuesta la camisa blanca? _____
D. Filling in the blank: La mujer está __________ la tarta.
A was first tested on January 22, 2003, less than three weeks into the
program and before completion of the Level I curriculum. (We intend to
concentrate on Level II in mid-2003.) The test takes about 3 hours and
was given intentionally prematurely more as a learning experience than
as a measure of progress. A week later, A contracted conjunctivitis
and was unable to attend to her regular teaching duties in the school.
We took advantage of this respite to retest her on January 31.
Test results: January 31, 2003:
Identification of written signs (no Spanish): 16 correct; 0 errors.
Spanish days of the week: 6 correct; 0 errors.
Matching Spanish months with signs: 11 correct; 0 errors.
Spanish to signs: multiple choice: 39 correct; 0 errors.
Present tense conjugations (matching): 11 correct; 0 errors.
Adjective, verb, noun recognition: 35 correct; 5 errors.
Selection of grammatically correct sentence in a series of 4: 18
correct; 5 errors.
Comprehension of a paragraph in SignWriting (questions in Spanish): 2
correct; 3 errors.
Comprehension of Spanish paragraphs: 4 correct; 0 errors (with
Organizing 10 Spanish captions to illustrations in a story sequence:
Filling in the blank:
Correct root word: 28 correct; 1 error (but only a misspelling).
Correct conjugation or agreement: 22 correct; 6 errors.
Sentence creativity: Correct syntax. Correct use of quotation marks.
Correct punctuation. Correct pluralization. Correct use of articles.
Correct adjective agreement. Usually correct conjugation. Errors:
mixing of SER and ESTAR, failure to convert A EL to AL, improper form
of verb following IR, failure to use preposition A after IR in creating
Overall impression: A already had a limited repertoire of Spanish
sentences learned in her experience at the convent school in Ciudad
Dario. These sentences often contained errors in diction, grammar or
syntax, although A's meaning could be discerned. Our objective was not
to present a list of sentences to be memorized. Rather, we wanted to
teach basic sentence equations, that is to say, rules of grammar and
syntax to be followed in constructing sentences. A's instinct was to
generate Spanish sentences with a level of complexity beyond her
abilities. Our goal was to encourage her to produce at this stage more
simple, but grammatically correct sentences. We wanted A to think of
Spanish as rule governed and for her to stay within the framework of
rules that we were teaching. A's testing scores (and class
performance), we believe, clearly demonstrate she has the aptitude to
do this. Her raw achievement scores listed above are quite good.
The sentences below are samples of A's homework in February. She was
furnished with a list of words (usually verb infinitives) and was
required to construct a sentence for each word. She was encouraged to
use the glossary that accompanies the Level I and II texts. A then had
to type her sentences for email transmission. There are some obvious
typographical errors, and we are assuming that some of the punctuation
errors may be attributed to her unfamiliarity with the keyboard. While
there are also some errors in spelling and grammar, overall these
sentences demonstrate very good progress.
Amar = Yo amo a mi mama
Comprar = Claudia compra zapatos y pantalon
Dar = Geovanny no puede dar el panuelo rojo a Tomasa
Decir = Mi mama dice ;No quiero a mi novio
Dolor = Yo tengo dolor de cabeza
Donde esta = Donde esta la casa de Jhondra
Dormir = Nosotros estamos durmiendo en la cama
En = Yo estoy en Bluefields
Ir = Yo no puedo ir a managua
Ir futuro= Yo voy a hacer una casa.
Juegar= Yo juego con la pelota.
Lavar = Zelideth lava la ropa
Lavarse = Yo estoy lavandome los pies.
Llevar = Tomasa lleva los zapatos
Mas Que = El barco blanco es mas caro que el carro rojo
Me duele = Me duele la boca
Poder = Tomasa puede bailar por la noche.
Poner = Tomasa pone la caja en su cama
Pregunta = El hombre pregunta ‘’ cuantos cuesto los pantalon hoy ‘’
Querer = Yo quiero visitar a mi mama en Palacaguina.
Ser = El gato es feo y flaco
Tan como = La casa de Tomasita es tan grande como la casa de Claudia.
Tener = Daphny tiene 19 ano.
Tener ganas = Yo tengo ganas de mirar a Managua.
Tener que = Yo tengo que ir a Condega
Vender = Andrew vende repollo y papas.
During February and March, Claudia has been teaching SignWriting
everyday, and should now be more comfortable using the system in
Evaluation of B:
Spanish: B has sufficient Spanish vocabulary and reads SignWriting
well enough to use the textbook material effectively. She does not
have the repertoire of Spanish sentences that A learned at the convent
school. That may actually be an advantage since B tends to confine
herself more to our curriculum. B tends to generate sentences that are
simple and, usually, correct.
B was tested on January 22, 2003, less than three weeks into the
program. and before completion of the Level I curriculum. The test
takes about 3 hours and was given intentionally prematurely more as a
learning experience than as a measure of progress. Due to time
constraints, B was not retested. Her January 22 test results are not
available, and in fairness, cannot be compared to A's results in a
retest following class discussions of the testing material. However,
B's performance was commensurate with that of the other students in the
The sentences below are examples from various February homework
assignments originally entered by pen in a notebook. It is obvious
that B had difficulty with capitalization and punctuation using the
computer keyboard. In class, her use of capitalization for the most
part was correct. We note in these and other examples that B at times
forgets to conjugate the verb. For the most part, however, her
conjugations are correct. Her use of comparatives is correct. A very
few words are misspelled. She does not understand that the verb
"preguntar" introduces an interrogative sentence. She confuses at
times Spanish possessive pronouns (no doubt because possessives are
conveyed quite differently in her native sign language.) All in all at
this stage, this is very good work.
amar=yo no amo a mi primo
comprar=zoila compra las frutas y las verduras
dar=yessica da un helada a adela
decir=claudia dice’yo estoy enferma’
dolor=yo tengo dolor de menstruacion
/donde esta/ /donde esta la casa de zoila
dormir=los ninos estan durmiendos en la cama
en= la nina barre en el patio
estar=el pajaro esta mojado
ir=yo quiero ir a nueva guinea
ir futuro=yo voy a comprar una camisa y un brasier
juegar= daphny y claudia juegan beisbol
lavar=mi mama lava la ropa
lavarse= yo me lavo el cuello
llevar=nosotros llevamos las frutas y las verduras
mas que=claudia es mas flaca que daphny
me duele me duele los brazos
menos que=la camisa roja es menos cara que los pantalones
poner=la muchacha pone la camisa en el ropero
preguntar =claudia pregunta’mi novio se llama geovanny
ser = yo soy flaca y alta
tan como=la tarea de uldita es tan facil como la tarea de pedro
tener=mi mama tiene sententa y tres anos
tener ganas=yo tengo ganas de visitar managua
tener que=daphny tene que comprar caramelos y chocolate
vender=zoila y yuri vender unas zapatos
The school day at the primary level in Bluefields was divided into
periods, as follows: 1) SignWriting,, 2) sign language and literature,
3) arts and crafts, 4) math, 5) Spanish (three days per week), and 6)
geography (two days per week). The schedule for the older students was
somewhat different, with a greater emphasis on social studies and
history. In the sign language and literature period, which was the
longest period, the teachers select a story from the SignWriting
reading texts. The teachers read and explain a page. Students then
take turns either reading the passage or paraphrasing it. Small groups
of children then dramatize the storyline before proceeding to the next
page. B had more experience with this format since A tended to be
working with the older group. However, both teachers have mastered the
language and reading skills needed to implement this structure. Their
performance as teachers under this format in Bluefields was excellent,
and we are eager to know whether they have been able to follow a
similar structure in Condega.
[ADDED FOR DEAF ACTION COMMITTEE]
Sample Sentences from C's Homework:
Amor = Yo amo a mi hermano
Comprar= Yo compro una camisa negra
Decir = Yo digo. “Yo tengo mucho sed.”
¿Dónde esta? = ¿Dónde esta la casa de los sordos.?
Dormir = Yo duermo con Tomasita.
Estar = Yo estoy en la casa verde.
Ser = Yo soy feo.
Ir = Yo voy a la casa de Ruth.
Ir ( Futuro) = Yo voy visitar a mi amiga en la casa.
Jugar = Yo quiero jugar en el parque.
Lavar = Yo voy a lavar la casa.
Lavarse = Yo me lavo el pelo.
Mas---Que = Daphny es mas alta que su hermano.
Menos---Que = Tomasita tiene menos dinero que Daphny.
Tan---Como = La suma de Daphny es tan suave como la suma de Denis.
Poder = Yo puedo manejar un carro.
Poner = Yo quiero poner la camisa en la caja.
Llevar = Maria lleva una libra de carne.
Preguntar = Yo voy preguntar. “¿cuanto cuesta el arroz hoy?”
Quierar = Yo quiero visitar a mi novio en Condega.
Tener Ganas = Claudia tiene ganas de mirar televisión.
Tener = Daphny tiene 19 anos.
Tener Que = Yo tengo que comprar frijoler.
Vender = Zeli vende una y manazanas.
Me Duele = Me duele los ojos.
Dar = Yo doy unos pantalones a mi amiga.
En = EL libro esta en la mesa.
Ir (Futuro) = Yo voy a visitar a Ruth en Palacauina.
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