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

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

How to improve receptive fingerspelling ability

In a message dated 10/5/2008 5:51:54 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time, an ASL student writes:
Dear Dr. Bill,
I am taking an ASL 2 class.
I am concerned because I generally understand signing, but for whatever reason I have a difficult time when someone is finger spelling to me. A lot of the time when someone is finger spelling to me I cannot link the letters together because some people sign words differently or inaccurately. My teacher has probably noticed a confused look on my face on more than one occasion. I have spent quite a bit of time on your web site and I have been practicing with the fingerspelling quizzes and they seem to help.
Do you have any other suggestions?
Thank you!
-Carly _________

Dear Carly,
Here are some links for you: Fingerspelling explanation Fingerspelling Quizzes Fingerspelling Wallpaper: ABC's Font Download
You indicate you've been using my fingerspelling quizzes. Does that include the website?

My suggestions are:
* Download and install one of the fingerspelling wallpapers onto your desktop or laptop computer.
* Download and install the fingerspelling font.
If you ever have to read online material for any of your classes, I encourage you to copy and paste that material into a word processing document and change the font to the Gallaudet fingerspelling font. Increase the font size until you can read it easily. Then read the material as fingerspelling.
* If you need to create flash cards for some other class, use the fingerspelling font to create the flash cards and study from them. That way you will get the benefit of improving your receptive fingerspelling skills as well as studying for your other classes.
* Teach a friend how to fingerspell and then go on a "fingerspelling date." During that date ONLYcommunicate with each other by fingerspelling.
If you've got a few extra bucks, go here: and buy the download version of my "Fingerseek" manual then print some fingerseeks and do them for practice.
* Constantly fingerspell whenever and wherever you are able. Fingerspell your thoughts as you walk from class to class. Fingerspell between bites of food. Fingerspell as you rinse off in the shower. Fingerspell your prayers before going to bed. Fingerspell labels on food items while you shop.
* Most importantly, since you are a Hearing person, make sure you develop the ability to spell words while sounding them out as they would be pronounced in English. Then when you are reading fingerspelling strive to sound out the letters as you read them. Instead of trying to "name" the letters one by one, instead you can pronounce them in your mind and then let your brain "hear" the sounds of the letters and recognize the word that it "heard."
Dr. Bill