Developed by Mark Halley

Competencies Addressed: Cultural Competency

Time Required for Activity: 20 mins


To learn about Comprehending Foreign Signers from an ASL text.

In this video, Mr. Hongyu Xu, introduces viewers to the Chinese martial art of Taijiquan.


You will watch a video in which Mr. Hongyu Xu introduces viewers to Taijiquan, also known as Tai Chi. What do you know about Tai Chi? Before watching the video, do an internet search to familiarize yourself with the purpose and practice of Tai Chi.

Watch the Video:  Watch the video in its entirety. As you watch, you may notice that Mr. Xu exhibits some features that mark him as a non-native ASL user. Note these features. If there is anything you do not understand, watch the video again until it makes sense.

Time Code of video:  20:57 – 24:03

Check Your Work

Were you able to recognize some of the features in Mr. Xu’s language that may mark him as a non-native user? Here are some things you may have noted:

  • 21:14 – Inverted fingerspelling of Kung fu
  • 21:27 – Moving hand from non-dominant to dominant side when fingerspelling Wu
  • 21:25 – Duplication with the non-dominant hand when signing AND
  • 21:30 – Slightly different hand location when signing OLD
  • 23:05 – Large movement when signing NEVER
  • 23:17 – Open hand when signing EXPERIENCE
  • 23:23 – Incomplete movement when signing DEAF
  • 23:36 – Straight, rather than circular movement, when signing UNIVERSITY
  • 23:47 – Not using numeral incorporation when signing FIVE-MINUTES

Watch the Video Again:

  • Did you identify some of the idiosyncrasies in Mr. Xu’s signing style?
  • Did any of his language idiosyncrasies or features of his accent challenge your comprehension skills? If so, consider what you can do to continue improving upon your ability to communication with diverse populations of deaf individuals.
  • Did doing research on Tai Chi ahead of time help you to understand anything you may have otherwise misunderstood? For example, had you not known that that Wu was one of the four styles of Tai Chi, you may have misunderstood Mr. Xu’s fingerspelling of the term to have been referring to something ‘western.’
  • Finally, imagine you were interpreting for Mr. Xu in an interactive setting in which you had to interpret from ASL to English and vice versa. What factors might you consider when interpreting for him, and what strategies might you use to ensure mutual comprehension? For example, might you consider using consecutive interpretation instead of simultaneous interpretation?

Time Code of video:  20:57 – 24:03