Interpreting Chocolateby Lee McKenzie
For the past year I’ve been studying American Sign Language. I’m currently enrolled in a Vista program and have just completed the third module of level one. The Deaf woman who instructs the class is a dedicated teacher and has taken several of us keeners under her wing. When she suggested we attend a chocolate festival last Sunday, we all jumped at the opportunity. I mean, who would pass up a chance to sample chocolate from some of the best chocolatiers AND practice signing, all at the same time?
As it turned out, my instructor looked to me to do a lot interpreting for her. I might have had second thoughts if I’d known that ahead of time, but now I’m so glad I went. And I think I did pretty well, except for a few slip-ups. Like when I signed to her that a chocolate filling was made of white chocolate and dentists instead of white chocolate and nuts.
In class, my instructor would have corrected me but in public she smiled and nodded graciously. I’m sure she was having a good laugh to herself, though, and so she should. And I’m pretty sure that’s one mistake I won’t make again.
I also learned that carrying on two simultaneous conversations—one in ASL and one in English—is even more challenging than it looks. This was made abundantly clear when a woman at one of the booths gave me a puzzled look and said, “Um, I don’t understand sign language.” I repeated my question out loud, but not quickly enough to convince her that I knew what I was doing!
But I’m learning, and practice makes perfect, right? Practice with chocolate is even more perfect!
If you’d like to learn the signs for chocolate, nuts and other yummy stuff, visit http://aslpro.com and click on Main Dictionary.