A white man with short brown hair wearing a blue shirt stands in front of a grey background speaking. a White CATIE Center logo is in the lower right of the image.Developed by ASL Flurry 

Competencies Addressed

  • spatial structuring/discourse mapping
  • depiction in ASL
  • semantic equivalence
  • Taylor – Major Features
    • Major Feature: Use of Space
      • Key Skill 5.1: Structure space accurately in relation to the environment that is referred to in the communication event (p. 131)
      • Key Skill 5.2: Use referencing accurately when the referent is not present (p. 134)
      • Key Skill 5.4: Use accurate spatial agreement (p. 141)
      • Key Skill 5.6: Use accurate non-manual signals when structuring space (p. 146)
    • Major Feature:  Grammar
      • Key Skill 6.4: Use prominalization in dialogue accurately(p. 171)
    • Major Feature: Interpreting
      • Key Skill 7.10: Maintain accuracy regardless of the complexity of the English source langauge and message (p. 224)

Time Required for Activity: 60 mins


Interpreters will:

  1. Use space correctly for geographical relationshps
  2. Use space correctly for referencing
  3. Use speace correctly when conveying reported speech
  4. Accurately convey English terminology in ASL


Taylor, M. (2017) Interpretation Skills: English to American Sign Language. Edmonton:  Interpreting Consolidated.

Step One: Preparation

Video Description

In this narrative, Gary Sosa, an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher at a community college, talks about his experiences as a teacher working with Vietnamese immigrants around the time of the Vietnam war. He also shares his subsequent experiences teaching English to Vietnamese refugees in Hong Kong, in the small town of Yuen long, as well as working with other local teachers on an island by the name of Tai A Chau just off of Hong Kong.


Narratives can be difficult to prepare for because they are sometimes hard to predict. However, for this narrative, you have been given some information about the content. Based on what you know and on your own background knowledge, what would be helpful for you to know more about? Take some time and do an internet search now.

Step 2: Identification of depiction and structuring space

Step Two: Interpret into ASL

Interpret the Working with Immigrants video cold, without watching it first, and record your work.

Prepare for the interpretation by getting centered. For example, you may want to take a deep breath, get calm and determined and ready to do your best. Visualize yourself demonstrating the skills you are working on. You can do it!

Whenever possible, you are encouraged to interpret live for someone. When you work with real people, you are able to adjust your interpretation in real time based on cues you get from the person you are working with and do your best work. If you are not able to interpret live, visualize a Deaf individual with whom you are comfortable. In your mind, your goal is to make sure that this person appreciates the story as much as someone who uses the same language as the speaker and may want to meet the presenter.

Interpret the source video

Step 3: Get Feedback

Whether you were able to interpret live for someone or not, you are encouraged to ask for feedback form a Deaf person (friend or mentor). Either show your listener your recorded work or request feedback or upon completion of the live interpretation.

Ask your listener to look for specific features, especially about the features you are working on for this interpretation, rather than just overall feedback. Some questions you can ask are:

  • Where in the interpretation did you feel confused?
  • Could you tell who was doing what?
  • Were there terms that weren’t clear?
  • Was enough facial expression/vocal inflection used?
  • Were fingerspelled words clear?
  • Were classifiers used/interpreted correctly?

You can also ask comprehension questions specific to the interpretation, or ask your listener to summarize the information from the interpretation to find out if your message was clear. If you are asking a Deaf friend rather than a trained Deaf mentor, be sure to explain that this is a way to measure the  effectiveness of your interpretation, not an evaluation of their understanding.

Step 4: Assess Your Work

Part 1: Assess your ASL:

First, view the recording of your interpretation. Do an initial assessment based on the following:

  • Are subjects and pronouns present in each sentence (Overtly stated or incorporated spatially into the verb, or in another way)?
  • Are classifiers included to the extent possible? Are they correctly produced and used?
  • Is space structured accurately and to the extent possible?
  • Is depiction used to convey action and conversation?
  • Are facial expressions used in conjunction with classifiers and depicted action to convey meaning?
  • Do facial expressions accurately convey the speaker’s tone and affect?
  • Are the concepts expressed in English clear in ASL (Immigrants, refugees, etc.)?

If you had difficulty understanding the source video, re-watch it as many times as you need to fully comprehend the content.

Part 2 – View Sample Interpretation

View interpretation

View the sample interpretation that is provided. In the sample, look for the key features you are working on for this assignment to see how they are produced. Consider the following questions when watching the interpretation.

  • How is space used for referencing people, places and things? For geographic locations?
  • How is space used for referencing concepts?
  • How are non-manual markers used to portray affect or tone?
  • What examples of depiction do you see? How are non-manual markers used in these examples?
  • How are non-manual markers used grammatically?
  • How are sentences structured?
  • How is culture-specific information conveyed?
  • When is fingerspelling used?
  • What concepts are expanded upon for clarity in ASL?
  • What aspects of the interpretation would you like to emulate? Which would you prefer to do differently?

Pay especially close attention to areas that you had any trouble with, as well as the areas that demonstrate the features that are the focus of this assignment. What features would you like to incorporate into the re-do of your interpretation?

Step 5: Interpret the Video and Assess Again

Now that you have reviewed your work, gotten feedback and studied a sample interpretation, try the interpretation again and incorporate as many of the desired features from the sample interpretation that you can. Don’t forget to record your work.

Re-Interpret the Source Video

Finally, review your work one last time. Were you able to incorporate features that resulted in an improved version? If you can do it even better, try it again. Repeat until you are satisfied with your work.