Intermediate Conversational Sign Language
In 1960, when Dr. William C. Stokoe’s Sign Language Structure: An Outline of the Visual Communication System of the American Deaf was published, people in the embryonic Sign Language field were just starting to seriously and systematically analyze what makes Sign Language tick. In recent years, Sign Language teaching has begun to emphasize utilization of second language teaching methodology, techniques, and technology as well as newly gleaned linguistic discoveries that pertain to Sign Language. But there is sometimes a problem of translating this information into manageable instruction in the classroom.
Many Sign Language books are written in a more-or-less traditional format. They primarily present lists of English words and lists of signs. This traditional format has its place and value. But there is more to the teaching and learning of Sign Language than vocabulary, and many of these texts are not broad enough. Intermediate Conversational Sign Language: American Sign Language with English Translations by Willard J. Madsen is indeed a welcome addition to the field of Sign Language teaching. This new book allows students to systematically analyze the mysteries of Sign production and grammar and learn signs in manageable chunks. For teachers, it presents an approach to systematic instruction that can be adapted for use on several Sign Language training levels.
The book should also be useful to Sign Language students and teachers interested in exploring new methods of learning and teaching the language of Sign.
Besides illustrating individual signs and signed sentences quite clearly, the author uses a unique system for writing signs with words and symbols. It takes into consideration a number of major elements of the linguistic terminology pertaining to Sign Language and presents the essential information about sign production and grammar in a straightforward, not-too-technical manner.
The technical terms that are introduced in the book are both useful and well-explained. The terms are necessary if teachers and students alike are to share a clear, concise, objective way of discussing language.
Teachers and students will also find that the terms and definitions in this book will help them understand the ever-increasing number of linguistically oriented books and articles relevant to Sign Language.
The illustrator, Lois Lehman, has also made her mark in her attention to details of Sign production: shift in body posture for a clearer view of the sign being formed instead of the traditional frontal illustrations; additional circled or boxed illustrations showing the sequences of movements instead of relying entirely on directional arrows.
The artist also purposely attended to detailed expressions on the face with sharp attention being given to the forehead, eyebrows, eyes, nose, lips, and mouth. This, in itself, is no easy task for any artist rendering Sign Language into illustrations.
Examples of how signs are used in sentences are worked out as completely as possible to show the intermediate signer each step of the sign formation. The author has made it easy for the reader to follow, in some detail, novel concepts and signing procedures.
Readers will find this book well-organized and well-written, useful either as a resource handbook or as a text in courses in Sign Language.
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|February 14, 2017|
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