Activity Summary: Practice creating an English or Spanish interpretation/translation from any ASL source video.  You can choose what specific skills in the ASL to English process you want to focus on.

Developed by Doug Bowen-BaileySpiral that shows learning moving from Working with Object, Working with Resource, and then working with self

Competencies Addressed:  ASL to English or ASL to Spanish interpretation (A variety of competencies can be selected as a focus)

Time Required for Activity: 20 – 40 mins


To create a Spanish or English interpretation/translation for an ASL source text using a multi-step process based in a Vygotskyan framework.

For more information on the process, see:

Bowen-Bailey, D. (2012). “Just what the doctor ordered? Online possibilities for healthcare interpreter education,” in Swabey, L. and Malcolm, K.  In our hands: Educating healthcare interpreters.  Washington: Gallaudet University Press.

First Step:  Text Selection

Selection & Prediction

Select an ASL text from the Graduation to Certification archive that includes a written translation. If you are an interpreter who has Spanish as a working language, This link includes videos with both Spanish and English translations.

Links open in a new window.

After selecting a text, take 1 minute to mentally predict what might be in the text based on the title and the brief description of the video.

Interpret/Translate the Video (First Attempt)

In this first attempt, you will create either a written translation or a spoken interpretation. (You can use whatever amount of processing time that you would like.) Select a specific skill that you want to develop.  For example, you may want to focus on:

  • managing fingerspelling;
  • incorporating vocal inflection to reflect prosodic information;
  • selecting appropriate vocabulary to match the source register; or
  • accurately identifying who is doing what in examples of depiction or constructed action.

Whatever your focus, give it a try. If you do an interpretation, record your work so you can review it and compare it to later efforts.  (If you have time, it is extremely beneficial to transcribe your interpretation so you can be more specific in your analysis going forward.)

Check Your Work

Think about your first attempt.  What sections were challenging?  What questions did you have after interpreting the text for the first time?  With these questions in mind, compare your interpretation/translation to the written translation of the text in your target language. Note that the written translations are designed to provide support for your own analysis and not as the translation for the text. Use the translation to help you clarify parts of the text that you might have been more challenging.

Interpret/Translate the Video Again

Using what you learned by comparing your first interpretation against the written translation provided, interpret the text again. Focus on incorporating the specific skills you are working on.  Record your interpretation so you can compare it with your first attempt.


What did you notice that was different between interpreting the video the first time and after you had compared your work with the written translation? What new approaches or insights were you able to incorporate in your second interpretation?