Classroom Interpreting

Classroom Interpreters - What does an Educational Interpreter do?

Make Appropriate Use of Fingerspelling

Fingerspelling is a very important skill for students who learn through an interpreter as well an important tool in developing English literacy. Students who develop good fingerspelling skills have bigger reading vocabularies.

Educational interpreters should use fingerspelling in their everyday interpretation, even for words where there are signs. Often hearing professionals find fingerspelling difficult and may resort to invented signs. This may serve the immediate goal of a shared understanding of that concept, but it will not be understood outside of that classroom. Rather than inventing new signs, interpreters should use fingerspelling to convey English words with no sign equivalent.

Interpreters should also fingerspell all new vocabulary that the student will be expected to recognize in print. Research shows that this helps vocabulary learning and it helps create a cognitive link with print.

When fingerspelling a new term it is often beneficial to use the “sandwich” technique in which the interpreter fingerspells the word, signs the meaning, then fingerspells the word again. The use of “sandwiching” techniques can serve to identify the specific term, provide the appropriate spelling and insert the meaning of the word. It is important to fingerspell the word more than a few times in order to provide the student with multiple opportunities for learning.

See also Vocabulary section on this site.