Saturday, August 29, 2009

Practice makes perfect: How you can learn and remember a new sign quickly

As busy parents, many times our brains are overloaded with the tasks and responsibilities of our daily grind. Whether it be work, play, child rearing or all three, learning and executing a sign does take some work, but it doesn't have to be as overwhelming as you think. There are many things we can do to help increase our chances of remembering a sign learned in a book, DVD or class. When learning new sign language vocabulary, consider these important tips to help you remember them:

1. Will a short note or picture help you to remember how to execute the sign? Have pen/paper ready so you can write down memory reinforcers. Sentences don't have to be complete, little notes will do. Better yet, if you don't have a handout of the sign vocabulary, draw little pictures of the sign to help jog your memory.

2. Is the sign iconic? Does it look like what it represents? An example of this would be the sign for "banana". It looks exactly like what it is... peeling a banana.

3. Is there another sign that looks similar to the sign that you know? Sometimes distinguishing one sign from another can help you to recall the signs quicker. When you forget the sign, another word comes to mind to help you remember what you learned. An example of this would be the sign for candy and apple. They are both done at the cheek and with the pointer finger. The only difference is apple uses a bent index finger and candy uses a straight index finger. If you tell yourself that the sign for "apple" is very similar to the sign for "candy" and vice versa, your chances of recalling the sign increases.

4. Is it an initialized sign? Meaning, does the sign begin with the first letter of English word? An example of this would be the sign for "yellow" where the sign is made using a "Y" hand shape. A short mental note of this will help you to recall the sign quicker.

5. Does the sign show a movement that the object makes? For example, the sign for "monkey" is done very similar to how a monkey moves. Again, a short mental note of this will help you to recall the sign quicker.

The best advice I can give you to increase your potential in remembering a sign is something my father taught me long ago, "practice makes perfect"! Sign the vocabulary over and over and over again in as many appropriate contexts as possible. The more you practice using the sign, the easier it will be to recall it.  

Becka has a Bachelors in Early Childhood Education and Development, and has 18 years experience in the field. She is a Certified Parent Educator and Licensed Baby, Toddler, and Preschool Sign Language Instructor. You can visit her site, at

No comments:

Post a Comment