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American Sign Language as a Bridge to English

American Sign Language as a Bridge to English

Автором Vicky A. Allen, M.Ed.

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American Sign Language as a Bridge to English

Автором Vicky A. Allen, M.Ed.

340 pages
1 hour
May 7, 2020


American Sign Language as a Bridge to English is a unique guide for HEARING teachers of HEARING students to use ASL as a 'bridge' to learn English as a foreign language. This ebook version makes it a convenient way to always have the signs with you on your phone or tablet. The book contains over 250 signs to be used in the classroom, each with a simple illustration and description. By clicking on the word in the Index by alphabet, finding the word signs is simplified. Along with the signs, there are also 'snippets' of information that teachers will find helpful. These provide the teacher with information about signing, deaf culture, and other helpful resources.


The distinctiveness of this book is that it teaches the handshapes of ASL prior to learning the ABC's. By introducing the handshapes first, not the alphabet, a teacher who is learning to sign for the first time will have a better opportunity to teach the signs correctly to her students without needing to be fluent in ASL. The kinesthetic addition of ASL will help students more readily recall the English word by putting 'ever-present' flashcards in their hands. Since many of the handshapes represent letters of the alphabet, students will soon be fingerspelling their names without formally learning the ABCs.


NOTE: This book is not attempting to teach the language of American Sign Language but to use ASL as a tactile aid to recall the English word. But, in saying this, some students and teachers, hopefully, will be motivated to continue to learn American Sign Language as a subsequent foreign language.

May 7, 2020

Об авторе

After more than 25 years of experience as an educator for the deaf, Vicky Allen discovered the benefits of integrating American Sign Language (ASL) with teaching English as a Second/Foreign Language (ESL/EFL). In American Sign Language as a Bridge to English, Vicky shares her successful teaching methods for hearing teachers and students in the EFL classroom. Vicky received a master’s degree in Deaf Education in the mid 1970s. Her course work included learning the language of ASL and thus began her life’s work. While teaching beginning ASL at the college level in the early 2000s, Vicky was required to teach fingerspelling and handshapes during the third semester. It was then that she realized teaching handshapes during the first semester would give her students an advantage in learning the signs and producing them more accurately. When Vicky accepted a teaching position in the Persian Gulf region in 2010 to teach English as a Foreign Language, she saw the value of integrating ASL in the ESL/EFL classroom. In 2012, she presented her idea at an international conference and since then has facilitated informative workshops in several other venues, seeing increased interest in ASL inclusion of teaching ESL/EFL. Teachers and students, excited about their successes, encouraged Vicky to document her work. Vicky’s book, American Sign Language as a Bridge to English, is a must for every educator’s library.

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American Sign Language as a Bridge to English - Vicky A. Allen, M.Ed.




After receiving my master's degree in Deaf Education from Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon, in the mid-1970s, I began teaching in the high school department at the Oregon State School for the Deaf (OSSD) in Salem, Oregon.


During my second year of teaching, I gave birth to my first child, Stephanie. When she began trying to express herself, of course, I couldn't understand. I tried everything and, many times, still was not able to figure out what she wanted to tell me. In my frustration, I decided to experiment with American Sign Language (ASL), and to my surprise, it worked! She absorbed it like a ‘sponge’! ASL opened up a whole new world of communication for us! My students were as excited as I was and even gave Stephanie her very own name sign, which is customary in deaf culture.


Nine years later, I used ASL again with my second daughter, Melanie. When she was four, I underwent jaw surgery and was not able to use my voice for a while; Melanie knew my signs and was able to communicate with me in order to understand what I needed!


Eight years after that, I introduced ASL to my son, Nelse Matthew, whose initial fascination with ASL was being able to tell me something at a distance through sign! Now, he wishes that he had taken it as a foreign language in high school.


Then, more than 35 years after teaching Stephanie her first signs, she and her husband, Ousmanne, introduced their two toddlers to ASL, giving them three languages: English, French, and ASL. In their preschool classes, teachers were also using some ASL signs with them.


Through my ASL journey, I have taught deaf students at residential schools, mainstreamed programs, and in remote locations. Recently, I was on quite a different adventure - teaching English as a Foreign Language (EFL) in the Middle East. I had the opportunity to teach college-aged Arab women, with whom I saw ASL open up not only a new English word but also the concept of that English word.

I have had international opportunities to lead workshops on ASL in the EFL Classroom, teaching educators from different parts of the world. These teachers and my students have been my encouragement to share more about the use of ASL in the ESL/EFL classroom.

As research shows the benefits of using ASL with hearing toddlers, school-aged students, and those with special needs, I have also found that ASL helps bridge a student’s first language with English.

A New Adventure

Since first using ASL with my hearing toddlers and through adapting so much of what I have learned from the deaf community, I have found that ASL can be an effective bridge to teaching English as a second or subsequent language, regardless of the student’s mother tongue. Since ASL is a language that ‘paints a picture’ in the air, it significantly aids in learning new English vocabulary, especially multiple meaning words.

The material in this book will add a new dimension to the teaching of EFL for both teachers and students. I encourage you to try ASL in your classroom as it works for teachers who are either native or non-native speakers of English. This program will invigorate you as you see your students grasping English vocabulary and concepts more readily!

Best of wishes as you embark on your new teaching adventure!  Vicky


AMERICAN SIGN LANGUAGE as a Bridge to English adds a dynamic dimension to the

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