This also got me thinking about technology in general. I've now added a web-cam online tutoring service for ASL students needing private lessons.
As the years passes by, I see more and more materials to teach ASL - a lot are great such as www.ASLpro.com and similar sites.
Unfortunately, these media will never replace a live Deaf person signing with an ASL student. For one thing, majority of hearing ASL students and even deaf or hard of hearing students wanting to learn ASL do not have the chance to fully immerse in a Deaf community. I fluently learned sign language in three months in MSSD, yet I was still not proficient in ASL yet due to not understanding the difference between contact language (used to be called PSE) and ASL. It was not until I was in Gallaudet University that I finally got my Deaf peers fluent in ASL to critic my errors on daily basis. Think of it like an ASL boot camp. I am forever grateful for their help all those years ago.
It wasn't until I was alone in a new state after living all over east coast - in Oregon, I was immersed in a totally familiar yet foreign hearing world that I began to truly appreciate ASL. Everyday I began to feel something was dying inside me and it was not until then I realized what was missing -- American Sign Language and Deaf friends. Thanks for Dino, a Deaf ASL teacher noticed I had a knack for teaching but I didn't believe him that I could teach ASL without any formal training. He said it didn't matter, you have patience, and that is what most needed. Go out and teach ASL, I know you can do it. Thank you, Dino, for setting me on this adventurous path.
Many years, I noticed patterns in frustrated ASL students --- there are a lot of missing crucial gaps in videos that is paired with workbooks and they're usually very boring to watch and there's no interaction. A student cannot stop the video and pull the signer out of a screen and ask question for clarifications at the drop of a hat. Often times ASL teachers are too busy, too tired, or uninterested in spending extra time after class to go over all the questions a lot of ASL students want to know. Many students are too shy or sometimes forget to ask during a class. Sometimes some student forgot a lot of the lectures after 3 1/2 hours and so important details are missing. Also, ASL tutoring is not just about teaching knowledge, it's also a support system, putting tiny crucial information that suddenly gets the light bulbs shining brightly again.
This is where I come in and fill in all the little missing gaps to get the brain clicking again.
I've learned over the years there's a lot of misconceptions from untrained deaf people who attempt tutoring ASL students - which ended up confusing them - teaching outdated facts or invent rules that isn't in the textbooks or being unaware of student's learning styles and worse of all, intimidating a student with impatience or arrogant attitude - thus either turning off or shutting down a student's learning progress.
I have actually witnessed some people who tried to tutor other beginner's students by impatiently rushing through a lesson or scolding or even yelling at them. I was astounded. This is unethical --- and this is why after years and years of volunteer work, experiments with different tools and studying from all angles, I've mastered ways to overcome common and uncommon hurdles.
So, what the media offers in the DVDs, online or printed books, etc - cannot provide the much needed guidance from a well trained ASL Master Tutor who can show students the short cuts or expand in certain areas that will make the entire semester's
worth of puzzle pieces into one clear concept and this also applies to Deaf Culture norms. Plus it's a whole lot more fun to actually interact with a real Deaf person instead of a one dimensional videotape.
I think like a student and therefore I know what and how students need to move forward.
I wish I could fly all over the states to offer in person private tutoring lessons for ASL students, but since that's impossible for me due to limited time, sensitive health (Hashimoto's Disease & hypothyroidism) -- I now offer web-cam tutoring for those who need extra help. Take advantage of what's available. If you need to talk to some of my ASL students who has been tutoring with me for a few years through a web-cam, I'd be more than happy to refer you to them.
Keep up the great job you're all doing to learn ASL!
The Deaf community appreciates it!