Teacher at the LBZ-H Osnabrueck/ Germany
To: "SignWriting" <DAC@SignWriting.org>
Subject: Web Report #1
Monday, 30 Aug 1999
1. Why do you want to learn SignWriting?
When I started to learn German Sign Language
(DGS) I couldn't look back on any foundations.
I knew nothing about German Sign Language and
had a hard time to shift my perception from
the auditive to the visual channel. To realize
how to move my hands, my arms, my body - how
to accompany my signs with an appropriate facial
expression was not so easy. In order to keep
this combination of the various components for
a special sign in mind, I tried to describe
every single sign in words. This way I invented
lots and lots of cribs and filled a lot of copy-books.
Depending on how well I characterized the movements
in my own words, I could repeat the signs correctly
until they were familiar to me.
Teaching various subjects at school there is
every day the need to learn new signs in order
to introduce them to my pupils. Today I would
take advantage of SW as I could take notes for
the many new signs I have got to learn. There
are a few Sign Language CDs and Sign Language
dictionaries published in Germany. Maybe we
can refer to these videoclips and fotos with
movement arrows and description to have a competent
native signer as our model.
With the help of SW hopefully young pupils discover
their potential for learning the German words
as well (just as we learned our second language?).
SignWriting would demand consciousness for the
exact performance of a sign from me and my pupils.
In Germany there are quite a lot of dialects
in DGS. Introducing SW at the beginning of the
pupils schooldays might hopefully strenghten
their confidence in their literacy skills. Every
hearing child is able to play reading a text
which is presented together with a meaningful
picture. No deaf child has any chance to practice
"free writing" as the hearing child
can do. With SW there seems to me the possibility
to reinforce the wish of expressing the ideas
in a written form long before they can express
themselves on the same level in German. But
we can take advantage from this because the
pupils will probably accept their task to learn
the adequate words in German much easier - (hopefully).
Except for one, all of my deaf pupils come from
all hearing families. What we will have to do
in our class is to enlarge our common symbol-system
(distinct signs) as quick as possible. SW may
help to keep a record concerning our improvements.
To help deaf pupils to remember the meaning
of German words I sometimes have to copy sketches
of a signing person into the worksheets. Being
able to use SW instead could be a big reduction
of this time-consuming procedure.
2. What have been some of your past frustrations
The transfer from signing to a written German
text is a very difficult task for most of my
pupils. We have great difficulties to enlarge
our vocabulary in a systematic manner. Without
the knowledge of SW every pupil tries to paint
drafts in order to illustrade the meaning of
new German words. The next day many pupils have
great difficulties to remember the meaning of
his "product of arts." Another aspect
is that the paintings my pupils try to add to
new German words don't help them to memorize
how to sign these words.
3. Are you hoping that SignWriting might
help? If so, in what way?
I hope SignWriting will help to assist my efforts
regarding the issues I mentioned above. I'd
love to set up a bilingual dictionary German
- DGS. This way we hopefully can enlarge systematically
the vocabulary in both systems.
4. How would you like to use your web page?
I would like to use the web page as a place
to share our classroom -experiences with other
colleagues and interested people in the world.
Probably we can post photos and probes of our
materials. In addition to that I would like
to share my moments of doubts or difficulties
in order to get support and feed-back from other
colleagues who might be familiar with these
kinds of problems.
5. Please write any additional information
you would like to share.
I am fascinated by this new working-tool. When
I talked to my pupils - now 7th grade - about
this development and perspective - they were
eager to learn more about that. So all of us
are highly motivated. One problem might be that
I'm right now beginning to understand the foundations
of SW. To learn together with my little friends
might be a very enriching new pedagogical experience.
I'm very interested to get in contact with other
teachers for the Deaf. I need your advice and
support - especially in the beginning. Most
of the parents and colleagues to whom I talked
about this new tool are very openminded and
demonstrate great interest in this project.
I think that our project gets as much support
as I can ask for .- I'm very happy about that,
because we've still got to walk a long way to
the complete acceptance of a bilingual/bicultural
education for deaf pupils in Germany.
Thank you so much for considering us for your
literacy project. Special thanks for your benevolent
support which is so neccessary for us to get
Teacher of Deaf Children