October 31, 2021: Learning Project Update # 3

Like I mentioned in my previous post, I wanted to mainly focus on my ASL skills, creating a Wakelet with my resources, and continue to watch Deaf U and listening to Seen and Not Heard. I was also hoping to show a little more learning retention by practicing the skills I’ve already learned, such as the alphabet and numbers to 20… Does she still got it? Keep reading to find out!

Where We Started…

  • Bill Vicars ASL 1 lessons (aiming for Lesson 2 and maybe 3)
  • Continue to explore ASL Connect for ASL Basics
  • Keep listening to Seen and Not Heard
  • Keep watching Deaf U
  • Begin creating a Wakelet with my resources
  • If I have time: Explore Handspeak and Signing Savvy

Where We Ended Up…

Does She Still Got It?

When learning a new language, practice and repetition is key in order to make it stick. Part of what I wanted to work on for this next update was reviewing what I’ve learned and to film these updates to keep me accountable. For the most part, I remembered the alphabet and my numbers to 20 pretty well, but before I recorded myself, I still needed to do some mirror practice. Even then, I stumbled trying to remember when I was recording. However, I am proud to say that this time, I only needed to do one take when filming and that I still remember!

Since I really liked the ASL Connect resource and their basic vocabulary lessons, I wanted to supplement my other lessons with these. This week I wanted to learn different places, which was more difficult than learning my numbers to 20! The movements for these words are more complex and take close watching. The person in the video was so fast, making it difficult for me to catch the details in the words being signed. I’ve heard some people mention the term, “Deaf speed.” I wasn’t sure what that looked like at first, but it basically means being able to sign very quickly and fluently. The person in the video could fingerspell the word, “station” so fast that the first few times I watched this video, I thought it was one sign to itself! As a result, I decided it was time to dive into the Handspeak resource that was recommended to help break down these signs. I found this quite helpful as it was slower and easier to follow along. However, like Alyssa mentioned, ASL can have many different signs for one word or the same sign can be used for something else. I found that Handspeak and the ASL Connect video mostly aligned, but there were also words that were not signed exactly the same. In this case, I decided to go with what Handspeak did, as these words were easier to see. However, when possible, I tried to stick as closely as I could to the ASL Connect resource for consistency. In the ASL Connect video about 20 different places were signed, so I set a goal of learning 5-6 new words a day and filming my progress throughout the week. Each time I filmed a new set of words, I also repeated what I previously learned… So. Much. Repetition. Check it out to see for yourself!

Bill Vicars Lessons: 2 & 3

Lesson 2
Lesson 3

When I was looking for a GIF to insert into my blog post, I was looking for something that encapsulated project-based learning and inquiry… “Work in progress” was very fitting! Although I am learning lots, mistakes are inevitable. I’ve been looking back at some of my progress videos and I keep catching mistakes that I’ve been making throughout my process. However, it excites me that I am catching mistakes in my hand movements and facial grammar because that means I’m improving on my ASL. I was watching a video that popped up on my Facebook that had two Deaf teens and their grandmother. The two teens were signing and speaking in the video. At the the end, they signed, “thank you” and I knew what it was without being told or needing closed captioning! Although this is a small victory and one word out of an entire conversation, I consider it a step in the right direction!

Over the past two weeks, I’ve gone through Lessons 2 and 3 from Bill Vicars. After a few lessons, I’m starting to notice a pattern in the structure of how he teaches. Each section in his video starts with basic vocabulary, he signs a phrase/sentence to the student and they answer, and then they switch roles. I appreciate that the videos are structured around conversation dialogue and the topics explored are things people typically talk about, such as family, names, places, etc. I had just finished the lesson on places from ASL Connect, so some of the words I already knew in these lessons. The main challenge I’ve encountered with Bill Vicars’ lessons is that there is either very little or no closed captioning, although there was closed captioning in the first lesson I did. In my previous post, I mentioned that I would pause the video, practice, make notes, and resume watching. Although this takes longer, it helps me retain what I’m learning. However, without the closed captioning, it takes even longer because I’m having to figure out what is being said and really pay attention to the signing. Plus, it moves so quickly! Usually I can figure it out, but I need to slow things down. To be honest, I would even venture to say it’s a little exhausting. However, this is a very small glimpse into what it is like for anyone learning a new language. Again, I used Handspeak when I needed clarification if the signs were moving too quickly. Thank goodness for that resource to support my learning! My experiences in learning ASL has reinforced that learning needs to be a multi-modal experience. I always thought of myself as a visual learner, but this process has shown me that I also heavily depend on that auditory piece… Possibly just as much as the visual!

Handspeak & Signing Savvy

These have been total lifesavers for my lessons with Bill Vicars and ASL Connect. The following is a little information on each resource.

Handspeak: This website is an ASL dictionary and so much more! You are able to search up words, select the word with the meaning you’re looking for, and a short demonstration video comes up. They also have a word of the day. Of course, today it’s Halloween! A feature that I thought was helpful was the reverse dictionary. Instead of typing a word in for the sign, you click on the descriptions of the sign to get the word. The website did explain that this is a pilot project and its development is ongoing. Handspeak also has word lists of the most common signs used. This page on the website also lists some important aspects to keep in mind when learning ASL. Alyssa stressed that signs can look the same, but have a completely different meaning elsewhere and ASL varies based on context and location. I appreciated that Handspeak made note of this, as it is important to bear this in mind when using ASL in different places. In addition to an adult dictionary, this resource also includes a signing dictionary for kids, with kids doing the signing. I have mainly been using this website as a word dictionary to support my lessons, but it also has tons of information in the Learn ASL tab on Deaf culture, Deaf Art, ASL myths and facts, etc. I had no idea until I started diving into this resource a little more over the past few days. With that being said, I would like to spend more time doing some reading on this website and not just using it as a dictionary.

Signing Savvy: Truthfully, I relied mainly on Handspeak to support my lessons, but Signing Savvy is also a great resource. After taking a more in-depth look at this website, it has a lot to offer. In terms of its signing dictionary, it includes the ASL 1, 2, and 3 levels and the fingerspelling options for each word. A minor inconvenience with the dictionary is that it has advertisements before each video. I also don’t have an ad blocker, so that could also be the issue. Like Handspeak, Signing Savvy also includes wordlists. They have wordlists for continents, animals, family members, etc. Plus, these are also available in the form of flashcards too. Some wordlists and flashcards are only available to paying members, however, there are a lot of free resources available as well. Lastly, this resource provides tons of articles, lots of which touch on topic such as Deaf culture, biographies of successful Deaf individuals, and other information regarding signing.

Seen and Not Heard & Deaf U

Seen and Not Heard: Episode 6 begins with the sounds that Bet would hear in a phone conversation. She explains that her mother insists on calling her, rather than texting. Bet notes that she has made it clear to her mom that texting works better for her, but her mother feels texting is impersonal. David shows up at Bet’s apartment because he was in the neighbourhood. They end up going on a walk to grab a coffee. During Bet’s conversation with David, we learn that she used to be in culinary school, but quit after she began to lose her hearing. She didn’t feel it was a practical career choice, as you need to be able to hear what people are telling you in a busy, chaotic kitchen environment. Bet explains that there are restaurants where the staff is all Deaf and everyone places their orders in sign. However, Bet explains that she opted out of this option because she doesn’t know how to sign. At her family’s Rosh Hashanah gathering, Bet discusses the awkward supper from a few weeks ago with her sister. Sarah explains that their mom is just anxious and that Bet needs to let things go. Bet also explains that she had never asked her dad how he felt about her hearing loss, while on the other hand her mother makes it very clear how she feels about it. The guests eventually arrive for the Rosh Hashanah celebration. Bet is disheartened that she finds it so hard to keep up with the flow of conversation… It was hard enough at a small family supper in a restaurant. She wishes that people would take turns when they spoke and listened to each other. When Bet was getting coffee with David earlier in the episode, he made a joke about Bet being Deaf and immediately felt guilty. To his surprise, she laughs and explains that she has such few opportunities to joke about it. I think Bet finds it frustrating that her family has been so resistant to addressing her hearing loss and has found some relief in being able to discuss it candidly.

Deaf U: One of the characters, DQ, explains that some people who are part of the Deaf community don’t like him because he doesn’t sign all of the time. He explains that he is new to learning ASL and that before he came to Gallaudet University, he only spoke. Rodney is in a similar situation and explains that he will speak when he wants and sign when he wants, as he isn’t concerned with what others think about how he communicates. Something I found interesting was that mouthing while signing is quite taboo, according to the information in this episode. Cheyenna has a YouTube channel and made a video where she mouths what she is signing to her audience, as some of her viewers are hearing. Her friend, Cameron, encourages her to stop mouthing the words, but she refuses. Furthermore, she explains that coming to Gallaudet was culture shock for her because she was mainstreamed her entire life. It was challenging because everyone signs really fast and uses strong facial expressions, which she was not used to seeing or doing herself. Her video was heavily critiqued by her Deaf peers, except one student mentioned that she liked the video. Furthermore, she highlights that a lot of her Deaf friends stick closely to their Deaf bubble. She also notes that they can be so quick to judge.

Being a hearing person, there are so many things I don’t realize in daily interactions that are not Deaf-friendly. For example, a group of students went to a restaurant and they needed to re-arrange the seating so everyone could see each other. In addition, when they ordered, they all typed what they wanted on their phones to show their server. In addition, Renate and her girlfriend went to get their nails done at a salon. Typically, this involves chatting during the appointment, but they could not chat easily because they were not able to use their hands! This episode also touched on what sign names are and how people obtain them. Instead of fingerspelling your entire name, a sign is created for you that represents your personality traits or something you’re known for. An example of this is one student’s mother gave her a sign name when she was little that involves touching her nose because her nose was always red when she was younger. Something I appreciate about the show is that it also represents the LGBTQ+ community. Renate and her girlfriend explain their family’s disapproval of their relationship and how they plan to tackle this together.

Wakelet Progress

I’m currently in the process of creating my own Wakelet to compile the resources shared with me so far. If I’ve mentioned any resources that have piqued your interest, feel free to access this Wakelet anytime you like! It is not completed, as I will continue to explore different resources and add them throughout the remainder of my project. Also, if you’re an experienced user of Wakelet, please feel free to give me any feedback regarding how I’ve set this up or if you have any general advice/tips to offer! For now, here are some of my highlights…

Where We Are Heading…

I feel like I stayed pretty on track over the past two weeks and scaling down my goals was very helpful! For my next blog post, I plan on tackling the following:

  • Continue with my ASL 1 lessons (Lesson 4 and maybe 5)
  • Keep up with Deaf U and Seen and Not Heard shows
  • Continue to explore ASL Connect… I’m thinking of learning how to sign different outdoor activities and the person doing the signing in the tutorial video is Cameron from Deaf U!
  • Continue building my Wakelet resource hub
  • I’ve started following some Deaf influencers on social media and some other educational accounts… I’d like to spend some time exploring these as well!

I may even start trying to sign a song chorus or part of a children’s book… However, in the spirit of balance, that might be another goal for another week!

Thanks for making it this far!

Until next time,


5 thoughts on “October 31, 2021: Learning Project Update # 3

  1. Wow Leigh! You are learning so much. I don’t doubt for a second that trying to decipher what is being said and internalize it would be exhausting. You are making it very clear how much effort goes into learning a language and how there are so many pragmatic pieces to be considered if one is to master a new language. It is amazing how there can be so many variations, or am I wrong in saying dialects(?), within one language, including this one!
    I had once heard that it can be considered taboo to mouth words while signing as well. The concept of facial grammar is very interesting though. I look forward to hearing more about this and what it means to apply it to different vocabulary or conversation. You are clearly learning so much and doing an excellent job of documenting it! Thank you for sharing your challenging journey!


    1. Gillian,

      Thanks so much for your comment! Yes, dialects is the right word! There can be more than one sign for a word, which makes it tricky. However, I am amazed by the resources available to learn ASL that are Deaf created and easy to use!


  2. Leigh! It is so evident that you are learning so much. This learning project may be such an asset in your classroom one day, and in your everyday life. I am amazed by the bank of resources that you have created and all of the time you have put into learning. This is great! Something that I have bookmarked to come back to one day.


  3. Thanks for the comment, Kelly!

    Yay! I’m so glad you’re finding pieces of my project helpful! In a sense, that was kind of my ultimate goal!


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