bunt sign

Wednesday, February 4, 2004

When I got home from my ASL class last night, I sat at the computer for more than two hours. By that time it was after midnight and I still had things to do before I could sleep. I'm not complaining that the class lets out too late, although I still sometimes wish we could have got into the 4-7 pm section instead of the 7-10 pm one. I'm just lamenting the fact that there aren't enough hours in the day. Again.

Class was fun, though, and I'll gladly stay the extra fifteen minutes or so for story time every Tuesday night. We have to "vote" every week to have a story. The teacher always asks, and then he pretends to think hard about what he's going to tell us. Last night it was a man-walks-into-a-bar story, but those old ones take on a whole new level of coolness when told in sign language by someone with a gift for conveying meaning without saying it out loud.

According to the course syllabus we were supposed to have our first midterm exam next week, but we were awfully relieved last night when he told us we wouldn't have the test for three weeks. We're simply not ready. This business of learning a language is fun, sure, but it's also hard work. There's a lot to remember, and frankly, the course materials aren't quite ready for prime time. We're testing a new version of the text, and the new video that goes with it. When we're asked to evaluate it, I'm going to have a lot to say.

For one thing, the hand positions on the video aren't clear at all. They give us close-ups of the numbers and letters for finger spelling, but that part is easy. Some of the other signs involve interlocking fingers or small gestures, and I simply can't tell what the person is doing. We eventually go over these signs in class, and sometimes the teacher shows us alternate ways of signing them, but it's really frustrating to replay three seconds of tape over and over and still not know what to do.

My work day is taking a bit of a hit, because I try to do an hour or so of homework late in the afternoon, when (in theory) I might still be getting some work done. For the last week I've been watching the same fourteen minutes of exercises every day on the video, over and over again, so it was good to get a new assignment last night. I spent an hour on it today, and there are parts that I still won't quite get until we go over them in class.

We've had four class sessions so far, and we're not even halfway through Unit 2. The plan was to get through Unit 6 by the end of the eighteen-week semester, and I guess that's still possible, but I'd hate to go much faster.

On the other hand, a new subject gets easier as you go along. That is, the subject itself isn't easier, but learning it is, once you've grown used to the framework in which it's taught. We're still in this getting-to-know stage, where we're getting to know the book and the teacher and the way we all fit together in a learning environment.

Once we get past some of the initial awkwardness, I think it will go more smoothly. I hope so, anyway, because it's the only way we'll get enough done to move on to the next level.

4 February 2004

Cloudy in the west.

I can't say for sure, but I strongly suspect there are some students in that class who don't put in as much time as Suzanne and I do. And if we're confused and frustrated at times, I can imagine how those others must feel. But it would be nice, even if they don't have time to do the homework, if they'd at least pay attention in the classroom, so Joe doesn't have to ask someone to tap them on the shoulder and remind them to look at him.

We only have three hours a week in that room, so there's precious little time to waste. I don't think that's everyone's attitude, but it's mine.

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We learned addition and subtraction last night. Since we can't count any higher than 29, the questions were pretty easy — or so I thought. Unfortunately, my partner was severely math-challenged. I tried to keep the questions pretty basic, but when she missed 19 - 17, I apologized to her. ("Sorry" is one word I know.)

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