Most helpful positive review
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
LOVE-IT, but not for beginners!
on April 3, 2011
I can't believe this is billed as a book you'd give a beginner who was learning ASL. I thought at first there must be a DVD somewhere to go along with the dialogues, but apparently, there isn't - so you're on your own with what is a fairly dense and complicated book about a fairly unusual and complicated language.
Definitely not the place to start your studies.
So why am I giving it four stars?
Because it's a GREAT book for me to pick up now. After four courses in person plus the Signing Naturally text plus DVD, I was ready for something that would help me jump to the next level, ie ASL grammar and classifiers. And this book is better than anything else I've seen for those two things, if nothing else.
Most people approach ASL from a "vocabulary" perspective - with a dictionary, a phrasebook, wordlist, etc. That's great for starting out, but not so good as you begin wanting to have more complex conversations where pure vocabulary won't fill in gaps like tense and more in-depth inflected forms of verbs. (If all you want is nouns, a word book is great!)
This book takes a different approach, presenting ASL grammar, in the form of basic sentence-types, first, right up front. It also presents very helpful information about facial expression, body shifting and other non-verbal components of ASL communication, along with valuable information about deaf culture - though I've known some deaf people who'd disagree with some of the information.
(for instance, they state unequivocally that anyone with hearing can never be part of the "Deaf" community (capital D), whereas I've heard elsewhere that CODAs (children of deaf parents) and some other hearing individuals may indeed be considered part of that community and culture)
As I mentioned, I'm now wrapping up my fourth course in ASL - Units 1-10 in Signing Naturally, which is a harder and more comprehensive text in some ways, but which has not so far provided as much of a rigourous and comprehensive overview of grammar and has also so far made little or no specific mention of the classifiers which can literally make up 90% of an ASL conversation!
With some experience and background in ASL, this book will help intermediate students take the vocabulary and other concepts they've learned to the next level - a level where they're actually able to carry on natural conversations using genuine ASL grammar.
I certainly wish it came with a DVD, but I found the images fairly clear (better than some I've seen) and have been able to make my way through it without assistance now that I'm fairly confident with my own (limited) abilities. But again, I wouldn't have been able to do that as a beginner, so go elsewhere for a beginner book... and then come back to this one!