In-Depth Final Blog Post – Justin C. – ASL

Hello, my name is Justin C., and welcome to In-Depth Night 2021.

What is the In-Depth Project?  

The In-Depth project is one of the final and most important projects in the Talons program. It is a 5-month long project for Leadership that lasts from January to May. In the project, we choose a certain skill (one that you haven’t gone “In-Depth” before and is not regularly available to learn at school) and go in-depth in it, learning and gaining new skills along the way. By the end, you should have learned a certain amount of knowledge or be able to perform your certain skill at a relatively good level. Everyone is tasked with finding a potential mentor and asking for their mentorship. The mentor should be an expert in the field of your skill so that they have the best chance of helping you successfully complete your end goal.  

 What skill have I chosen to learn?  

The skill I chose is American Sign Language also known as ASL. ASL is a complete, natural language that has the same linguistic properties as spoken languages, with grammar that differs from English. It allows people to communicate using their hand motions rather than talking. The separate grammar will definitely be a challenge to learn and make it difficult. It is widely used among Deaf and Mute people as a main means of communication.

Why did I choose this skill?  

I chose to do American Sign Language because I thought that I could potentially be very beneficial in my future as I hope to be a Pediatrician. I know that the two aren’t directly related but that wasn’t the only reason. Sign Language is something I’ve wanted to learn for years, but never really found the time or really the right opportunity to do so. At first, when I heard about In-Depth, I wasn’t sure what to do but then I remembered back to some of the skills that I’ve always wanted to learn.   

My older sister and Mom used to watch a show in which the main characters were deaf, and signing was a consistent part of the show. My sister and mom looked up how to spell their names and taught me as well. It took me a while to remember what each sign meant (as I was young and it was my first time ever signing) but after I learned even those few letters, I was fascinated by what I had achieved. My mom is really excited that I’m doing ASL and I will try my best to teach her what I learn along the way, after all, she is the one who helped inspire me to do ASL. Hopefully, by the end of my In-Depth project, I can have achieved my goal and be as fascinated with Sign Language as I was then.  

Why choose ASL over other Sign Languages?  

Well for starters there is no universal sign language. Different sign languages are used in different countries or regions. For example, British Sign Language (BSL) is a different language from ASL, and Americans and Canadians who know ASL may not understand BSL. Some countries adopt features of ASL in their sign languages. Since ASL is the Sign Language used in Canada I thought that it would be the best choice for me.  

What Did I already know?  

Starting off In-Depth I don’t know much ASL or rather any form of Sign Language at all. A few things I already knew how to sign were: 

  • Thank you 
  • Teacher 
  • Mother 
  • Grandmother 
  • Stop 
  • A few letters (A, B, E, I, J, O, K,) 

My Mentor:

Nigel Howard is an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter and has been the man tasked with conveying the sometimes complicated details around new cases and the growing public health threat posed by COVID-19 through ASL to the deaf community locally and across the country. He has been a professional interpreter for more than two decades, including 24 years as an instructor at Douglas College’s program of sign language interpretation. Howard also works in the linguistics departments at both the University of Victoria and the University of British Columbia. One of his specialties is interpreting in medical settings. Nigel Howard is deaf and knows 7 different Sign Languages including Japanese, American, British, Australian, Portugues, German, and Russian which makes this a very unique experience. You may have even seen him on T.V. interpreting for Dr. Bonnie Henry.

Showing my learning:

Today I will be teaching you some of the basics that I got to learn during my In-Depth journey. During my time I have been able to learn about the syntax and grammar of ASL, many signs, aswell as learning about the deaf community and some of their beliefs.

Some of the signs I have learned include;

  • The Alphabet
  • Numbers (1-30) and Shapes (circle, triangle, square, heart, diamond)
  • Countries/Places: Australia, Canada, America, Hong Kong, Singapore, Work, School, Home
  • Animals: Spider, Koala, Kangaroo, Dog, Cat, Shark
  • Days of the week; Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday (2 signs), Friday, Saturday, Sunday
  • Family: Younger Sister, Younger Brother, Older Sister, Older Brother, Mom, Mother, Dad, Father, Grandmother, Grandfather, Parents, Grandparents, Oldest, Middle, Youngest.
  • School courses: Leadership, Math, Photography, Social Studies, English, Cooking
  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Plan(s)
  • Feelings; Good, Great, Fine, Wonderful, Tired, Sad, Angry, Cool, Awesome, Neat

(To learn more about all the signs I have learned, read my previous blog posts.)

Other Things I have learned;

  • Use your dominant hand (the hand that you use for writing)
  • ASL uses facial grammar to convey meanings, emotion (affect, tone, nuances) and also shows the size, distance, etc.
  • Different hand sizes/motions are the same as emphasizing words.
  • There are about (estimated) 300 signed languages around the world

The ABCs. Here I will teach you how to sign the ABC’s then give you two challenges to try on your own.

Sign Language Letters Chart - Letter

Challenge #1: Guess the spelling, my mentor has spelt a word or name out. Can you guess what it is?

Can you Guess what he spelt? If you said N-I-G-E-L you are correct!

Challenge #2: Try spelling your own name. Were you able to do it? If yes that’s Great!

Here is a small little goodbye clip that includes my mentor teaching me ‘see you later’

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed reading and participating in my In-Depth final blog post.

24 thoughts on “In-Depth Final Blog Post – Justin C. – ASL

    1. Hello Ms. Mulder, the most challenging thing about learning ASL was learning the new syntax and grammar. For example, in English, you would ask “What is your name?” but in ASL you would sign “Your name what?” The big takeaway for me is getting to have this awesome opportunity to learn a new language and be able to share about it. Thank you for looking at my final project.

  1. I got it right! 😁
    Thanks for sharing your learning and why you chose ASL, and I also love how you incorporated your mentor into this post too, even if it’s photoshopped 😂. Great job!

    1. Hey Justin, thanks for looking at my post! The mentor photos aren’t actually photoshopped 😂, he did this during a zoom meeting last week.

  2. I think I got mine right? Great job on your In-Depth, Justin! This was a very informative presentation, I learned some of the ASL alphabet from it, too! Awesome job!

    Dylan

  3. This blog post was very well-written and informative! You seem to have chosen this topic for a thoughtful reason and I enjoyed the way you demonstrated sign language skills.

    1. Hey Bana, thanks for looking at my post! I hope you got to learn about ASL and maybe you’ll take it on someday. Maybe even for In-Depth 2022.

  4. I had no idea how many different sign languages there were, it really is a much more significant part of our world than most would realize at first. Very cool!
    -AJ

    1. Hey AJ, thanks for looking at my post! I agree sign languages are a significant part of our world. I think that they should be incorporated more often into everyday things. Studies show that learning sign language at an early age helps to improve cognitive skills!

  5. Hi Justin. Angie here! I’d like to see some of the signs you learned and get you to show me a few things. I can do some letter signing (I learned in Girl Guides when I was a young lass) but I’d like you to show me some more next time our families meet up. Great job!

    1. Hello Ms. Angie, thanks for looking at my post! I hope you got to learn about ASL. That’s awesome that you learned some letter signing when you were younger.

  6. I can’t believe Nigel Howard was your mentor! He’s amazing! How luck you were! Thanks for such a clear outline of your learning process, Justin. I also loved how you made your presentation interactive….really giving care of the human reading your post! Well done!

    1. Hello Mrs. Quach, thank you for looking at my blog post! I was very fortunate to have my mentor. I tried to add a fun interactive piece to my blog to make it have a fun aspect.

  7. Great work Justin. I enjoyed figuring out what he was saying. You made a very informative blog post. A question I thought of while reading your post was, what are the differences between ASL and the other sign languages?

    1. Hey Lucas, thanks for looking at my post! The differences between ASL and other sign languages are similar to spoken languages. For example, many English words are influenced by words for other languages like Latin. The same thing happens with sign languages such as BSL (British Sign Language) being influenced by ASL.

  8. Good job Justin! You did a good job showing your learning, I liked the game where we had to guess what he was saying, I also liked how you showed us the alphabet in ASL. Only thing I would do differently is put some pictures at the start to make it a little more engaging. Great work!

    1. Hey Ronan, thanks for looking at my post! I’m happy you enjoyed the game with the alphabet. I agree, I could’ve added some more pictures that would represent my learning more and make it more engaging. Thank you for your feedback!

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