Subject: A teacher's experiences....
To: SignWriting List
From: Stefan Woerhmann
October 6, 1999
Dear SignWriting List:
Woehrmann, in Germany, is teaching SignWriting
to his young Deaf students. All the quotes below
are from Stefan Woehrmann:
"One of my Deaf students, Irina, was so happy
this morning. I explained the basic handshapes
- when we came to the gap - palm parallel to the
floor - I accidently made a mistake - all of a
sudden she contacted my elbow with her pencil
pointing at my mistake. This is something we will
never forget. We realized that we are learning
"The first time my little students - three
weeks at school now....went to the blackboard
where I wrote several SW - signs (car, Mama, Frau).
They wrote the German words in big letters underneath.
You know what I´m talking about? Without
any effort at all they accepted that they have
to be sure to interpret these signs into the German
language as well. The timetable is becoming more
and more complex - filled with SW symbols - "Good
morning" - "today is Wednesday",
"first lesson", "Mr Woehrmann"
.. and all the other teachers names (hopefully
written correctly in SW)"
"I don´t know how to tell you clearly
what is going on with me, with us. My family and
my students realize that "something is happening".
My biggest concern at the moment is that I don´t
want to get them into trouble by presenting or
teaching wrong SW-symbols."
"Can´t tell you how exciting things
are turning out to be....When little Irina entered
the classroom - she went straight to the blackboard
and wrote ( really !!!!) "Good morning "
in SW in "b i g" signs. I wasn´t
sure how to write it correctly - and then the
whole class (all my little friends) took a seat
on the floor and I showed some pictures from your
SW materials to them. So now we know the difference
between flat hand, open fist, closed fist, palm
facing towards myself, receptive view - You were
right - little Irina - coming from a deaf family
- loves to learn and write SW as much as I hadn´t
"It´s a hard job to look for all single
symbols I can get in order to figure out how I
can adapt them to our DGS - sometimes I´ve
got to change only a little bit. This afternoon
I spent several hours writing lots of cards with
SW hands symbols. Step by step --"
"Your ideas are working. I feel the spirit
that´s growing in our learning groups .
My students can´t wait to see the second
video. The first video took two school hours.
And - believe it or not - my students seventh
grade got big, big smiles on their faces when
they happened to identify the one or other SW
symbol I simply wrote on the blackboard."
"My little students love to write the signs
at the blackboard. I'm writing a timetable with
more and more SW-symbols. Later on I`ll show that
to you. You may post that into our website! I´ll
let you know all I learn from my little friends.
I´m taking photos during lessons so you
will get soon the first impressions. It´s
simply very fascinating, how quickly they understand
what you had in mind when you developed this system."
I teach and show to my students the difference
of light and black signs - they have to produce
"dark" parts with white chalk at the
blackboard! Next week I´m going to change
that. I´m going to buy a real block of paper
on which we really can draft black on white. This
problem I never thought about before..."
Teacher of Deaf Children