Welcome to Online Auslan level 2
Welcome to level 2 of my online Auslan course for beginners. If you have made it this far, and can remember most of the vocab from level 1, then you are acing out and can probably already have some pretty good conversations with Deaf people. The signs you learn here will fill in some gaps and help bring your signing up a notch.
Please remember that the signs I’m teaching you are the signs I use in Melbourne, Australia. Signs vary a lot around Australia, and even here in Melbourne, so people will be sure to tell you that some of the signs I’ve shown you are ‘wrong’. But my aim here is to help you communicate effectively with Deaf people, and if you use a sign from another state, or a sign they don’t usually use, chances are they’ll still understand you.
You’ll notice a dramatic change in the videos for Level 2. You asked me to sign slower (I hope I did that!) and to repeat my signs. I’ve signed each word twice, so you can watch the first time, and do it with me the second time. I hope that makes it easier for you. If they are still too quick, watch the video on YouTube and use the settings cog to change the speed to 0.25.
The other big change in the videos is how amazingly professional they look. This is thanks to Joanne Donahoe-Beckwith, who kindly volunteered to film the videos for me. She’s a pro, as you can see, and even created a studio set up with beautiful lighting to make the videos the best they can be. She also subtitled and formatted all the videos for me, saving heaps of time. Many, many thanks to Joanne for her generosity.
Now.. let’s get started. Here are some signs that will be useful in conversation:
- live (e.g. to live in a house)
Learn Auslan – Phrases
Signs in Auslan don’t always correspond directly with English words. This video contains useful Auslan signs that encompass a whole English phrase.
- finally – notice the lip pattern here: ‘pah.’ This sign is used frequently – if someone is late and has just arrived, you could sign ‘pah’.
- now I get it – the lip pattern here is also ‘pah.’ This sign is used for a moment of enlightenment, when you have suddenly understood something.
- good riddance – the lip pattern here is ‘sha.’ You can do this sign in the direction of the thing that you are glad to be rid of.
- responsibility – notice the American letter ‘R’ is the basis for this sign. This sign has been borrowed from ASL – American sign language. The borrowing of signs is very common and it’s helpful to know the American alphabet for this reason.
- not my responsibility,
- not yet. In English we often separate the ‘yet’ and put it at the end of the sentence. Eg, ‘I haven’t eaten yet.’ In Auslan, you cannot separate the ‘yet’ from the not’. You might say: EAT ME NOT-YET.
- poor you. Add an expression of sympathy to your face for this sign!
- go to bed. One hand forms the bed covers, while the other hand represents the legs of a person going under the covers.
- get up. Completing the idea of the previous sign, one hand represents the doona while the other one shows a person standing up.
- stuffed. This sign is used when something is completely exhausted, or ‘fucked’. But it’s not rude, the way ‘fucked’ is in English. You use it for an appliance that is damaged beyond repair, or for a person who is exhausted. In the video, I also demonstrate changing the direction of this sign to show myself as exhausted.
- day off. It’s easy to think of this sign as starting with a nose-blow, an illness that can lead to a day off.
Learn Auslan – Frequently used little words #2
Here are some more signs that are commonly used in conversation in Auslan:
Sign singing with my homeschool community
Even though our son Jesse has enrolled in school for the first time this year, our homeschool community remains a big and important part of our lives. They have become a kind of family to us, and one of the things that has really stunned me personally, is the number of people who have made the effort to learn enough signs to communicate with me. I felt a part of the group because there was almost always someone there who could sign, and if not, they have been happy to chat with me by writing in my Talking Book.
Here’s a video from one of our camps. After several Auslan lessons at which huge numbers of participants learnt basic signs, I taught a group how to sign along to My Island Home.
Learn Auslan – Computers
With the advent of technology, signs have arisen to help us talk about computers, internet and social media. Some of these signs, such as Glide, Instagram and Skype, are newer, so there has been less standardisation across Australia. You may well encounter other signs for the same word, or you may need to fingerspell a word the first time you use its sign, to ensure the person you are speaking with understands you.
* text message (2 signs)
* Glide (this is a video messaging app frequently used by Deaf)
* video game
Learn Auslan – Thoughts and feelings
Here are some Auslan signs to help you express thoughts and feelings:
Learn Auslan – Australia
Auslan was brought to Australia with Deaf convict, Betty Steele, who used British Sign Language (BSL). Over time, and with separation from England, our sign language has evolved to be a separate, but similar language. Presumably it was Betty Steele or one of her friends who made up the sign for ‘Australia’ – you can think of the sign as picking up people in England and disposing of them by dropping them down in Australia.
This video shows signs for the name of our country, Australia, and our states. Notice that several of them are simply letters of the alphabet.
* New South Wales
* Northern Territory
* South Australia
* Western Australia
My apologies, but the video omits a few places. Here’s a description for how to sign them:
* Tasmania – fingerspell T A S
* Hobart – fingerspell H and point down
* Australia Capitol Territory – fingerspell A C T
* Canberra – With your non-dominant hand, form a ’1’ with the pointer finger. With your dominant hand, create the letter C. Rest the letter C on top of the pointer finger.
Learn Auslan – Clothes
Here are some useful signs to help you talk about clothing:
This is the vocab I’ve shown you: