Language Lesson: Fingerspelling

Deaf teachers use visual strategies for incorporating fingerspelling into classroom instruction. Studies on these visual strategies show that they are a natural part of classroom interaction and are used to promote greater understanding and retention of academic material.

 

Three such instructional strategies for using fingerspelling are as follows:

 

(1) Chaining, (2) Sandwiching, and (3) Lexicalized Fingerspelling.

 

Chaining

 

Chaining is used for introducing new concepts or new vocabulary terms. Chaining creates associations by connecting signs, fingerspelling, and the printed/written word in a sequence, with one format reinforcing the previous one. Through chaining, the teacher provides multiple ways for the students to learn the word and concept. In addition, teachers may use objects, pictures, or multimedia to reinforce the concepts. For example, when teaching the word, tornado, a teacher might choose one of the following sequences:

 

1) Point to the word tornado written on the board;

2) fingerspell T-O-R-N-A-D-O; and

3) sign TORNADO.

 

Or:

 

1) Fingerspell T-O-R-N-A-D-O;

2) sign TORNADO; and

3) write tornado on the board.

 

Sandwiching

The sandwiching technique alternates between fingerspelling and signing. This method also reinforces the equivalency of ASL and English.

 

1) Fingerspell T-O-R-N-A-D-O;

2) sign TORNADO; and

3) fingerspell T-O-R-N-A-D-O again.

 

Or:

 

1) Sign TORNADO;

2) fingerspell T-O-R-N-A-D-O; and

3) sign TORNADO again.

 

Lexicalized Fingerspelling

New signs are created through a process where fingerspelled words are altered or lexicalized to become more sign-like. Commonly referred to as loan signs, these signs sometimes omit letters (#JOB) while others blend the handshapes seamlessly (#BUS). Through this process, a loan sign is formed. Lexicalized fingerspelled signs include nouns, verbs, adjectives, conjunctions, interjections and wh-words. Lexicalized fingerspelling transforms the fingerspelled word into a sign-like visual image. Deaf teachers often use this technique; first, they produce a neutral version of a fingerspelled word, and then follow that with a lexicalized version. This process supports visual memory and facilitates retention.

 

Common Fingerspelled Loan Signs

#BANK #BACK #OFF #ON #IF

#SALE #EARLY #BUT #BUS #CAR

#WHAT #DO #SO #OK #JOB

#YES #NO #DOG #TOY #FIX

 

 

What does lexicalized fingerspelling look like?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S8soqLZgPek


 

Reference:

Visual Language and Visual Learning Science of Learning Center. (2010, July). The Importance of Fingerspelling for Reading. (Research Brief No. 1). Washington, DC: Sharon Baker.

 


 

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Research: “The Importance of Fingerspelling for Reading”

“The Importance of Fingerspelling for Reading”
Visual Language & Visual Learning (VL2)
What is fingerspelling?
On the most simplistic level, fingerspelling can be defined as the use of handshapes to represent letters of the alphabet.

Key Findings on the Importance of Fingerspelling for Reading:
• Deaf families fingerspell to their deaf children when they are very young.
• Early exposure to fingerspelling helps these children become better readers.
• Fingerspelling, reading, and writing are interrelated.
• Fingerspelling facilitates English vocabulary growth, and larger the lexicon, the faster new vocabulary is learned.
• Fingerspelling positively correlates with stronger reading skills. Deaf and hard of hearing children who are good fingerspellers are good readers, and vice versa.

Source:
Visual Language and Visual Learning Science of Learning Center. (2010, July). The Importance of Fingerspelling for Reading. (Research Brief No. 1). Washington, DC: Sharon Baker.