ASL Tales
© ASL Tales:2015
ASL Tales and Literacy - by Susan Schaller Research shows many benefits of hearing students learning American Sign Language, increasing memory, comprehension, decoding, and capacity for expression, all foundational for reading literacy.* These benefits were shown with exposure to the whole language, not just vocabulary. ASL Tales uses storytelling as a way of seeing and learning from the rich language of ASL. ASL Tales uses the benefits to introduce and teach literary skills, beyond reading. ASL Tales’ stories are a superb tool for teaching narrator versus character, for differing points of view and character development.  Because ASL storytelling is closer to theater arts and the natural acting of all children, difficult concepts become easy.  The showing is always more powerful than the telling.  Visual language for hearing children launches readers of different levels into the world of literature, preparing them for more advanced reading.  Early readers want to learn more than just the mechanics of reading. To quote a Kindergarten teacher: “The story captures the imagination of the listener or the reader with a topic everyone seems fascinated with…castles, princes and princesses.  It seems to me with signing, the reader is captured visually… I really liked that the signer is animated and fun to watch.  She brings the story to life. In turn, students become animated and ready to learn how stories come to life: plots, and the ability to predict outcomes, characters and their respective viewpoints, and how learning the mechanics of language is how one makes a story.  See our Action Scripts for the support you need to use visual language for analyzing literature. To quote the teacher, again, after her successful lessons with ASL Tales’ Princess and the Pea: [For the objective:] “Comprehension:  The child will associate meaning and understanding with reading. “ The story definitely meets this criterion.  Where this is done beautifully is having the end of the story come after they take the honeymoon and go back to the north, south, east and west and showing them enjoying the diversity.  They see the prince sad, he tries to solve his problem, he finds the girl and he ends with a repeat of the beginning of the story so there is full circle. Contact me through for more information, above article or references.  --Note from ASL Tales:  Check links on our website: And check out a sample classroom guide for ASL Tales: Rapunzel. * Early Acquisition of American Sign Language: An Innovative Approach for Treating Attention-Deficit/HyperactivityDisorder, Deborah A. Cutter, Psy.D., MFT, and Susan M. Zneimer, Ph.D., FACMG, (PDF available on web) Below are a few entries from an annotated bibliography also available on request: DiSessa, Andrea A. Professor of Education at the University of California, Berkeley. "Computational Media and New Literacies—The Very Idea."Changing  Minds: Computers, Learning, and Literacy. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 2000. 1-51. Print. In his research, DiSessa examines how the use of technology can help develop students' "visual literacy," as they learn information through visual and kinesthetic media, rather than just auditory. His work can help readers understand how ASL Tales can effectively engage students through visual storytelling. Emmorey, Karen, Gigi Luk, Jennie E. Pyers, and Ellen Bialystok. "The Source of Enhanced Cognitive Control in Bilinguals: Evidence from Bimodal Bilinguals."Psychological Science 19.12 (2008): 1201-206. JSTOR. Sage Publications, Inc. Web. This article shows how bilingual education can help enhance students’ cognitive abilities beyond mere linguistic skills. It shows the potential for ASL Tales, to train students to comprehend information through multiple modalities (gesture and spoken word) and grammatical structures, creating a richer understanding of the topic.   Sweetser, Eve E. Professor of Linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley. "Regular Metaphoricity in Gesture: Bodily-Based Models of Speech Interaction.” Proceedings of the 16th International Congress of Linguistics. Paris, Fr.: Pergamon, 1998. CD-ROM Sweetser claims that the combination of gesture and spoken language creates a full-bodied speaking experience, in which the speaker can translate otherwise abstract cognitive concepts into concrete gestures in physical space. This work shines light on the usefulness of ASL Tales to situate students in the context of their environment; through gesture, they can spatially connect themselves to the world around them, a goal of literature.