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Alumna Vicky Allen (Zander), MEd ’73, publishes American Sign Language as a Bridge to English

May 17, 2017

American Sign Language as a Bridge to English is a guide for hearing teachers of hearing students to use ASL as a ‘bridge’ to learning English as a foreign language. This handbook has over 250 signs to be used in the classroom, each with a simple illustration and description. There are also ‘Snippets’ of information that teachers will find helpful.

The uniqueness of this book is that it teaches the handshapes of ASL prior to learning the ABC’s. By introducing the handshapes first, not the alphabet, a teacher who is learning to sign for the first time will have a better opportunity to teach the signs correctly without needing to be fluent in ASL. The kinesthetic addition of ASL will help students more readily recall the English word by putting ‘ever-present’ flashcards in their hands. Since many of the handshapes represent letters of the alphabet, students will soon be fingerspelling their names without formally learning the ABCs.

This book is not attempting to teach the language of American Sign Language but to use ASL as a tactile aid to recalling the English word. But, in saying this, some students and teachers, hopefully, will be motivated to continue to learn American Sign Language as a subsequent foreign language.

“My inspiration for writing the book was the fact that I saw how using signs to teach English helped break the dependency a student had on their native language,” said Vicky. “It gave them a physical motion to use to help them try to recall the spoken English word. Sign language paints a picture in the air so it also helps to explain multi-meaning words that are so difficult for non-native speakers to learn.”

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