Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Music and a Teaching Tool

I have been working on teaching Pookie sign language over the past
year. It has been very slow going. I have been wanting to teach Little
Miss to sign also. It is much easier with her, as you can imagine. I
am finding that she is very easy to teach, especially lately. I began
teaching her using songs that she enjoys. Teaching them ASL version of
sign language is the easiest form. In most music interpreting, ASL is
used. The interpreter does not sign exactly each word. Instead, the
important words needed to convey the message is signed while body
language and facial expressions fill in the gaps. It is a very
beautiful and flowing language. I love teaching Little Miss to sign.
By teaching her more words first, she will be able to interpret for
Pookie when they are at Grandma's, Sunday School, or other times when I
may not be right with them. Who knows? Maybe one day Little Miss will
have the chance to serve as an interpreter herself.

By doing a search on YouTube, many videos can be found that show songs
interpreted into signing. I began by looking up the names of songs that
we sing at church. Some videos are better quality than others, but they
all serve as a lesson. One video that I watched was done by someone
very new to being an interpreter. She didn't use facial expression and
body language effectively. Another video by a more experienced
interpreter gave a beautiful example of how to sign. Through these two
videos, I not only learned what signs to use in the songs, but I saw the
importance of using the facial expression & body language. The first
video, the interpreter knew was very good in her signing, but the
stiffness in her body language didn't seem "right." In the second
video, the difference was amazing. The interpreter was so flowing in
the signing that it was like a dance. Her movements were graceful and
the body language & expressions matched the feeling in the song. It was
an excellent reminder to me.

Years ago, when I was a teen, I did a bit of interpreting for some
missionaries. They were teaching a deaf-mute couple and neither of the
missionaries knew how to sign. My skills were very elementary at that
time, but sufficient to be able to interpret. It helped that I knew the
couple and had a friendship with them. They were the ones who had been
very helpful in teaching me to sign. We understood each other well.
That time in my life has always stuck with me in my heart. I loved
being able to communicate with them through signing. I took a course in
sign language years later, but never had opportunity to put that
knowledge to use.

In teaching the kids to sign, the knowledge is coming back. I watch the
videos and so much is familiar to me. I found a couple of books at the
local library and they also are refreshing my memory. I have been
wanting to add a couple of good books to our family library so that we
can reference them as needed. The books that I am using are from the
1970's. I am hoping to find updated editions so that they will include
the signs for modern terms and technology. Beloved found a program that
I am going to be able to use to record short videos for him. When I
learn to use it, I will be able to record a video for him showing him
the signs that the kids are learning. This will help him while on the
truck. When he comes home, he will be able to understand the signing
also. I already catch myself talking with my hands from time to time.
My theory is that if we using signing as well as speaking at home, then
Pookie will be able to pick up on both as we go along. It is a form of
total immersion. It is so much better than simply teaching one sign at
a time. Both kids will also be learning the signs in context instead of

Using the songs that the kids enjoy listening to as a launching point,
Little Miss is learning a wider vocabulary faster. Pookie loves doing
fingerplay type songs, so this is just another form of it for him. He
is very receptive to the lessons and doesn't realize that it is therapy
as well.