Thursday, August 21, 2008

Show Me A Sign

I will admit, I went into this with fairly low expectations. Generally when I am asked to teach a sign language class at church it is frustrating because everyone's expectations are different than mine. Or someone will have already taken a class somewhere and they like to tell me I'm doing a particular sign incorrectly - which leads to my lecture on the varying dialects of ASL (I won't bore you here) and the burning desire to sarcastically ask that person to go ahead and teach us the real way to sign the words I have used my entire life and they have known for 2 semesters.

But not tonight. Oh no, not tonight.

Things began casually with a review of what they had learned last week - various foods and the like. And then I told them I didn't have anything planned for my first class as teacher - but did anyone want to learn anything specific?

Did they ever.

It started innocently with signs for feelings - happy, sad, tired, bored... and the importance of using facial expressions to convey the extent of each emotion. I think the word "sick" is what started us going.

"How would you say sick - as in, sick to your stomach?" "And what if you feel like you are going to throw up?" "How about diarrhea?"

You can see where this is going. And going, and going... We even covered some medical terms. (One of the ladies is a nurse, so I felt justified...)

I swear, it was like we were at Scout Camp.

And so, this is how I came to enjoy one of the most enriching church enrichment classes our neighborhood has ever known. We had ladies of all ages and different walks of life having a grand old time laughing and learning together. I have never laughed so hard in my life while teaching ASL.

Ladies, thank you for destroying the stereotype. I am looking forward to next week.


annette said...

Aw, I missed out. I was at Dinohunter's open house, which was very good and helpful, but not as fun.

You are right, it is a great group. I'll be there next time!

Farscaper said...

I don't like teaching it for the same reason you have. I learned SEE first then, several years later, ASL. I have a mishmash of signs. I did take several years of it at the Y. That helped reign me in and clean up my sentence structure a LOT.

I've been signing as long as I have been talking (my deaf bro is a year older than me). I can hold my own in a conversation with a deaf person whom I've never met before. They do have to go slow since I don't do this all day every day like I use to.

I really REALLY dislike hearing people who took a class or had a brief lesson correcting me and telling me how I'm doing it wrong. I can talk to my brother and that's all that matters to me.

That aside... I would LOVE to sit in on one of your classes. There are a LOT of formal words that I don't know. Since you've been a professional interpreter you know a LOT more than I ever will. I'd love to impress my bro with some new words.

Teachinfourth said...

Maybe if you offered up the class with a nice little poster which advertised something to the effect of, "Signing...learn all of those words you always to, but never had the guts to ask about."

Just an idea.

BTW, how do you sign, "pancreas"?

Gerb said...

oh yeah, open house. I knew I forgot something last week!

So, you feel my pain. You should totally come to the next meeting - it will be fun!

I actually took a signing workshop called, "Signs Your Mother Doesn't Want You to Know", so I could have some serious fun with that.

Oh, pancreas is signed like this. (did you see that?)

Threeundertwo said...

How funny. I wish I could have seen that!

Shellie said...

Cool! Can I join? We could have used those signs a year ago...