Like a roller coaster

It has been quite the roller coaster ride at ASL immersion.  There are three teachers.  By all rights, there should be three classes.  One Beginner.  One Intermediate.  One Advanced.  Instead, all 40 students are rolled into one class.  Bad idea.

There must be 10 people who don’t sign (at all) or barely sign. For them, this has been largely a wasted week.  $400 worth of waste, not to mention housing and/or transportation costs. For the intermediate students such as myself the first day was deadly dull, the second day better, the third day showed real promise and today was either over everyone’s head or was like ASL 101 at Deaf Inc. in Allston. I finally refused to play the games.  Enough, already.

We do have one certified Signed English interpreter in our class so the range is incredible – from zero knowledge to 32 years of interpreting work. That being said, the terp can’t understand the rapid-fire ASL signing and almost nothing is explained.  I understand the concept – it is almost like shocking someone into focusing, which is great if you’ve got anything at all to hang your hat on.  If you don’t it is like being a Martian being air-dropped into Manhattan at rush hour.  It isn’t effective.  I’m too good a teacher to buy off on this. My students learn and pass high stakes tests. This is low stakes and what it may do is put the beginners off coming back and maybe even some of the intermediate folks.  I don’t know who thought this one up – apparently they had separate classes before – but they should give the “bath salts” back and get focused on reality again.

I am  not the least bit sure this immersion will do anything to enhance my ability to sign. Receptive skills will increase again, yes. Expressive skills, probably; not.  Hard to be expressive when you’re not signing.  And charades and pictionary games don’t do it.  I’ll be looking forward to classes with Ron starting soon.

I love relaxing into sign.  I love knowing that my ACoA meeting will be signed starting the 11th of July and then I will have 3 signed 12 step meetings.  With 1 meetup a week that makes 4 times a week – maybe 12 hours total of ASL.  But, mostly listening.   So I need to find out how to include more signing for me.  That’s the next challenge.


  1. Please note, there is a detailed comment on my comment page (accidentally placed in the wrong location by the writer) – you can check out the original or read the cut/pasted text below.

    “E Di Mare July 2, 2012 at 1:41 pm
    What were you thinking NU?? IMMERSION WEEK? For who? First, NU posts a description about “immersion week, 2012″, June 25 through June 29, 9-5. Everyone is invited — “whether you know a lot of ASL, are in the middle, know very little or none at all – everyone is welcome.” Now it was well understood that “immersion week” was not a class instruction. The instructors were not there to slow down their signing or explain everything to someone who didn’t understand. That was fine, we were all there to be “immersed.” We either understood everything that was going on, understood some or understood nothing at all. But the “invitation” said “everybody interested in ASL”. It was “immersion week”, right? so go and maybe you might get something out of it if you happened to be one of those people that barely knew any ASL at all.

    Why did the instructors FORCE people to play games? How were some people who did not understand ASL expected to understand the rules of the game when the instructor signed them so fast? Yet these people were forced into playing, not understanding what they were doing and felt terribly awkward and embarrassed. BEFORE people were forced to be split up into teams, it should have been “signed” or better yet written on the the infamous blackboard, ” if anyone feels uncomfortable, please move to a certain part of the room and just watch”. Maybe you might pick up something. But that was not the case. People were forced into teams and forced to play the games when they had no clue what the instructor was signing and who had no patience to slow down and explain.

    How would it be to reverse this: take a deaf person, all alone in a convenience store with a hearing clerk behind the counter. Behind the clerk there are 20 different kinds of juices/sodas. The deaf person wants a diet coke but he knows he can’t sign that to a hearing clerk. So he points hoping the clerk will help him. What should the clerk do? He/she can do one of two things. He can stand aside and point to each drink until the deaf person nods in affirmation when the diet coke is pointed to. Or, after pointing to two different drinks and seeing the deaf person shake his head ” no”, the clerk can throw his hands up in the air and wave the deaf person away. The clerk, in this case, is totally frustrated. This is the analog to NU’s instructors and their games as they signed the rules to play the game. There was impatience and an arrogance.

    Wake up, NU, either qualify your next IMMERSION WEEK by stating that it’s “only for those individuals” that really understand ASL and who will be required to participate in all activities OR that “all are welcome; this is not a class, there will be no explanations or slowing down of signing, but you are welcome to come and just OBSERVE, if you don’t feel comfortable in participating.”

    By the way, I did understand all that was going on, but I felt sorry for those that came and were made to feel stupid. I did not assume this, but talked to some of these people.”

  2. I agree, it was not well done. I plan to write to the program in addition to having reviewed them before I left for the day. I hope they learn from this experience.

    I did not understand everything, although I understood most of it. My receptive skills are better than my expressive ones, after all. That being said, if I dropped a Martian in Manhattan for an immersion experience there is still going to be a whole lot of pointing and low-level communication going on to get communication going. That didn’t happen here and I believe it was a very frustrating experience on many levels. The neophytes were virtually beside themselves at times. Dona the SEE terp got in trouble for trying to explain to people what was going on at the Homes for the Deaf and so on and so forth.

    I found it mind-numbing on Monday and I was thanking God they ran out of time to teach me signs for basketball on Friday.

    Really, it was a dud this year compared to what I’ve heard about it before. It is really sad for those who took a week off work and paid several hundred dollars to learn virtually nothing and be frustrated beyond belief.

    1. Thank you for your reply. I believe that NU owes some responsibility to the ASL community—–whether deaf, hoh, or hearing to give more serious thought to their “immersion program” in the future, in content and structure.

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