english and asl skills

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Hi! I want to discuss the use of English words in blogs. I use the word that has the right meaning, that fits perfectly, that has a good rhythm in the sentence. I don’t use words to be stuck up or proud or to look at you and laugh you off if you don’t understand. No, no. (Pause).

Why am I signing this here in this vlog? I’m practicing signing. I need to improve, so I practice. Now, last year, I started to read deafread.com. I read all the blogs and learned from each of them. A lot to think about, yes. And I saw all the vlogs…but I didn’t understand signing. Not all vlogs are captioned. I would ask, “What are you saying,” and some people would say “Never mind. Go and learn signing first.” I was like…Okaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyy. But one person said, “I don’t caption my vlogs. Why? I’m not confident in my English.”

I was shocked, I mean absolutely shocked. I would have never thought maybe that person doesn’t know, isn’t confident in his English. New thought for me. I thought about that for a while. OK. I understand that. It’s alright.

…If you’re not confident in your English skills, then practice! I absolutely won’t laugh. Never be ashamed of your English skills…or your signing skills! I’m not ashamed…I just don’t know [signing]…but I learn and I practice. If you’re not confident in your skills, then practice! Write, and put up your blogs…I’ll read them…I’ll learn from them. I’ll understand them. Just never be ashamed. Never. Just practice. We all must practice different things.

I forgot how to say what I wanted to sign…I practice in the shower, thinking and signing..and that comes out better than here! Oh well.

Anyway, I just wanted to say practice…we all practice, we’ll improve together. Right?

See ya later!

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26 Responses to english and asl skills

  1. moxie_mocha says:


    Wow… you’ve learned a lot in four months! Keep it up. I’m proud of you!

    Just two signs I want to tell you to practice are: practice and improve. To sign practice, the non-dominant handshape is one, not the full hand, and the dominant handshape is A. The movement you used is correct. For the sign improve, it’s palm down, not palm up on your non-dominant hand. The movement you used for dominant hand is correct. I hope this makes sense. If you need me to do a short vlog on YouTube, I’ll be happy to do so.

    I hope you don’t mind me helping you out. ๐Ÿ˜€


  2. To be blunt, you are doing GREAT job! I don’t care what pessimists think, I STRONGLY agree with bi linguistic approach underlying philosophy that if you are fluent in one language you have STRONG potential to be fluent in other. The fact that you are in habit of following English’s grammar rules AND understand why they are so almost guarantee your fluency in ASL. How do I know? I am fluent in English, mostly from reading and reading. I once studied English grammar book as an adult all by myself and I sharpened my grammar usage skills because of it. When I first learned ASL from other deaf people, I got basic ideas THEN I got one book titled ASL: The Easy Way and studied it. Yeah, yeah, yeah I know it is possibly full of some errors but at least I got important rules out of it and my ASL fluency apparently got a boost somewhat.

    Basically, in my opinion, if you are in habit of following —>AND

  3. Wowowowowow!!! I certainly wasn’t that good at ASL in my 4th month of ASL practice. (Well, I didn’t have anyone to practice with!!) But you are signing wonderfully and KEEP UP THE AWESOME work! I am so proud of you! Totally impressed here… *hands waving*

  4. MikeS says:

    Good vlog. Good lesson in determination and persistence in improving one craft (ASL or English) despite discrimination or bias from others or self. LOL to the effect of รขโ‚ฌล“I forgot what sign to use for this even thou I practiced in the shower.รขโ‚ฌย ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Mia says:

    Practice take lot of time to learn ASL Sign. The fingerspelling you can learn in one hour or so. ASL is universal meaning that you have to pick lot of sign you want to learn for little while. I envy your english grammar better than mine because i noticed your blogger. My english grammar need practice too. I envy Oscar the Observer too!

  6. Banjo says:

    Moxie Mocha already said it for me.

    Although I must say that you’re doing absolutely a fantastic job for a beginner! I watched your first vlog and this one. I read your blog regularly.

    Myself, I think this blog is one of the best blogs by a deaf individual on the internet because of all the interesting thoughts you’ve shared with us.

  7. deafk says:

    Hi, BEG,

    So, you re one of those deafies who just learn about deaf culture, and sign language through internet, eh? I think it is so cool! It is nice that through the internet, the open eye about deaf culture is reaching you!! Glad you found more about us… Congrats!


  8. Aidan Mack says:

    Hey BEG,

    WOW! I watched you from the beginning to now. You grow so much. I am so proud of you. Keep it up with good work.

    You practice to learn ASL and I practice to learn English writing. I attend tutor two times a week and improve my English writing. I don’t have confident in my English. It is very hard for me to deal with my emotion when I write English. Whenever I try to write English, I do feel I am so stupid. Every time I write English, I have a tiny sign (voice) box in my head telling me my English no good, and failure.. I try my best to overcome it and believe in myself whenever I write. I also work on build my confident in my English writing.

    MIA: What do you mean that ASL is Universal? ASL is not universal. It is America Sign Language. Most Country have their own sign language. Maybe I misunderstand what you mean. Can you please clarify that? Smile…


  9. Aidan Mack says:

    Opps– I forgot to add.. I read lot of books. Reading for me is no problem. It is very easy for me to read anything. But I don’t understand why I am struggling with English Writing. My teachers told me that they don’t understand why I read sooooooo well but I am struggling with writing. I really wanted to know why I am good at reading but not at writing. Anyone know?


  10. Mia,

    I would just like to gently point out that ASL is *not* universal at all. It has it’s own grammar and syntax rules and is a TRUE language developed by Deaf people. If ASL was truly a universal language, then why would other Deaf people from different countries have their own sign languages? Such as Japanese Sign Language, British Sign Language, Italian Sign Language, etc. Each language is different and unique to their cultures, yet we are all Deaf.

    It is a common misconception and MYTH that ASL is universal, when really it is not. For some people, it may take a lot longer than one hour to learn fingerspelling… everyone has their own learning pace and style but when one wants to learn something, they will. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Kate says:

    Ha! Good advice. I always feel ashamed of my sign skills. It takes me a good five minutes of warm-up before I’m able to hold a conversation with any level of confidence. For someone who has only been learning sign for four months, you are incredible. You’re right, never be ashamed and trust that the skills will come to you.

    Aidan – It’s okay. English is your second language. I hope your tutor is experienced working with second-language learners of English. I can’t imagine reading and writing English without ever speaking it, I really can’t. I know a lot of people do, and that’s fantastic. BUT so much changes depending on the context, and the words around it. Like a sentence: “I don’t have confidence in my English.” It can be:
    I don’t have confidence about English.
    I am not confident with my English skills.

    Same meaning. I can’t explain to you why the first one is confidence and the second is confident. It’s just something I know in my gut. THAT is a hard task to master, and you are doing beautifully.

  12. Aidan,

    You are not the only one who can breeze through books and newspapers with ease and yet still have trouble expressing yourself in writing. From my own experience, I can relate to how you feel. For example, I can read and write English without any problems. People tell me I sign well considering I learned ASL at the late age of 17-18 years old. However, my own reception skills aren’t very good when it comes to ASL! I do find myself struggling to understand some signers who are very fluent in ASL and can fingerspell like lightening! I do miss out on some things and have been prone to misunderstanding what some of my deaf friends are saying once in a while. BUT, I am not afraid to ask for repeats and/or clarifications. It’s just that ASL is my second language and I still work on improving my reception skills.

    English is a second language for you and reading it is not a problem because it’s already there for you. You only need to read it to understand it but it is difficult for you to express yourself in writing. Don’t feel stupid for having troubles expressing yourself in English. I am glad you try because you are NOT dumb when in comparison look how wonderfully you sign in ASL on your vlogs!

    Practice practice practice writing and you will be fluent in writing English, too. But don’t forget to keep signing! ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. IamMine says:

    you’re doing just well!

    i understand what you mean, though.

    How can you practice more if you can’t understand what vloggers say? Hmm. For me, I don’t want to write what I say because I don’t really want to know what I said in English! I know that sounds weird…I hate to look at my videos when I’m done. I just plop it in and there you all have it! I’m weird.

    Aidan – I totally understand where you are coming from. I’m the same way!

    I work twice as hard when I write – but reading? No problem either. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Don’t we all wish we could write like deafies like BEG? ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Your english is really good, though, Aidan. ๐Ÿ˜€

    But for others who feel theirs aren’t good – so what? Be confident and the more you write, the more you notice WHY you write that way. *mental note to self: are you even listening?*

    You pick up more when you write and then look back.

    Keep up with the vlogs and this way you get more feedbacks!

  14. egbertpress says:


    I rather read blogs than vlogs.

    But I enjoy watching you and understood everything you said despite of some “mispronunciations”.

    I did a lot of mispronunciations when I started learning ASL too but Deaf people accepted me because I showed desire to communicate, just like you did.

    It is just like learning typing, practice will come to perfection before you know(realize) it.


  15. Janis says:

    Aidan, there are many parts to learning a language: reading it, speaking or writing it, and understanding it when someone else is speaking. You learn all of these parts at different speeds. I’m surprised that your teachers don’t know this.

    For example, I’m studying Welsh right now. I began studying it in 2004. I can speak, read, and write it extremely well, with an excellent accent. But my ears are still very slow. When someone else speaks it, I need to ask them to speak slowly.

    I’m sure you are learning quickly. As long as you keep working, you will improve. Don’t ever give up!

  16. Mia says:

    Aidan and Carrie: Yes, i agreed with you. I was trying to say “Universal” because not that foreign language. I meant Universal has lot of sign language. In my presceptive (wrong spell), excuse me..Universal signs can be many signs could be least 1 million signs. Not only people know, How many signs in ASL??? that what i meant. I know that ASL, Not that Universal but By itself how many we (deaf people) signs, Lots, Tons..I called it “Universal” but i may be wrong! Tell me what another words than Universal so i can learn something better word.

  17. Wow! Thanks all of you for your lovely comments!

    Moxie — thanks for the corrections! I think I was trying to avoid a certain word that’s similar both to the way I did it and the correct way & went a bit overboard to stay away from the one I didn’t want to do by accident. Shoulda looked it up, though ๐Ÿ™‚

    Mike: Yeah, I find I practice signing in the shower — weird or what? Anyway I do my best work in there, I tell you! Masterpieces! And I forget it all when I record what I want to say! Lots of discarded versions, again (and one when I ran out of disk space, arggh!).

    DeafK: Yes, I’m learning *mostly* online. I’ve had a couple opportunities to meet up with local ASL signers, but the bulk of what I’m learning is online. Seems possible…

    Mia: I have a hard time with fingerspelling, actually (doing it) because my hands can be very sore and stiff at times. Who decided that the R had to be two fingers crossed like that? Agh :-). I generally don’t sweat the fingerspelling at the moment. Either I can figure it out from the context or I can go back to it later.

    Banjo: **blush**

    Aidan, IamMine, Kate: Writing *is* difficult. Few people actually write well, deaf or not. I would be patient though, because as Janis also pointed out, people learn reading/writing/hearing/speaking (obviously we can leave the latter two out) all at different rates sometimes. My thought would be to start up a journal and just practice. Don’t review, don’t second guess, but do put down a page per day. Write about just anything, and move on to the next entry. I had an English class in high school where the teacher made us do this for the entire school year. I would literally sometimes just write down song lyrics in order to have the page filled in, but looking back I think that was possibly one of the best things I did regarding writing.

    Kate: the reason it’s confidence versus confident is that the former is a noun. So it’s something you can possess, you can have. Therefore, “I have confidence in…” To be confident is the verb, it’s an action. So, I am confident. English is very weird. I never really learned the parts of grammar in English until I started studying foreign languages and then related that back to English.

    I do think it helps that I know languages besides English already. ASL is my fourth language, really. Someone asked how do I learn from vloggers when I can’t understand them? Well, I have a couple of approaches. First of all, if anyone captions their vlog, I’m all over it as a new lesson plan. I copy it down, and play it over until I’ve figured out how each bit is being signed. Second, some people “say” the words while they are signing, and I can lipread that, so I squirrel those away and study them as well. Also, with some shorter vlogs, I can look at the comments to help figure out what was being said, even if that’s not the entire vlog. For example, if someone says in the comments “Oh it was great when you said…”, then I’ll review the vlog to see if I can find that part. It’s not quick by any means, but with patience, I think I’m getting somewhere.

    I then take what I’ve learned and try talking with people at the deaf meetups, and also try making these vlogs. I do welcome corrections, as well as any suggestions for alternate phrasing, if I’ve said something comparatively awkward that could be said another way.

    I’ll expand more in a post of its own, but learning ASL has been hugely interesting, with results way beyond that of “just” learning another language.

  18. Mia, do you mean comprehensive, maybe? It has signs appropriate for everything you might want to say?

  19. Mia says:

    Yes, comprehensive is that correct word. Thank for helping me out!

  20. Susan says:

    Hi BEG,

    I enjoyed watching your vlog, thought it was funny when you paused and couldn’t remember what it is you wanted to sign, even though you practised it in the shower!! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Sometimes when I do my video clips, I have to do it over and over again (I think it’s the same with many others!).

    ASL is your fourth language?? what are your other languages? You can try learning Auslan for your 5th language haha.

    Thanks for the lighting, it is much better, can see your face. Keep vlogging!! It’s a good way to improve. I hope you have deaf friends that you can chat with over a cuppa tea? It’s one of the natural ways to improve ASL.

    Aiden: I have problem with writing English too, still have scrunched-up paper everywhere. No problem with reading though! I guess I get more immersion reading English than expressing English via writing.

  21. BEG, *great* vlog! I’m impressed you sign that well after only learning ASL after 4 months! In no time you’ll be a pro!

    I agree with your point about practicing. That’s the only way we can improve our skills in *anything*, and people shouldn’t avoid reading or viewing v/blogs that are challenging to their vocabulary. That’s how you learn.

  22. mishkazena says:

    Hey! Nice to see you vlogging, BEG! ๐Ÿ™‚

    You sign pretty good for someone who just learned sign language few months ago!

  23. todos la vie says:

    Hi there, BEG!

    You’re on your way with signing naturally. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Translating ASL to English requires a certain skill. ASL signing is normally not in English word order. I had a frank conversation with a friend over the weekend where I found that if my friend saw that I couldn’t sign as well as I did now, she wouldn’t have made the effort to be my friend. We are CLOSE friends. The delivery of information is so important, it’s imperative to be natural, and that direct communication isn’t hindered by lack there of. So, if I were to translate each of my ASL delivery, I would provide access to people who don’t know ASL, yet I don’t think it would be a natural delivery. It wouldn’t project what I was trying to say in my ASL process which is different from my English decoding process.

    hmm…did you understand my signs in my vlogs? It looks like you’re well on your way (not sure of your receptive skills but I saw your comments in my blog), and when you find your comfort in signing, we’ll hit Waikiki or Australia to celebrate. ๐Ÿ™‚

  24. Aidan Mack says:

    Thank you for your time to explain why some people like me read so well and struggle with writing. I finally unlocked the door. It is good for us to have this discussion. I also thank you all for your support.


  25. Why am I only one here who write English with ease and sign ASL fairly well? I feel so out of place here because I want ot be in the crowd and say I STRUGGLE with either one but I can’t! I am distressed! It ALWAYS embarrass me when I stand out and people turn to me and say, “You are smart!” I know that it is a compliment but when I stand out, it traps me into being modest lest I hurt others’ feelings. However, to be honest, I do both fairly easily. I only have fear in writing because of writer’s block more than grammar stumbling blocks.

    One woman once emailed me and said “You intimidate others because you are intelligent (YES YOU!)” I do not remember an exact wording but it was similar. It took me back by surprise because there are GRADUATES of colleges here in DeafRead and I INTIMIDATE the people here with my so called intelligence when I simply practice what my college professors constantly teach, i.e. critical thinking.

    Now I feel ever more lonely!

  26. ASL Risen says:


    I cannot help it because it’s so hard for me to express from my mind if I happen not using good English skills. Well, I got some scars from deaf and hearing people made fun of my no good English skills. I got tired of being suffered from people who made fun of my languages.

    Thank you for encouraging me not to be shy to show my language. Shawn