Tag Archives: sign language

Learn About TU: Learning ASL

Welcome back to another installment of Learn About TU! Today we will explore how our undergraduate students learn American Sign Language (ASL) in our program.

Our Deaf Education majors come to our university with a variety of levels of experience with ASL – some have Deaf family members who use ASL, or are Deaf themselves. Some began learning ASL in primary or secondary school. Some come to TU without ever having taken an ASL course! Our goal is to make sure that all of our graduates are fluent signers before they leave our campus.

This starts, of course, with ASL classes. Here at TU we use the Signing Naturally curriculum, and students taken ASL Levels I, II, III, and IV. In terms of formal course work, we also recommend that students take some more advanced ASL classes and interpreting classes at Tulsa Community College, which has a great interpreter training program and some wonderful professors!

We also get our students out into the Deaf Community as often as possible – we believe that this opportunity to interact with fluent and native signers is essential to ASL acquisition. Students must attend community events for ASL classes, and also must clock an additional 45 hours of community events prior to graduation through practicum courses. This is in addition to the 105 classroom practicum hours and a full semester of student teaching in environments that use ASL. Finally, our advanced methods course in teaching Deaf/Hard of Hearing students is taught entirely in ASL so that students have the opportunity for more advanced, academic ASL.

And after all this work to build ASL fluency, how is it evaluated? In the spring of junior year, our students attend a two week long practicum at a school for the Deaf. During this practicum, we arrange for their signing skills to be evaluated by a Deaf professional. These reports help both us and our students understand where their strengths are and what they need to work on further before graduation.

So there you have it! In our program you learn not only how to teach Deaf/Hard of Hearing children, but we also work hard to support you as you learn a new language!

Advertisements

Language Experience Activities

Something that is so important for all children is to have the language to talk about their experiences. One way in Deaf Education that we try to support this is by engaging in language experience activities – in the classroom, the teacher engages students in an experience, and then supports them as they discuss the experience by providing new vocabulary that might be useful. This can all of course be tied to literacy, as these experiences can then be written about, and this writing shared with peers.

Dr. Baker, in her Language Development and Deaf/Hard of Hearing Students class, had the opportunity to bring her undergraduates to a Deaf Education classroom where they planned and implemented their own language experience activities! Two of them agreed to write about this experience!

“Our Language Development class has been learning how to prepare Language Experience Approach lesson plans and we decided to try out a lesson on the five sense at Wright Elementary! I was in charge of the station that addressed the sense of touch! I created a folder that had various materials for each student to touch (Leather, Fleece, Feathers, Burlap, etc.). It was so much fun to see all the children’s eyes light up when they saw this very interactive activity! LEA’s are a great tool to help student learn new vocabulary terms in a manner that seems fun and playful! I had never worked with children this young before and it was very exciting to see how happy they were to see all the various items they got to put their little hands on! It was fun to show the children new signs such a soft, bumpy, and rough! I was so happy that I got to work with these cuties! I cannot wait to work with younger children again!” – Tonya North, Deaf Education major, junior

“Preparing for this LEA took place in Dr. Baker’s Language Development class each class was split into groups and given the responsibility of preparing their own LEA for Wright Elementary. The LEA that my group decided to present was “The 5 Senses” because there was 5 individuals in our group we were able to each split a ‘sense’. I chose smell, because I thought it would be fun to work with the children and practice facial expressions caused by the different smells.I taught them four different smells including; sweet, cinnamon, fresh/clean, and a dirty smell ( I used an old pair of socks for this example).I learned that patience is required when teaching Deaf or hard of hearing children and that not all children learn the same. This experience was very beneficial. I think LEA’s are extremely important because the children are allowed to learn hands-on and I feel as if LEA provide a different teaching technique that the children find extremely interesting. My overall take on this experience is that it was a fun and exciting way to interact with the children and it was fun to watch them learn and react differently to the LEA. At the end of the observation I was not ready to leave because I enjoyed just being around these children and playing with them and watching them learn. All children want to learn and it was so exciting to see these children commit to the LEA. I’ve personally been back in forth on whether to pursue this career field but the moment I’m around these amazing Deaf children I find myself with so much joy and passion all because of them, the more I’m around the Deaf community the more and more I fall in love with this Culture. It was an overall life changing experience and I can’t wait to see where it takes me.” – Kadan Brady, Deaf Education minor, senior

Strategic Interactive Writing Instruction (SIWI)

Last night (Monday, September 8, 2014), we at University of Tulsa were lucky enough to have Dr. Kim Wolbers, a professor in Deaf Education from University of Tennessee, join us for a talk on her program – the Strategic Interactive Writing Program (SIWI). Not only did our Deaf Education students join us for this unique opportunity, but local teachers of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing from K-12 schools and the local community college also were able to come by.

photo
Dr. Wolbers presents about SIWI.

Dr. Wolber’s program is a unique one, which focuses on language development in both ASL and English (when it is implemented in signing schools) and encourages students to use resources from their stronger language to help inform their comprehension and expressive abilities in their developing language. During her presentation, she emphasized the importance of not asking leading questions as this risks misunderstanding of students – instead, as they try to describe their experiences, ask neutral questions that will bring out a mutual understanding of what really happened between the teacher and the student. ¬†Through this program, students first have the opportunity to share what they know and have experienced through signing (if the child uses sign language), and then with the support of the teacher transfer this understanding into conventional English. Although the program focuses on upper elementary students and older, she has seen it in action with children as young as pre-kindergarten age.

Dr. Wolbers is a world class researcher and professor. All of us at TU are so grateful that she was able to share some of her time with us! We can’t wait to see more of this type of instruction in action!

photo[1]