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From:  Stefan Woehrmann
Date:  Mon May 22, 2000  3:06 pm
Subject:  SW - ask the students how to spell ??

Hello Lorraine

thanks for your answer.

Lorraine wrote :

> Hi Stefan and SW list,
> Just read your questions regarding DGS number notations. It started me
> thinking about SW numbers in ASL as well. I would ask the students. See
> makes sense to them for directionality of the arrows. As they are early
> learners in this process maybe accuracy is less important at this point
> ownership of their language and notation. Accuracy could be cleaned up
> in the process. Anyone have thoughts on this?

Well - Iīm not able to answer your question. I`ve got no experience. We are
now two classes at our school who work on a daily basis with SW. (7th grade
and first grade)

The students of the seventh grade are able to understand the single elements
of a whole sign. They are able to "read the signs " more and more exactly.
The typical mistakes of beginners still confuse them very much - which will
not happen on an advanced level.
Itīs almost the same with our writing in German oder English . Itīs easy to
understand the idea of the message if you are familiar with the writing
system. But itīs almost impossible to understand what the author had in mind
if you are a beginner.
We are in the beginning of writing SW by hand. (Thanks Valerie for your
practical advice ) I prepared some exercises - but the pupils feel better to
write down their messages or complete sentences - just the way they feel
they would sign it . Of course - SW by hand isnīt easy at all and without a
SW 4.3 program we hadnīt managed to get so far. But - and this is a very
important point - Iīm so fascinated to realize that I am able to
understand the handwritten notes of my pupils so easily. This should be an
interesting point for linguists and for us who teach SW as well. Why ? Well
if this SW-system allows misspellings without too much damage to the idea of
the message - it shows a certain strenght for comunication. It will take
some months - maybe - until my students would be able to write very detailed
or very exactly a complex content - but that doesnīt matter.
My idea is to allow them and me a close look at the differences of the two
languages in order to find a way to improve literacy. As I pointed out
before - we are on the way. We are working bilingual . My pupils learn to
read and sign the SW-texts fluently. The young pupils first grade
demonstrate day by day that it is no extra burdon - no additional task which
takes time and energy - not at all. That is a secret to me every day. One
glance at the whole sign is enough - and they keep it in their minds - I
In case the single elements of SW (rotation-movement arrows) are associated
with movements that arenīt represented by the SW-symbols - that might be a
hindrance for a gliding into the process of reading - I donīt know that !!!!
I would like to offer SW - materials that are written in a way that the
movement could be done by any SW-expert in the world without knowing the
meaning of the sign ! (When I started in September 99 I was a beginner and
made lots of mistakes - that didnīt confuse them too much - ha !!)
But especially the young children donīt focus on every single part of a sign
but take it as a whole entity - as a "Gestalt" . I wasnīt able so far to
find out what kind of element is the most important one? That would be an
interesting subject to change a sign piece by piece in order to find out
what makes the difference - ...
It is my responsibility to allow the students to add more and more distinct
"Gestalten" to their SW-vocabulary. In the beginning I mixed up several
movement symbols - in fact - my dictionary is full of mistakes - but today I
am able to find them ;-))) . Nevertheless - the reason that Iīm asking so
many spelling questions is that I would like to help my pupils to get
familiar with the single elements of a sign as soon as possible. If Irina or
Danny makes a mistake - I can wait and often they help each other to
identify whatīs wrong ...

Grammar is a very different issue. Thank you Valerie for your advice just to
let go. I offer a possibility to express a specific idea : for example Irina
is asked to tell Danny that he should fetch the blue bucket. With my
videocamera I try to videotape this interaction in order to write short
sentences in SW.
Written SL may differ from signed SL ? We are on the way to find that out 4
years later ;-)

Things will improve as soon as adult Deaf people can support us with our
SW - project. So far we are on our own and try to achieve a higher level of
competence - step by step -- day by day.

Mistakes are our friends.

All the best to all of you

Stefan ;-)

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