Deaf Residential Schools in the US...
kjoanne403 at HOTMAIL.COM
Fri Jan 12 22:50:38 UTC 2007
>>True of most of the Deaf community here, too! I do think that's one of
>>the biggest hurdles to get over . . . the fact that most Deaf have never
>>imagined reading and writing ASL as part of their lives. What could make
>>things more difficult . . . most Deaf don't like to read or write because
>>they've only been exposed to written English, which they find difficult
>>to understand! Most Deaf don't read for pleasure . . . an attitude I
>>can't even begin to imagine, since I can't remember ever not being able
>>to read (been doing it since the age of 3) and have loved reading ever
>>since. I'm not sure quite how to cross that chasm. . .
>Oh. I can imagine not reading at all. Strange to hear me say that, isn't
>it? I love living in a visual world...
>Have you ever lived in a foreign country with no clue as to what the
>street-signs say in the written language of the country? Have you ever
>been with a group, where you are the only foreigner, and everyone else
>speaks another language? I have. And at first I hated it, but then I grew
>to respect the process of learning what was going on visually, never truly
>understanding anything that was said. The world became visual for awhile,
>since the sounds meant nothing, and I observed body language to get by. At
>the end, just smiling was the only solution to a conversation totally past
>my head...not knowing anything of what just transpired and wondering if it
>really mattered anyway...If people went away thinking I understood them
>they were wrong...I think a lot of hearing people assume that
>understanding is happening between deaf and hearing when it is not...
I actually haven't really had that experience . . . I did go to Uruguay in
2000, but I had already learned some Spanish and I could follow some
conversations, especially toward the end of the week. And I can read
Spanish quite well - a lot better than I can speak or understand by hearing
>Reading Danish for pleasure? Well...I am at around the third grade reading
>level in Danish...that means I can peruse a magazine in relaxed Danish,
>and with the combination of the pictures and the easy language I get the
>idea...but sitting down and reading a thick complex Danish novel about a
>subject matter I know nothing about, without any illustrations...for a
>third-grade level reader in Danish...that is not a pleasure...that is
>work! hoping I can understand half of it is a struggle to be sure I got
>all the nuances of advanced reading...and newspapers...forget it...too
>many large words I did not know...
Again, I have had that experience in Spanish . . . I wanted to learn it
since I was a kid but didn't have the opportunity until university . . . I
took to it quickly but you're right, I have to admit I don't know my own
reading level in Spanish but it must be at least grade 2 or 3. I have a
Spanish book that I started reading (I had actually read it in English first
and then found the Spanish translation . . . I would love to have a Spanish
book that's actually originally written in Spanish, instead of having to
trust that the translators did a good job! but most Spanish books I can find
around here don't look like the kind of books I'd be interested in reading
even if they were in English); anyway, I started reading it but I stopped
after a while because it was a lot of effort. The grammar I've got down
pretty well, but a lot of the vocabulary I don't know, and trying to figure
out every 4th or 5th word from context is a lot of work! So I guess I do
understand that after all. Newspaper and magazine articles I think I can
read, though . . .
>Not true for my native language English...
>But my third grade reading level in my second language Danish is a
>struggle and I make no apologies...it is not an attitude - it is a reality
>of skill and understanding...
It is a reality, for sure!
>Deaf people are forced to read their second language, a spoken language,
>with no writing system for their first language...that is totally unfair!
>And not pleasurable...so reading for pleasure is based on how skilled you
>are in the language you are reading...
That's for sure! I was interpreting for a fourth grade Deaf student last
year, which is why I looked into SignWriting in the first place. His
concept of reading was, "word I never use ... word I never use ... word ...
word I don't know so look up at interpreter for sign ... word I never use
..." (he had signs for things like "the", "by", "a", etc. but as you know,
ASL does not use these words so he only encountered them in English texts.)
And his only strategy for figuring out an unfamiliar word was to ask me what
it meant. And honestly, what could I do? Tell him to sound it out? :-)
Figure it out from context? That only works when you have a clue what
"context" is, and some idea of how the language is put together. That's why
I thought we needed SignWriting so much, so I could actually tell him to
think about it and figure it out himself. And then of course there are all
the idioms in English . . . three or four words in a row that don't make any
sense if you don't know the phrase . . . and that's another thing, he didn't
have any concept of a phrase. Often he would start to read an idiom and
there would be one word in it he didn't know, so I would bracket the phrase
with my fingers and tell him that those three (or however many) words
together meant (whatever sign). I didn't know if he was learning anything
until the other interpreter and I switched for a little while (she had some
physical challenges so I was taking a field trip for her or something), and
she watched him read; and he finger-bracketed a phrase and signed its
translation to her! (Any sign of learning was encouraging to us . . . the
kids had such low language even in ASL, that we were never sure what was
getting through and what wasn't.) I had thought for some time that a way to
write ASL would be a good idea . . . but working with this child really
kick-started me into looking into it.
There's my little vent ... I'm not working with him this year because my
evaluation didn't go well ... the other interpreter's didn't go well either
and she has 30 years' experience (or more)! So I don't know just what was
going on ... but I'm not working with Deaf at all this year, which is kind
of slowing down my SW advocating, though I am still in touch with his new
interpreter and she is interested in SW. Things are moving pretty slowly
there, though. Anyway. I have some understanding of what Deaf go through
because of trying to read Spanish, but even at that I know that I don't
fully understand because I did have language arts education in English, and
I had learned these higher-level skills and strategies that do transfer.
(For example, I have learned to contextualize and I do it automatically,
whether I'm reading English or Spanish; but many Deaf have trouble
contextualizing because they've never learned to do it in ASL.)
It's kind of like trying to figure out what it's like being Deaf by watching
TV with the sound off. Sure, you have to try to figure out what's going on
by watching peoples' actions, expressions and whatever lipreading you can
do, but you start to notice that you still have the sounds around the house:
the refrigerator running, the hum of the TV, cars passing outside . . .
it's a hint of what it's like, but it's not the complete experience.
>I have to get off my soap box...and must rest and prepare the Handwriting
Me too . . . rest well and looking forward to the Handwriting lessons coming
up! :-) Bye for now,
>Have a great evening everyone -
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