The official blog of Safari Bill (Dr. William Vicars)-- Lexicographer, protologism developer, enchiridion author, ASL evangelist, and immersion excursion guide.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Can you become fluent at ASL by studying online?

Someone recently asked me if it was possible to actually become fluent by just studying online.

In the past I would have said, "Well, you probably can't become fluent without taking actual classes and hanging out with Deaf for many months."

But that was before vlogs and youtube.
These days you can learn enough basic signs from a site like to bootstrap yourself up to basic levels of understanding. Then suppose you were to spend your time watching Deaf vlogs for a few hundred hours? If you started by using captioned vlogs and then branched out from there you could probably get to the point where you could understand basic conversations. After a thousand hours of viewing you might be to the point where you could understand quite a bit of everyday signed communication.
It would be interesting to do an experiment with a prisoner who had access to the net but not to any real live deaf people. Then after several years of watching vlogs give him (or her) a level 5 receptive ASL test.
Any volunteers? Just commit a felony and let me know how it goes.
Dr. Bill