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How To Learn Sign Language

Interpreter Interviews – Konae Williams Gives Advice for ASL Beginners and Future Interpreters


Hello everybody, welcome to ASL Basics.
Today we will be interviewing Konae Williams, she’s a sign language
interpreter here in California and we will be talking to her about what kind
of advice she has to those that are just learning the language for the first time
or perhaps those that may want to be interpreters in the future. So be sure to
stick around to the end for her own personal advice for those that may be
struggling with learning the language. Before we get started, if you’ve been
finding these videos helpful please like and subscribe and you can ring the bell
notification to be up to date to all the latest videos, and with all that being
said let’s go ahead and get on with the interview. Good morning Konae, how are you?
Good morning, I’m fine. How are you? I’m good thanks! So how long have you been
learning sign language? Around seven years. Seven years well that’s awesome.
And how long have you been interpreting? I’ve been interpreting for 4 years total. Wow, that’s awesome.
I do you have a few questions for you so my first question for you is, what
originally got you interested in learning sign language? Um, I think I
will like to begin, it started when I was in speech therapy. Mm-hmm. And on the wall I
would see like a poster and it would have all the fingerspelling it have ABC, I
remember as a little girl I would practice underneath the table ABCDE, so
think I started from that. Well that’s really cool. What about learning sign language for you was the most challenging? For me I
picked up the signs really good but it’s just communicating because I was really
shy, like oh man, I’m not a CODA, what do I do?
But just it was it was easy it’s just like getting to know my friends
socializing I think maybe. So did you find socializing helped you overcome
your shyness. Yes yes. Yeah for sure. I did. Yeah, I know for myself, I tend to be
more introverted so for me to learn a different language to put myself out
there and you can feel vulnerable sometimes but really that’s the best way
to learn huh? Yes, and people are so nice. People can surprise you. Yes! They’re more
patient than you give them credit for. How did you become an interpreter or
what inspired you to become an interpreter? Funny story, I wanted to
become an interpreter but I never really thought I would actually succeed I was
becoming an interpreter. It was my friend, she actually called the office and she
offered my name and they called me and I was like, nervous, I’m like, “really? Is this
happening? Me interpreter? Okay.” And I went to do the interview and I did like
practice a book for ASL because I want it to work with kids and they need to
see my skills and that’s how it started. Wow, that’s great. And how things been
since then? Have you felt like it’s been getting easier over the years? Yes, I mean the
language it changes but that’s really the fun. I love to see the different
changes in the language. I love to see how, like how one person have one sign for one word in English and it’s like, woah, I accept that, accept that, so you’re always like learning your brains always growing and stuff. Mm-hmm. Yes you’re really close it is a really it’s a fast evolving language and it’s
very regionalised too. I know for myself when I moved from Southern California to
Central California a lot of signs were different they designed pizza different
they signed computer different and it’s it’s a bit of a learning curve if you
move from one spot to the next or just if you’re communicating with people from
around the country to learn all the different variations of signs. How would
you explain the difference between knowing sign language to being able to
interpret sign language? Is there a difference? Yes. Okay learning sign language, you have your own personality. I don’t think you
believe that you have that, but yeah your personality is included also. When you
become an interpreter, you’re becoming other people you always need to match
the facial expressions, the language, the make sure you get that message always
like make sure you’re on point with that. And it’s just that kind of stuff. Yeah,
and that was something that I struggled with when I first started interpreting. I
remember one of the first classes I interpreted was a photography class in
college and the professor was angry and irate with the students and I was
sitting there interpreting with a smile. And so what the interpreter I was
working with was my mentor, he’s like, hey you need to match his facial expressions
if he’s angry you need to be angry. And that does get easier over time, not only
matching their emotions but their prosody and just the way that they’re
communicating and the way that they’re presenting their their words. It’s more
than just interpreting the words it’s interpreting the message. Yeah. So do you enjoy being an interpreter? I love it! You get to meet so many different people,
different students they all have their different personalities are so funny and
and makes your day. Like if you’re having a struggle like one day out home you
arrive to work and it’s just like their smiles. Amazing. I love it. Yeah, I
definitely have fallen in love with interpreting. In the beginning there’s a
lot of nervousness, there was a lot of uncertainty, but over the years just
learning the language and becoming comfortable with the interpreting
process, then you get to interact with the kids and adults and this wider
range of people and to get to know other interpreters it really has become a
really fulfilling and satisfying job for myself too. Yeah, and I also think maybe
because I’m always like encouraging myself, because I’m shy. You see me and
I’m like quiet. I’m not mean, I’m just shy, really. But then like in interpreting
your job is to work your job is to … it’s to support, your job is not about shy me,
it’s about them the two people the hearing and the deaf. Absolutely, and I
know you’re pretty busy, you’re interpreting and you’re also going to
college full time. You want to talk to us a little bit about that? It’s important
no matter what happens to take rest, like all my Saturday’s are rest days because
work, school, becomes overwhelming. So Saturday’s I’m resting. It’s important,
and always talking and just trying to live life in joy no matter what happens
like doing my best. No matter if it’s Church, if it’s working, if it’s school, just
always encouraging myself to succeed doing whatever I can. Yeah, definitely
there’s there’s balance to be found. And sometimes it can be tricky to
find that balance, but I think over time that you found it? I hope so.
I mean I can attest to that too. I’m also working full-time, I’m also going to
college full-time, I have a new daughter that’s a year and a half that keeps my
my life very busy. Busy! But definitely learning a new language, it can
fit into busy lifestyles so I wouldn’t necessarily say don’t learn sign
language because you’re too busy for it. No. Because you know you could make the time
and it could lead to very satisfying outcomes. You know, hence like finding a
job in educational interpreting, or just being able to be an inspiration to
others, or to encourage children. It’s a really satisfying job. So what kind of
goals do you have for the future? I want to become a math teacher, but also I’m
not quitting interpreting. I will continue to interpret. I want to sign
music one day, maybe at my church, but that’s that’s my goal. Just because I’m
becoming a teacher, I’m not gonna stop. I’m going to continue to learn, I’m going
to continue to be involved. I’m not going to quit. I love sign language, I love Deaf culture, I love it!
That’s awesome! So would you have any final advice for those are just
beginning to learn sign language or perhaps those that have been
learning for a while and are finding it difficult or are struggling with it? I say never give up, just keep going and also struggling you can always learn,
struggling is not failure, it’s not the same. Struggling is like succeeding.
Struggle first, and you learn how can I make it different. Like how. So never give up, always try to make it fun.
Mmm-hmm. Enjoy it! I think that’s probably the best advice I could give too, just try
to learn to enjoy the process and, you know, going out and meeting new people,
using what you’ve learned so far with others really help make that process
easier, and it actually can go a lot faster for those that are just beginning.
Great advice, I really appreciate you meeting with me today and to give your
experiences and your advice, thank you so much. Thank you. I hope this was
encouraging for all of you today to be able to hear Konae’s advice and for those
that are learning the language I know it can be difficult and it can be hard but
truly it is worth the effort. And let me know in the comments, what advice that
you found of Konae’s to be the most helpful for you. If you’re new to the
channel, you can catch up with all my previous videos with the card up above
or in the links in the description below. And if you’re eager to learn more ASL,
you can find me on instagram @aslbasics. And remember the best way to
learn a language is to actually use it, so please feel free to share these
videos with someone that you know so you can get some practice in, and continue to
learn the language. Thank you for joining us today, and until next time, I’ll see
you later!

3 Replies to “Interpreter Interviews – Konae Williams Gives Advice for ASL Beginners and Future Interpreters”

  • Let me know if you enjoyed the interview, and if you would like me to interview more interpreters, language learners or deaf in future videos

  • Her smoothness of signing I found it that as a Deaf person it wants me to communicate more with her. Often times many interpreters make Deaf people feel like they are doing us a favor n 4get that we need an interpreter. That is 1 of many reasons why Deaf culture does not fully accept some hearing people.

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