December 2013 Blog
Happy Winter Solstice everyone!
I’m going to share helpful tips for any advanced American Sign Language interpreter, teacher for the Deaf, or anyone who has to prove their proficiency of demonstrating fluent ASL at an evaluation or interview appointment.
I’ve shared these tips with a former ASL student and she found them extremely helpful – just take what helps you the most:
1. Stay calm at all time. This means the minute you walk into the interview/evaluation space – keep your body calm – your mental state quiet and your emotions muted.
Even if inside you're feeling nervous or mentally scattered - pretend you're CALM, neutral and collected and at least people will presume you’re quite collected.
If you can fake this, this will really boost your performance "grade". Most people fail due to being obviously nervous outwardly.
Hide your nervousness, hide your nervous facial expressions and get rid of all the physical nervous body language that can deduct points from the test.
I’ve sailed through many interviews with my at ease calm exterior appearance – it helped that most of the jobs I’ve gotten, I didn’t care if I didn’t get it or not and it probably showed and it was why I got hired a lot of the time. Not saying that we can’t care to get a job – have it in your mind to be at ease during the evaluation.
Once you can get a grip on your nervousness --- the next step is to...
2. Breathe -- Breathe Evenly and Focus:
Seems easy but surprisingly most of us either hold our breaths or hyperventilate when we're starting out. Breathe evenly.
Oxygen gives us mental clarity and cognitive capacity to problem solve.
The fine art of focusing - here most people sway from focusing too hard (trying too hard) and missing the obvious messages due to panicking. Or feeling extremely mentally distracted from many factors such as:
* external noise
* internal monkey chatter (and the critic board)
* feeling emotionally overwhelmed
* feeling tired, hungry, thirsty, ill
* dealing with learning disability and not learning to work with them
There's more, but these are the common issues that arises that can affect people's focus.
Learn to find the right balance for focusing calmly. Fix anything that is distracting you. Hire any professionals that can help you eliminate external “noises” that reduces your work performance.
As simple and obvious these next tips may be - eat right, exercise enough, and get sufficient sleep.
3. Interpret (or sign) everything you do know and let go the rest.
Whether you’re ready or not – have studied or not - all you can do now is just do your best and keep up interpreting or answering questions in fluent ASL to your best ability.
The more you relax and taken in the entire picture – as the tensed nervousness wears away - slowly by slowly, inch by inch, you will gain more clarity of the expressed ASL concepts; Deaf idioms; ASL sentence types; finger talking; NMS; ASL classifiers, etc.
Be honest, and if they allow, ask for repetition. For ASL VRI, being an assertive interpreter is a confident interpreter. ASL evaluator deducts points if you are too timid or too prideful or too embarrassed to ask for repeats. Usually evaluators allows up to 2 chances to repeat a finger talked word or a statement or question.
4. Be realistic of how much you can master all the areas that you need to be fluent in.
Study at least 6 hours a day with periodic breaks. If you’re weak in receptive skills- do everything in your power to brush up those skills. (This often requires hiring a professional ASL tutor/mentor to develop your fine motor skills to get used to the speed, pace, dimension and style of reading expressed ASL or finger talking words).
If you’re struggling in expressive signs – find anyone who is more skilled than you are and practice conversing until you’re fluent. Avoid halting; avoid “sign-stuttering”; avoid signing too big or outside of the camcorder’s lens frame; avoid being too chatty and going all over the place; avoid being too serious and frowning throughout the entire interview.
Be really honest with yourself of what you can accomplish – I prefer ASL students to already be high-advanced to superior skilled in American Sign Language (both receptive and expressive and with finger talking skills) first and THEN take the interview/evaluation. Work with an ASL Mentor for at least a good solid 6 months if you’re out of practice or haven’t had formal ITP training or forgotten the rules and need to role play (rehearse) beforehand. The more you’re prepared, the less stress you’ll juggle with of different demanding expectations that they have of you.
5. Read a website called The Interpreter's Alley:
With their new article titled: THE NEW NIC INTERVIEW
6. Be aware of the newest titling they apply to ASL interpreters:
7. Wade through my ASL Resource Page which has TONS of resourceful ASL educational materials for you to study from. I compiled all these for the ease of saving students' time and energy of finding information they need. Take advantage of it.
Best wishes in your evaluation or interview! If you need help – feel free to email me for an appointment. My schedule may be tight as I get few months of booked appointments – so if you have some time slot between Mondays to Thursdays, 10am to 6pm MST – email me now.
Fun tidbits I want to share with you all:
Walk for ASL video -
A damn funny interpreter’s visual compilation of common tendencies with new ASL students struggling to learn ASL – it’s soooo hilarious!
This dude from TED shares a lot of similar philosophy I have when it comes to learning foreign languages in general – he managed to learn sign language!
For hearing folks who are just curious of what deafness may sound like – check this video out:
Lastly here is a video of Various ASL signers -notice the regional signs, signing styles, older signs still being used and NMS, and ASL grammatical use:
Have a Happy New Year everyone! May the new year of 2014 be filled with blessings. Thank you everyone for the opportunity to work, play, experiment, laugh, problem-solve and enjoy our ASL sessions together. It’s been a real pleasure!
RaVen Sequoia – ASL Master Mentor