SignWriting in Sign Language classes

Valerie Sutton signwriting at MAC.COM
Tue Oct 2 22:08:58 UTC 2007


SignWriting List
October 2, 2007

This is excellent, Cherie...

an excellent way to give them information and education indirectly,  
without a formal class in SignWriting...

If more Sign courses used SignWriting in this relaxed way, it would  
become obvious that the language can be written...and no one would  
feel under pressure to learn it, but would have access to it if they  
want to know more...

Val ;-)

------------


On Oct 2, 2007, at 2:32 PM, Cherie Wren wrote:

> In my sign classes (for adult staff new to our school) I hand out  
> vocabulary lists with the gloss, a written description of the sign,  
> and the signwriting.  The text books have diagrams/pictures of the  
> signs, but many people have trouble understanding them.  So I am  
> giving them three different ways to review the vocabulary we learn  
> in a lesson:  the picture, a written description, and the  
> signwriting.  Quite a few students have preferred the signwriting  
> to the other two methods.  I am not formally teaching the  
> signwriting, but I am exposing them to the idea, and letting them  
> see it in action (I use it in other ways during a lesson as well).  
> Some students ask questions about it, and I give them the address  
> for the textbooks online, and offer to teach them more if they are  
> interested.  Since I work in a deaf residential school (some people  
> very resistant to new ideas here,) I am cautious about how I go  
> about it, but I have more then a few people interested.
>
> cherie
>
> ----- Original Message ----
> From: Valerie Sutton <dac at signwriting.org>
> To: SignWriting List <sw-l at majordomo.valenciacc.edu>
> Sent: Tuesday, October 2, 2007 4:52:45 PM
> Subject: [sw-l] SignWriting in Sign Language classes
>
> SignWriting List
> October 2, 2007
>
> Hello Stefan -
> Thank you for this wonderful, thoughtful message...
>
> Everything you wrote is totally understandable for your classroom of
> Deaf students...
>
> There is a phrase I love, that says:  "Energy flows, where attention
> goes"...which means that wherever we focus our attention...we become
> skilled at that....so wherever we direct our energy, that
> expands...gets better...gets highlighted..is successful...
>
> So naturally, if the school does not allow the Deaf students, to put
> equal focus on learning Sign Language and SignWriting, along with
> learning to read and write German spoken language, then of course we
> cannot expect them to become good writers of Sign Language. They need
> "permission" to focus on writing SignWriting. They need to practice
> writing rows and rows of SignWriting symbols, just as in school, I
> was taught to write rows and rows of A, B and C when I was in first
> grade...that is how I learned to write...it took years of writing
> rows of symbols and then more years of learning to write term
> papers...I mean...no one learns to write in ten minutes...no matter
> what the language we are writing!
>
> So you are creating miracles, Stefan, within the restrictions of a
> difficult job with difficult restraints on your teaching of the
> students...
>
> But imagine for one minute, that you are teaching a Deaf child
> outside of the school system...and that Deaf child was given all the
> software needed, and all the time in the world, to learn to write by
> hand in SignWriting...
>
> You would have a Deaf poet, a Deaf author, a Deaf journalist, writing
> directly in SignWriting with no spoken language, and on top of that,
> his or her spoken language would improve as well, because he or she
> would be so excited to translate the material from DGS to German to
> show his parents and friends...that has been our experience in other
> cultures...there are Deaf and hearing people who do become scribes,
> or writers, and it is not hard, if the child feels supported in the
> freedom of it...but Deaf kids do pick up on it, if the hearing adults
> think it is hard, or think it is not worth their time...I am not
> referring to you...I know you support them all the way...I mean the
> other kids in the school, and the other teachers who do not choose to
> sign...
>
> I never forgot there was a darling Deaf child in New Mexico who LOVED
> SignWriting and was skilled at it, until one of her parents scoffed
> at it, and she stopped using it immediately... That shows you how
> smart Deaf children are...they can sense what they are not supposed
> to learn...
>
> So yes, I would hand out reading documents immediately if I am
> teaching SignWriting...not because I do not believe they cannot
> write, but because I know they can learn to read quickly...maybe not
> in a deep knowledge, but good enough to give them a feeling as to why
> it is important to write signs and give them a feeling that it is not
> hard to learn...
>
> I am glad you agree (I knew you did ;-))
>
> Thanks for your great message once again -
>
> Val ;-)
>
> ---------
>
>
> On Oct 2, 2007, at 1:23 PM, Stefan Wöhrmann wrote:
>
> > Hi Val and SW List members,
> >
> > reading all your comments I would like to add some thoughts to the
> > discussion.
> > Most of you know that I am a teacher for DEAF students and that my
> > students
> > and me started to incorporate SW for almost 6 years.
> > It is almost impossible - at least from my point of view- to
> > promote any
> > best syllabus/curriculum or method if it comes down how to begin
> > the SW -
> > course.
> >
> > The reason is that we are dealing with such a variety of different
> > students,
> > teacher, (political) circumstances and goals -
> >
> > Almost four  weeks ago I started a new class with 4 deaf students.
> > It took the less than a week to understand the advantage and the
> > principles
> > of how to read GebaerdenSchrift after they learned to identify the
> > SpeechWriting-symbols and some easy to grasp handshapes and
> > movement-arrows.
> >
> >
> > We all know this for some years now.
> >
> > What is new to me is that I have to accept that it is so
> > tremendously more
> > difficult to master the principles of SW as a scribe. So this seems
> > to be a
> > higher level task.
> >
> > Although my first group students are exellent SW-readers they have
> > a hard
> > time to create new documents from scratch. They even show
> > difficulties to
> > write down rows of handsymbols with different fills at different
> > planes and
> > orientation.
> >
> > I bet that this is part of the fact that we (in Germany) do not
> > allow them a
> > tenth of time to play around with SW-software  and to develop
> > handwriting
> > skills compared to learning to write the Spoken Language letters.
> >
> > (There is still - 2007 - a long way to go to overcome the fear and
> > prejudice
> > connected with DEAF Education and Sign Language)
> >
> > On the other hand - I am not talking of just a few signs. How many
> > signs in
> > a document would we teacher accept to be an reasonable achievement?
> > Well the
> > beginner should be happy to create a single new well written
> > dictionary
> > entry - smile.
> >
> > But then - compared to the documentes they are accustomed to - new
> > vocabulary, transcribed texts from the blackboard, ... they feel
> > frustrated
> > to watch themselves how time consuming this can be to create a two
> > pages
> > document - As an adult we can motivate us to become successfull
> > autodidacts
> > and we do have an idea about the reason for all the struggle - ...
> >
> > What I love to see is that they developed their own ideas on how a
> > sign
> > should be written, if I offer different variations, or that they
> > ask me to
> > write down a different performance of a given term. They understand
> > to use
> > the SW-documents to improve their bilingual competence.
> >
> > So I myself would support your idea Valerie to hand out SW-
> > documents from
> > the very first SL-lesson. You can learn (even if you do not
> > understand the
> > background and our 1000 reasons) to read the SW-symbols like
> > meaningfull
> > symbols that shoul remind you how to perform a sign
> > ( fingerspelling and
> > counting is a wonderful introduction with lots of "Aha", "I
> > understand" - "I
> > got it" - and I guess that nothing offers more motivation but
> > success. -
> > smile
> >
> > It will take a  l o n g  time until the students will be able to
> > develop a
> > feeling of being able to take notes in SW.  But there is nothing
> > bad just to
> > support their SL- development with SW-documents that are so easy to
> > "read"
> >
> > I am curious. I started  a new method with this second group. ...
> > and I will
> > keep you informed.
> >
> > All the best
> >
> > Stefan ;-)
> >
> >
> >
> > -----Urspr√ľngliche Nachricht-----
> > Von: sw-l-bounces at majordomo.valenciacc.edu
> > [mailto:sw-l-bounces at majordomo.valenciacc.edu] Im Auftrag von
> > Valerie Sutton
> > Gesendet: Dienstag, 2. Oktober 2007 16:08
> > An: SignWriting List
> > Betreff: [sw-l] SignWriting in Sign Language classes
> >
> > SignWriting List
> > October 2, 2007
> >
> > Dear SW List members!
> > Recently I have had several questions from teachers wondering how to
> > teach SignWriting in their school...They have asked for "course
> > outlines". I actually do not have a course outline for teaching
> > SignWriting as a separate subject...I just follow the Lessons in
> > SignWriting textbook format...
> >
> > http://www.signwriting.org/lessons/lessonsw/
> >
> > But that is the OLD way of teaching...
> >
> > I would like to suggest a NEW approach as well as the old way...
> >
> > Maybe it is time to start using SignWriting as a part of Sign
> > Language classes, without necessarily having a separate course in
> > SignWriting?...
> >
> > Of course there is nothing wrong with a separate course in
> > SignWriting! But separating it as a separate subject can confuse the
> > students too...
> >
> > When we learn French or Spanish in school, we learn to speak French
> > or Spanish in class, and we also learn to read it and possibly write
> > it in class too...all in the SAME class...
> >
> > So when you are teaching Sign Language courses, provide the students
> > with the signs they are learning in class, written in SignWriting on
> > paper, which they can take home with them, to study with...
> >
> > So although SignWriting can be taught as a separate subject, I am
> > suggesting that it might be best to just use it during classes where
> > students are using Sign Language...we write complete books in Sign
> > Language now, in SignWriting...so what is really needed is more
> > reading material in the Sign Languages of the world...
> >
> > This week and I am putting a book together using SignBank
> > DocumentMaker:
> >
> > SignBank
> > http://www.SignBank.org
> >
> > ...it is the ASL Bible, Chapters 1-7...a very large document!
> >
> > I hope different religions will also start writing translations of
> > their religious texts into SignWriting too...
> >
> > After the book I am working on right now, I will do the layout for
> > Cat in the Hat and Sleeping Beauty...so we are slowly getting
> > literature to read...
> >
> > Many thanks to all of the writiers!
> >
> >
> > Val ;-)
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > ____________________________________________
> >
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> >
> >
> >
> >
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> >
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>
> Valerie Sutton
> dac at signwriting.org
>
>
> SW-L SignWriting List
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>
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