Date: Tue Nov 3, 1998 5:46
SignWriting List Forum
Subject: Re: a "proper" suggestion
The rain/mudslide damage was centered on the Pacific side of Nicaragua,
mostly in the northwest. I phoned Bluefields this afternoon and they
apparently were more or less unaffected. As you can sense from the news
reports, however, the devastation in the northwest is incomprehensible.
(It's not just the thousands dead. These people depend upon well water.
Without drinking water, civilization collapses within days.) Judy performs
research in those areas, and in fact is scheduled to return next month --
that seems most unlikely now.
The students in Bluefields do not yet use SW between themselves. They are
at the reading level, but not the production (writing) level. Anselmo uses
it, but no one else as yet. The students spend substantial time reading
our texts, and this gives them whole word recognition. For the advanced
students, we have them learn how to type SW on the computer. This entails
hours of practice, as you can imagine. The next step is to use good old
fashioned pencil and paper. It is a process.
Bear in mind that our students are very late language learners. Anselmo,
for example, is the best Signwriter in the school, but his command of
Nicaraguan Sign Language is limited. He is a gifted individual, but he did
not begin language acquisition until he was 15. So, SW has been a
tremendous boon to him.
Ultimately, I believe that many of the students will use SW to communicate
with each other. We are ready to start experimenting with that next
session. It is all a step by step process -- just like learning to read
and write english. I am bemused by the frustration some of the
contributors to SW's computer chat line seem to express. It seems parents
or teachers who try to teach children SW expect instant gratification. Let
me be clear on this. I never expected a miracle from SW. I see it as a
bona fide and wonderful writing system for sign languages, and I expect
teaching it correctly will take patience and time. I studied readin n
writin throughout grade school and beyond,
I dunno how many texts we have produced. Some stuff is only a page or two.
Other material is fairly lengthy, as you know. We did The Little Engine
that Could in a day. Babar took longer. Moby Dick (a children's
illustrated adaption of about 15 actual pages of full text) will take us a
month to do right.
We are teaching SW to 7 and 8 year olds, as well as teens. So, we take it
slowly -- one step at a time.
I can't believe I'm up this late -- I'm working the polls from 6:30AM to