It’s a Wrap – Learning Project week 11

The first semester is coming to a close and it is time to wrap up my learning project with a bow on top because Christmas time is here! Learning ASL throughout my first semester of University has been an educational experience. I have had the opportunity to develop an ASL vocabulary and grow an understanding of how the language works and how to predict signs for foreign terms to me based on my prior knowledge. Beyond my ASL accomplishments, I have gained confidence presenting myself online, I have learned how to find resourceful websites, articles, videos, and apps to assist me in my learning, and my video editing skills have skyrocketed from not even knowing what platforms were available to producing clear and edited videos to share on YouTube. Learning ASL has been a journey, and I am excited to look back on the steps I traveled throughout my exciting expedition.

Learning Project week 1 – ASL, I’m Ready for the Challenge

Week 1 I wasn’t sure what to expect being new to blogging and having never fully taught myself a skill through online means but I was confident with my decision to learn ASL. I used this week’s post to explain my motives for wanting to learn sign language.

  • Introduction to project
  • Inspiration for learning
  • Researching resources that could potentially be helpful
  • Developing a plan by deciding on what vocabulary terms I hoped to focus on

Learning Project week 2 – Kindergarten ASL

Week 2 was my first week of learning signs and filming my understanding and progress.

  • Alphabet:
    • easy to learn when practicing along to the tune of the ABC song
    • significant to the ASL language, used often when signing other terms
    • ASL That’s alphabet video
  • Colours:
  • first experience of video editing and publishing problems

Learning Project week 3 – Stepping up my Emotion

Week 3 I introduced myself to sings that required emotion and facial expressions which is a vital aspect of communicating through ASL

Learning Project week 4 – Family First

Week 4 I started to pick up on ASL trends and make connections between the vocabulary terms I was learning

  • Being home for the Thanksgiving weekend, I decided to focus on learning family signs because I realized the importance of communicating with family
  • I learned nouns and pronouns to help me describe my family members interests: see week 10
  • started analyzing gestures rather than just memorizing
  • made connections between the gestures to help me understand the language
  • Finally publishing high-quality videos, thank-you Screencastify!

Learning Project week 5 – Calendar Crazy

Week 5 I focused on the days of the week and the months of the year because I realized the importance of being able to communicate schedules in my everyday life.

  • Days of the week:
  • Months of the year:
  • I increased my understanding of the importance of the alphabet. The individual letter signs are iconic and used often when signing other terms.
  • I continued to gain a better understanding of the ASL language and confidence when memorizing individual terms

Learning Project week 6 – Whether it’s Hot or Cold (Weather ASL)

Week 6 I challenged myself to learn whether related terms because as a prairie citizen I experience drastic weather changes that impact how I live my life.

  • similar to week 3, I was able to enhance my signing by incorporating gestures
  • I learned a variety of vast gestures without a pattern to rely on
  • By noticing that some of the signs related to how I would visualize them to be represented diminishing the chances of confusing them with other gestures.
  • YouTube video for weather sings by nollme
  • ASL That’s Weather video
  • Meredith ASL’s Weather video
  • By watching several videos, I noticed that each individual signs the terms slightly different
    • I learned that variances occur in ASL due to the different ways it can feel more natural to place your fingers among individuals.
  • Reminded myself that in any language a vocabulary must be developed before sentences can be pieced together in order to stay optimistic about my learning journey.

Learning Project week 7 – Happy Holidays

Week 7 was inspired by Halloween and my love for celebrating the holidays and passing on cheer and holiday wishes to others.

  • In the spirit of the timing, I focused on Halloween related terms
  • Learning holidays of my interest was difficult because most Youtube videos are American but I found some videos to help me get started
  • This week I discovered my favorite resource for my learning project: Handspeek.com which includes an ASL dictionary which allows me to look up individual terms and watch immediate video clips on relay specific to the particular term.
  • I started noticing my ASL progress because despite having my previous videos to look back on, I didn’t find that I needed to because I remembered my previously acquired ASL signs.

Learning Project week 8 – Get your Head in the Game

Week 8’s learning topic was once again inspired by my family and our love and dedication to sports.

  • I relied on the Youtube channels and resources that I have used in the past weeks because I was confident that they would work for me
  • I noticed that many of the signs related to an action performed while playing the sport making them easy to learn and remember
  • Again the importance of knowing the ASL alphabet which I focused on in week 2 was highlighted because letters are used frequently when signing different sport’s names
  • I practiced finger spelling which is used when there is no concrete sign but by spelling out the word using the ASL alphabet, it can still be clearly communicated.
  • This week was highly enjoyable because the topic of sports interested me

Learning Project week 9 – Captivating Careers

Week 9 was focused on careers which expanded my ASL vocabulary immensely. I also came across an inspiring resource that summarized ASL emergency terms.

  • Terms describing careers were easy to find due to the endless number of career options available today
  • I chose to organize my terms alphabetically because I was tackling a large number of gestures at once. This proved to be helpful because again the ASL alphabet is used when signing the title of jobs
  • I noticed several careers are signed with the sign for person coming after the sign for the subject of the career which then allowed me to expand my vocabulary further by understanding that the initial gesture described a different word
  • I learned valuable sings that could be used to save lives in emergency situations which reminded me of my purpose of learning ASL

Learning Project week 10 – Putting it all Together

Week 10 I challenged myself to make sense of my vocabulary and connect my learning topics from my prior weeks of study.

  • Finally communicating simple sentences!
  • Week 2: alphabet and colours, week 4: family relationships, week 5: months of the year (birthdays), week 7: holidays, week 8: sports, and week 9: careers
  • In order to form sentences I learned a few additional words through the use of:
  • I put my knowledge to the test and demonstrated my ASL knowledge that I have obtained throughout the past 10 weeks.

My Top Five Takeaways:

1.YouTube truly is an educational resource: Prior to my ASL learning expedition, I had never depended on Youtube to teach myself anything and I only used it for entertainment purposes. Throughout my experience, I realized that Youtube is a terrific way to learn online because of the immense number of videos available on every topic of interest and the immediate visual that is accessible which is a lot easier to follow and learn from in comparison to written steps or descriptions.

2. Presenting yourself online is beneficial: The thought of creating a blog and Youtube channel to present my learning initially scared me but it turned out to be to my benefit. Receiving nearly immediate feedback and suggestions from my classmates was motivating, encouraging, and helped me take pride in my work. I also loved being able to look at my classmate’s work for inspiration and in order to pass on words of encouragement in return. I am no longer scared of constructive criticism because I can physically see that by taking the advice of my classmates my work has improved throughout my weekly posts.

3.Learning new things is possible through online means: I never thought it would be possible to learn a language independently through entirely online resources but I am continually proving myself wrong as I gain more and more ASL knowledge. Truth is, despite it being through a computer screen, the internet allows for communication between people all across the world and so even though I developed my ASL vocabulary in my bedroom, I was not alone and had the help of many other individuals. The internet has excellent educational resources that are there to help people learn.

4. ASL isn’t easy, but with dedication and motivation, it is possible: Learning ASL was a major time commitment and required lots of work however the more I learn and practice the more it makes sense and becomes easier to understand. ASL has been an interest of mine for years and I am grateful to have had this motivating opportunity for the push to begin learning. I can confidently say that I now have the skills to talk to those who lack their hearing and that makes the work I put in well worth it.

5. The EDTC 300 Learning Project is nothing to be afraid of: The first day of EDTC 300 scared me when I was told I would have to learn something new through online means and film my progress. Turns out, I had nothing to be afraid of and that this has been the most rewarding assignment I have ever participated in because of the beneficial skills I have developed that will continue to assist me in my future.

Thank-you EDTC 300 classmates for all of your support throughout my Learning Project and Katia for providing me with the perfect opportunity to tackle learning ASL. I am excited to continue to practice the ASL language and use my new internet skills in the future.

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Putting it all Together – Learning Project week 10

Throughout my Learning Project, I have spent my weeks focusing on specific topics and developing an ASL vocabulary. This week I put the collection of terms I have learned together and finally communicated some sentences. I used the alphabet I learned in week two to fingerspell my family member’s names and the months of the year from week five to describe their birthdays. I then incorporated colours from week two, holidays from week seven, sports from week eight, and careers from week nine. By choosing to describe my family members, I was also able to include the family terms I acquired in week four. Although for the most part, I focused on putting signs together this week, I also learned a few new terms to help me connect the words.

These include: name, is, the, favourite, in, for, the, city, older, twin, jail guard, are & and. Most of my new vocabulary words are general sentence structure terms because I have already fully covered the topics of family, colours, months, sports, holidays, and careers, but a few of the new words still fit in those categories and are just specific to my personal family.

Because I was looking for specific terms, I depended on the ASL Dictionary on Handspeek.com that I have used in the previous weeks but when I failed to find what I was looking for there, I discovered a new helpful site. I found signingsavy.com which had every word I was looking for, however, the site was not very efficient to use. Rather than the search engine producing an immediate sign for the word requested, it makes you scroll through a list of every term it knows that starts with the same letter as your requested word making it a very tedious process. I appreciated the large variety of terms available but I would only recommend it if after trying out other resources you are still in need of a particular signed word.

After putting my descriptions together, I struggled tremendously with the sound while recording the screencast with screencastify, but eventually captured a recording that could be understood following several failed attempts. A script to my video is included in the video’s caption on YouTube providing another opportunity for viewers to follow along with its context (click show more in the caption of the video).

It is crazy how fast ten weeks went by but I am proud of my progress and feel that this week I was finally able to put my knowledge to the test and demonstrate my learning to its fullest potential!

  • Kendall. S

Captivating Careers – Learning Project week 9

Things became serious this week as I explored careers in ASL and detected a limitless number of occupations available. Without looking far, I was able to easily discover signs for forty-two jobs which greatly expanded my ASL vocabulary. Similar to the past, ASL That’s video was extremely fast and did not include any descriptive details or advice for remembering the terms. The video does, however, demonstrate a variety of careers which provided me with a strong starting point for this week’s learning. Jane Dews’ ASL channel was new to me this week, but I found her video extremely helpful because of the comprehensive explanations she provides as she performs each gesture. I again depended on Handspeek’s ASL dictionary to find careers that weren’t presented in the videos or to clarify the details of some of the signs that were not clearly demonstrated in the videos.

As my list of terms to learn continued to grow this week, I was nervous that I would not be able to remember them all, but I quickly picked up on trends and tricks to help keep them sorted in my head. I chose to organize them alphabetically and since when signing many of the occupations, you position your hand in the letter that the job title begins with, it helped me to not only acquire the new signs but also remember them. For example, when signing dentist or doctor, you position your dominant hand in the sign for the letter “d”. Many of the career signs also end the same way with the sign for “person” coming after the sign for the subject of the career. An example of this would be the career “biologist”, where you start with the sign for biology and conclude with the sign for person simplifying a “biologist” to a biology person. Other tricks I developed to help me learn some specific signs include:

  • Athlete – begins with the sign for “sport” which I remember from last week
  • Astronaut- appears as if your dominant hand is a rocket launching off of your other hand which acts as the launch pad
  • Cashier – includes the motion of typing as if you were calculating the total of a customer’s purchase
  • EMT- is simply signed through “finger spelling”
  • Dentist- this sign takes place near your teeth making it uniquely recognizable from the others
  • Doctor/Nurse- both are performed with your dominant hand in the starting letter position and tapped on your other wrist as if you were checking for your pulse
  • Firefighter – your dominant hand models the shield on a firefighting helmet
  • Police officer – your dominant hand is in the position of the letter “c” for cop and is tapped against your chest where the officer badge would normally be found
  • Trainer – begins with the sign for “practice” which I learned last week and allowed me to conclude that practice and train are categorized together in ASL

After sticking to my plan for this week of learning signs for careers, I came across an inspiring resource which motivated me to continue to learn and I was able to connect the information to this week’s topic of study. When I initially started my learning project, I was excited to learn ASL to be prepared to communicate with my students, community members, and people who I meet while traveling. This week I finally learned terms that I consider to be valuable because they relate to emergency situations and will allow me to provide comfort to those who are deaf. Following the trend of occupations, I learned to sign EMT and eleven words that are essential to helping others in threatening situations and significant in the work of paramedics. Knowing an individual’s allergies, medical history, or where they are hurting could help me save a life and I am ecstatic to have the information to communicate these topics through ASL signs.

This week was extremely beneficial to my learning progress as I acquired an abundance of terms including some that can be useful in emergency situations. Every week I continue to notice new patterns and tricks in the ASL language allowing me to develop in knowledge and be confident that I have adopted a new skill.

-Kendall. S

Get Your Head in the Game – Learning Project week 8

I grew up in a sports enthusiast household where my family was involved with several sports and included the nature of sports into several aspects of our lives. My siblings and I all played many sports, my dad officiated and coached in many leagues, my mom was our biggest cheerleader, our favourite family activities were attending sporting events together, and for many family photos, we are dressed in jerseys. Sports continue to have a major impact on my life, and I have expanded my sporting knowledge to be able to communicate about them through ASL.

Winning Sports Awards in Grade 8

My Dad officiating Hockey

Watching my twin brother play hockey

As in my previous weeks, I relied on Heather Berry as a resource who has a video on ASL sports that includes instructions in how to sign each sport. Rather than just performing the gesture, Heather explains what she is doing with her hands making it easier to understand, replicate and remember. ASL That has a helpful video which demonstrates terms related to sports rather than the sports themselves which allowed me to expand my ASL sports vocabulary beyond just the titles of sports. Finding a video on YouTube that included the list of sports I was interested in learning was difficult though due to the vast variety of sports and which ones are popular in different regions. For some sports including Dance, and Hockey and extra terms such as “team” and “league”, I relied on the ASL Dictionary on Hanspeek.com that I discovered last week. Simply being able to search a specific term and have a demonstration appear is an efficient way to learn the gestures that I struggled to find in videos. It is beneficial to be able to watch the single sign repeatedly until I am confident with executing it myself.

There is an abundance of sports and different ways of naming them depending on which country you live in similarly to the variations I noticed in the different ways of signing them in ASL. Most of the signs relate to an action used to play the sport, for example, the sign for Volleyball is similar to if you were blocking a spike at the net, which made it easier to remember what sign was associated with what sport. My prior knowledge of sports was useful in helping me to make these connections and understand why a particular gesture was chosen for a specific sport.

Again, I noticed the importance of knowing the ASL Alphabet, which I learned in week two of my project, prior to learning other ASL signs because the letters are used frequently. In the gesture for “archery”, both fists demonstrate the letter “a”, and in the sign for “team”, both hands are in the letter “t” position. Although the recurrent use of the ASL alphabet surprised me, I am realizing that I should have expected it because similarly to any other language you must know the alphabet before you can form and spell words. The ASL alphabet can also be used for words that do not have a specific gesture associated to them but can be spelled out using the alphabet, for example, I was unable to find a concrete sign for the sports “rugby” and “lacrosse” but I was still able to communicate them through fingerspelling with the ASL alphabet.

This week I expanded my ASL vocabulary with terms that relate to my family’s interests and lifestyle. Knowing the signs for sports will allow me to communicate with others about some of my favourite past times and invite those who lack hearing to participate in sporting functions. Sporting events are popular social gatherings and anyone who wishes to join them should be included and have the right to participate. Due to my strong interest in sports, I enjoyed my learning experience this week and expanded my ASL vocabulary with terms that are regularly a part of my daily conversations.  In the upcoming weeks, I look forward to learning more terms that impact my everyday life, revolve around my passions, and that would be useful for making others feel included.

Happy Holidays – Learning Project week 7

Happy Halloween! This past week has been full of Halloween festivities including pumpkin carving, costume contests, candy eating, house decorating, and the ghostbuster theme song. I love joining in the creativity and traditions that each holiday brings and spreading the festive cheer. This holiday season prompted me to learn different holidays in ASL while focusing on things related to Halloween.

Happy H-OWL- oween

Learning the holidays was fun because they are terms that excite me. I quickly noticed that each holiday does not consist of a single gesture but rather each individual word is signed separately and I picked up the following tricks to help me remember the following terms:

  • New Years: remember the sign for year from Calendar Crazy
  • Valentines: hold both hands in the letter “v” position and then move them to make  the shape of a heart over your heart
  • Easter: hold your hand in the letter “e” sign and motion it to create the handle of an Easter basket
  • Mother/Father: remember the signs for mom and dad from Family First
  • Thanksgiving: remember the sign for thank-you from Stepping up my Emotion
  • Christmas: hold your hand in the letter “C” and motion it to create part of a wreath
  • Merry: letter m
  • Happy: the motion indicates your heart leaping for joy

This week, I noticed my development in ASL knowledge because although I have my previous videos to look back on, I didn’t find that I needed to. I noticed that I remembered the terms from previous weeks and made the connections without recalling back. It is encouraging to know that I’m not only learning the terms each week but that they are becoming muscle memory and I am beginning to connect terms together. This will be helpful in the upcoming weeks because some gestures will no longer be brand new and surprising to me but rather I may be able to expect them and link them to the vocabulary of terms I already am familiar with.

I began my learning journey by searching YouTube as per usual and found several helpful videos. Blue Eyed Jackson’s video was perfectly in the spirit of Halloween and covered every term you could imagine that is related to Halloween which was awesome to find all in one source. Heather Berry, who I have looked at in the past, had a helpful video which included great detail in explaining each gesture and walked them through step by step. Most of the videos I found were American and did not include all the holidays I hoped to learn but luckily, I came across a short clip from ASL That which enthusiastically taught me how to sign Canada Day. After exhausting my YouTube options, I discovered Handspeek which included a dictionary of ASL terms all performed in miniature video clips. The awesome site includes word reviews and distinct categories but also allows you to search specific words and phrases. I will be sure to explore more of the site in the future weeks and look to it as a valuable source as I continue to expand my vocabulary.

Holidays are exciting times of the year that everyone deserves an opportunity to participate in. I am honoured to now have the skills to be able to wish good holiday cheer onto those who lack their hearing no matter the season. I hope to continue the fun of learning ASL that I experienced this week in my future learning endeavors.

  • Kendall. S

Whether it’s Hot or Cold (Weather ASL) – Learning Project week 6

Whether the weather is Hot or cold, windy or snowing, raining or cloudy, there is an abundance of words used for describing the weather that you often hear living in Saskatchewan. As prairie citizens, we are familiar with the drastic changes in weather experienced throughout the year and are constantly trying to be prepared for any weather that is thrown our way. It is important that in our everyday lives, we know what weather to expect so that we can plan our activities and make informed decisions about what to wear outside. Communicating about the weather is a simple everyday occurrence but essential to making the most out of each and every day.

This week in Regina, we experienced everything from extreme wind storms to bright and sunny hot temperatures and even cloudy and rainy days. Living in the prairies, it is fitting to learn terms associated with weather in ASL because it is constantly changing and greatly impacts the way we live our lives. Initially, I knew I could learn the different seasons and terms surrounding temperature but then my list continued to grow and it became clear to me how many words are used every day to describe the weather.

This week there were not many patterns connecting the terms I chose to learn together as in comparison to the trends I have discovered in the previous weeks. I was nervous about learning a vast variety of gestures and not having a pattern to rely on, but I had nothing to worry about. The distinct actions took more time to learn and remember but when it came to putting them together I never had the problem of mixing them up or confusing them with one another. I noticed that some of the signs were related to how you would visualize the term to be represented which made them easier to remember and helped me to stay encouraged. For Example:

  • The action for snow looks as if your fingers are falling snowflakes.
  • The Action for wind looks as if your hands are leaves blowing in the wind.
  • The action for tornado includes your fingers twisting amongst each other in the way I would interpret a tornado to twist.

Similar to week 3, I was able to include emotions in my weather gestures which made the learning more engaging and fun. My facial expressions helped me to make connections with what I visualize when I think of each term allowing me to connect some gestures with an expression rather than just a word making the memorizing process easier. The facial expressions also help me to convincingly convey the actions so that even if someone is not familiar with my hand gestures, they will still have extra evidence about the term that I am communicating making it easier to understand.

This week I explored many YouTube videos to find the inspiration I needed. I appreciate the large numbers of diverse videos available to me so that I can learn from different perspectives and formats without having to tirelessly search for helpful resources. The video published by nollme included many terms to pick from, all related to weather, but was very fast and had no description or advice for learning the terms. ASL That’s video includes clear hand gestures but more than just the specific terms are presented through ASL making it difficult for me to follow as a learner. Meredith ASL includes lots of emotion in her video making it engaging to watch, however, some terms she signs are not clearly labeled so It can be confusing as to what specific word she is singing at a particular moment. I also noticed that each individual signed the terms slightly different which made it difficult to understand which way was the right way. I came to the understanding that many variances occur in ASL depending on how it is more natural for individuals to position their fingers. Similarly to how pronunciation variances occur in spoken languages, there are altering ways to sign terms in ASL.

Exploring the videos clarified that I am learning more words each week but, I am still a long way from being able to understand and communicate full conversations through ASL. As in any language, the words must be learned before sentences can be pieced together which is why I am still optimistic about my learning success and motivated to continue to develop a larger ASL vocabulary. Week by week I am continually improving my ASL knowledge, and I’m looking forward to where next week will lead me!

  • Kendall. S

Calendar Crazy – Learning Project week 5

The hustle and bustle of university means it is crucial to stay on schedule and pay attention to the dates because time passes by very quickly. This week I communicated scheduling times with my family, friends, teachers, and group project members. I payed attention to due dates to ensure I was completing my work on time, and I looked at my finals schedule to begin planning my Christmas break. I realized the significance of being able to communicate with terms used in the calendar year no matter what you are doing or who you are collaborating with.

I challenged myself to learn the days of the week and the months of the year along with a few other related terms to ensure I am capable to communicate schedules with everyone. This week I quickly noticed more trends that assisted me to remember the signs. All the days of the week incorporate the same motion just different signs and some of the days include the letter sign for the first letter of the word (for example, when signing Saturday, your hand is in the “s” position). The months also all follow the same format but different letters are signed to abbreviate the names (for example, when signing January, the letters “j” and “n” are used).

Learning the days of the week and the months brought to my attention the importance of the ASL alphabet. The signs for each letter are iconic and come up very often when signing other terms, thankfully they teach it to you in kindergarten. To my surprise, I still remember the entire ASL alphabet which made this weeks learning much quicker and proves that after practice and repetition, the gestures will become muscle memory. As in the prior weeks, I found other YouTube videos to be the most helpful because certain sections can easily be replayed repeatedly until I have confidently mastered the specific part and am ready to move to the next. ASL That has a  quick and basic video of the days of the week, and Heather Berry goes into detail explaining how to gesture each month in her video.

Although my ASL vocabulary still seems minimal in the grand scheme of things, I believe I am developing a greater understanding on how terms are connected and demonstrate more courage when memorizing and signing each term. I have increased my confidence in basic video editing so I challenge myself to continue to evolve my editing skills and try new things in the future weeks. I am looking forward to continuing to learn, and adventure down the path of ASL communication.

  • Kendall.S