Here’s something I’m very excited about! As many of you know I’m always on the look out for the next “magic bullet”, the next technique or method that will make as much a difference to our teaching as the songs and games already have. Well, I think we may have found it….
The uber talented Val from Daddy Ross Preschool in Argentina has sent in this report and video which could very well be a game changer in how we use Genki English. It’s using ASL, American Sign Language, but for me at least this is the first time it has really clicked just how amazing it can be. Check out the video, then I’ll let Val explain in her own words….
Hi. My name is Val, I am the mind behind the activities and videos of Daddy Ross Preschool (YouTube) but most of all I am a teaching methods creator.
I made an experiment in two of my eel classes about the amazing benefits of using ASL in ESL.
The best teachers know that: English without GESTURES is like a lamp without light. Right?
Yes, gestures are the key to learning the vocabulary for good.
I noticed in my teaching activities that sometimes I found myself struggling to find the best gesture for new vocabulary or commands.
And when I was doing some reading about teaching ASL to hearing babies, I realized how descriptive those signs were! Almost the same kind of gestures I have been using in my ESL classes.
So, I decided to make a little fun experiment and see if there are any changes in the learning process by using ASL in my ESL classes.
Having 2 ESL groups with almost the same characteristics (like age, routines learned, level of English, same themes studied and positive attitude to learn) I was attempting to do a little experiment:
BOTH ESL HEARING STUDENTS WILL BE EXPOSED TO THE SAME NEW THEME, THEY NEVER SAW BEFORE, I PICKED I LIKE VEGETABLES.
BUT ONLY ONE OF THEM WILL BE EXPOSED TO ASL. THE OTHER GROUP WILL CONTINUE LEARNING THROUGH GESTURES AS WE ALWAYS DID.
THE RESULTS WERE OVERWHELMING ALMOST IMMEDIATELY AFTER I BEGAN THE CLASS!
The difference in the speed and quality of learning between the 2 groups was highly marked!
The groups who used ASL were more focused, relaxed, comfortable, and active in class from beginning to end.
They learned faster and took advantage of that by doing 3 times more games or activities in the first class because they all have the vocabulary and their meaning inside their mind, and when they couldn’t remember, they started to use the signs by themselves to help remember the new words learned as if they had an ORAL INSTANT FLASH CARD build in INSIDE THEM.
They showed high self esteem in their English skills, because they could learn a whole lesson in a matter of minutes and also learn a new way to express themselves through ASL. (They loved to show off all of this to their family)
They participated more!
They talked so much more too!
Their learning process could be compared to a ROCKET!
Otherwise the other group who use the gestures I created for them and not ASL, their learning process could be compared to a plain old car or a fast bike. They showed the normal struggling and confusion while ESL students learned new vocabulary, even though they tried with such a great positive attitude, they couldn’t assimilate all the words, so they couldn’t follow the song, or do a decent game session in the same amount of time the other group did 3 times more.
WHY this HUGE difference if they are both gestures after all?
– ASL is clear, easy and descriptive in signing the word that is expressed.
– They learn ASL attached to the new English word.
So the sign is only related to the English word and NOT to the word in native language.
– They learn the sign language first because it is fun to do and easy and the sign DRAGS along the English world almost automatically.
-By themselves they started using the ASL as an Oral Instant Flash Card. Can you imagine putting a dictionary in your students brains? This act almost likes that! LOL
All this is the main reason WHY using ASL IN HEARING ESL students makes them learn FASTER and in a relaxed and positive atmosphere.
If your student could learn easier and move directly to games or activities, it is natural that will develop a hunger to learn MORE and more!
I am not an ASL teacher. I just taught myself the words or commands I would need for a theme.
There are so many wonderful sites on the internet to get yourself acquainted with ASL.
As a teacher I realized by using ASL in my hearing ESL students that I could have the perfect sign for each word or command from the experts! Even though those words were very difficult to find a gesture in flashcards, like Zoo, Farm, Vegetables, family members, or colors.
Now I am able to help my students in their language acquisition right on the spot! Without having to look for flash cards, point to far away posters or act out like crazy! I just repeat the word they don’t know what it means with the sign. And they get it.
ASL make the more shy students also participate!
My kids also understood that the ASL signs belongs to a word with a meaning and not to a fancy choreography of one song.
And not to mention the happiness I see them learning ASL with so much respect for people who cant hear us!
After all learning a language is not about learning it for itself!
It is to express yourself to each other!
To open new path of adventures!
See you soon!
Pretty cool eh? To be fair the vegetables theme is probably the perfect one to choose here as it’s very difficult to come up with normal gestures. And for example the Superhero gestures are a big part of the song. But did you see the difference in the kids? Amazing. This will also help with one of the biggest problems with GE which is what to do in the chorus of songs that don’t have obvious gestures. Well, ASL!
I have had teachers saying we shouldn’t teach two sets of sign language, e.g. if they are already learning Japanese sign language. But as Val points out, the link is between the English and the sign, so this should be no problem. And I guess ASL is a better choice in the big picture than the British version!
Anyway, I hope you are as excited as we are about this and let’s discuss it in the comments. If everyone is on board I think we can start making new videos and things to get ASL signs for all the themes! Cool!