Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Spain: ASL Around the World
I want to start thanking Joyce for the opportunity of talking about myself, ASL in Spain and my experience.
I am a bilingual English/Spanish that is also raising bilingual children. My first child took a long time to start talking, and I saw how difficult it was to understand up to a 3 year old without speaking…therefore with my second child I decided I had to find a solution to communicate with them. I found Signing Time program and started signing with my second child to avoid the speech delay due to bilingualism. Could not believe when my baby signed “milk” when she was 10 months old, and was really amazed on how it would help us all. I have continued with Signing Time since then. As soon as I found out about Signing Time Academy I made all the courses to become a Master Certified Instructor and started to use it daily in many aspects.
I have been teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) here in Spain for some time, and thought about incorporating ASL to help Spanish children learn English better, and for groups with special necessities. I got some amazing results:
First, I saw that teaching English pronunciation together with the signs, made the children remember the pronunciation better. I made the sign and they would repeat the word as I had said originally.
Second, for evaluating purposes. The kids that were shy and didn't want to speak English could sign, so that would mean they really understood me, e.g. if I ask them "where are you going?" and they sign "home", I don't need them to speak at that moment since I know they understand me, even though they are not prepared yet to vocalize It.
Regarding older kids, I started using ASLto spell out words. For example, Spanish and English vowels often are confusing (English "E" has the same sound as the Spanish "I"); So when they don't really understand, I can just spell the letter and then they know if it really is an "I" or "E"; or also with "B" and "V".
Last but not least, are the special needs groups. Here in Spain, all the children are integrated in the same education system, and sometimes a teacher can have a Down Syndrome student without having a specific training in that matter. We found that some teachers had even invented their own signs to communicate with children with special needs...not knowing there was already a language and curriculum they could use. I am currently trying to train teachers to use Signing Time in the classroom.
Along the way, I found another bilingual mom worried about the same things as I, and also trying to find English books in Spain at a decent price. Since we saw it was difficult to achieve, we created our own company: www.twinkletwinkle.es and started importing English material for teachers and parents so they could have availability in these kind of resources.
We continue..growing and offering support, information and guidance in bilingual education to teachers, parents and caregivers. We love publishing free activities, crafts, articles and ideas in all of our social media.
Hope this publishing can help any other person in any other way.
Twinkle Twinkle - Angela Johnson - Madrid, Spain
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