forum SignWriting List Forum
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From:  Valerie Sutton
Date:  Tue May 4, 1999  3:19 pm
Subject:  Questions Learn To Read ASL

Deborah asked:
>My students do not have strong ASL skills. Some came from programs that
>used signed English. I am hoping that SignWriting will be a good
>language model for them. What happens if my students produce
>SignWriting that is not perfect ASL? What if teachers want to
>participate but do not know sign? I really appreciate your help. This
>information will give me a better picture of what I am proposing to the
>administration. I look forward to hear from you.
>Deborah Holden

May 4, 1999

Hi Deborah -
I guess I see three questions above. The first is...Do you have to know ASL
to participate in our SW Literacy Project?

No.. Most school systems have a blend of teachers with different
backgrounds. Some are Deaf. Some are hearing. Some sign well, and others do
not. Such is life in the educational system! There is no problem with your
school participating in the SignWriting Literacy Project, if your teachers,
parents and students are interested and eager to learn :-)

The second question is ...What happens if your students do not write
"perfect ASL?

First, let's look at written English....Some people write excellent
English, and other people do not. But we still understand each other. So
just "try", and if someone doesn't write perfectly in ASL it is OK!
"Communication" is the key concern. And through experience, you will all
learn and improve together.

Second, since SignWriting writes any body movement, it can technically be
used to write any form of signing, including Signed English. Our
organization has "chosen to write ASL". But if your students write Signed
English, they are still learning to read and write, and in time they will
see the "difference between Signed English and ASL" and that is an
important learning experience for them.

The third question is...Will our SignWriting materials "teach you ASL"?

Your students and teachers can gain ASL vocabulary and knowledge of ASL
sentence structure from reading ASL literature. So their "general knowledge
of ASL" should improve. It does not mean they will sign ASL better, but in
the long run, if they read enough, in time it will "sink in". My signing
skills improved when I started writing ASL, but it does vary from student
to student, and it also takes time.

So, why not start right now, discussing some of those details? Reading the
frame by frame instruction of ASL sentences, with pictures of Darline
signing, can help to learn signs and sentence structure. As you know,
Darline is Deaf and a native signer, so that is why I based the lessons on
her "video storytelling".

Go to this lesson on the web....

Learn to Read American Sign Language

Let's look at the ASL sentence on that page. Can you see that the signs are
in this order:


I have noticed that titles of stories in ASL usually start with "WHAT
QUOTE", when the title is a "well-known" title. It is not a true question,
but it is essentially asking: what is the story I am going to tell you now?

This means that the sign for WHAT, has the head projected forward, because
asking a question in ASL usually projects the head forward. And Darline did
that on the video.

Those kind of details might help your teachers and students to learn ASL -
I hope so!

Thanks for all your questions, and feel free to ask more!

Valerie :-)

Valerie Sutton


The DAC, Deaf Action Committee for SW
Center For Sutton Movement Writing
an educational nonprofit organization
Box 517, La Jolla, CA, 92038-0517, USA

  Replies Author Date
1206 Questions About SW Valerie Sutton Wed  5/5/1999
1209 Re: Questions About SW Ingvild Kristine Roald Wed  5/5/1999
1210 Re: Questions About SW John Hill Wed  5/5/1999
1212 Re: Questions About SW Valerie Sutton Wed  5/5/1999
1211 Re: Questions About SW Valerie Sutton Wed  5/5/1999
1214 Re: Questions About SW Valerie Sutton Wed  5/5/1999
1221 Re: Questions About SW Valerie Sutton Sat  5/8/1999

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