“Signs are to eyes what words are to ears.”
After the unfortunate event described in my previous blog, I decided to double, no wait, triple my efforts to learn ASL. Here is my personal self-learning schedule, which is far from perfect I presume:
Week 1: Requirements Gathering
*Resource Collection: I collected miscellaneous learning materials before beginning my apprenticeship, notably: websites and online articles, phone applications, videos, and some printed material, all affordable of course (either free of less than $2). It is at this effect that I created the following the stack and playlist, which might be helpful to others who choose to embark on the same journey:
*Goals Setting: As adventurous as it may sound, people seldom embark on journeys without having the slightest idea as of where it may lead them. As a result, I had to select beforehand how much I should have learned by the end of each week, as well as how this progress should be evaluated, which led me the next point:
“I’m trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You’re the one that has to walk through it.”
Morpheus, The Matrix, 1999.
*Time Table: After setting aside at least 30 minutes, I designed the outline of my personal learning schedule. I expected things to change from time to time of course, but the main goal of this time table was to keep me on track to avoid procrastinating.
*Other Tools: In additional to a notepad, for logging my learning progress, I also decided to use my coiffeuse and webcam when practicing. The idea was to visualize my signing from the audience’s perspective.
*Community & Culture: While practicing alone may sound like fun, I knew that I would eventually need to properly communicate with a person fluent in ASL. As result, I started familiarizing myself with the Deaf Culture, which turned out to be more amazing than expected! HandSpeak and AllDeaf were the two community websites that I primarily used.
*Notes: Through these steps, I realized how much I had already been exposed to ASL, especially since I tend to describe things using my hand, based on my faint recollection of French Sign Language.
Week 2: Analysis & Design
*Alphabet: A fascinating point that I frequently encountered was the importance of learning the ASL alphabet. Not only does it help figuring out basic hand shapes, but also finger-spelling will prove itself useful more often than not. Beyond video tutorials such as the “Alphabet Song“, I discovered that a great way to quickly learn the ASL alphabet was by using it as a computer background and by learning to finger-spell names (people, objects, and places).
*Numbers: Before tackling more complex numbers, I decided to start with the basic: digits from 0 to 9. I added the number “10” to the list just for fun. After all, I am a big fan of the denary system.
Week 3: Coding & Testing
*Learning Basic Signs: There was no better place for me to start than Dr. Bill Vicars’s “First 100 Signs” and Expert Village’s “Common Phrases” video series.
*Practice Makes Perfect: Whoever said that did not have to learn to properly rehearse facial expressions dozens of times, due to the fact that they complement what is being signed. I should point out that started more and more attention to people’s gestures and lip movement as they converse.
Week 4+: Refactoring & Maintenance
(Immersion & Practice)
(Immersion & Practice)
*To Infinity and Beyond: This final section goes without saying and is the one I am currently in, and will most likely remain for the foreseeable future.