Technique: Angel Boss

TQ: angel on your shoulder is a clever little technique that provides support for learners whose turn it is to speak: all of the other players in the circle participate by signing, mouthing, and sometimes even speaking the words in tandem with the player whose turn it is. This combination of oral and verbal prompts often assists the speaking player, and we like to emphasize that this is not “cheating”–in fact, we encourage it!

TQ: angel boss allows the speaker to take control of the angels to meet his or her needs. For example, on my first day in Tsleil-Waututh (which was about the third month of the program for everyone else present), the entire group was enthusiastically “angeling” each other, with not only hand signs and exaggerated mouthing, but also with verbal pronunciations. Some people love this kind of support, but for me, I found the auditory stimulation overwhelming, and my brain had a really tough time focusing on what I needed to say. I mentioned that this was difficult for me, and David told the group that he had seen this before: while many people have no problems with this kind of assistance, some people (like me) have trouble with it, and actually have a “tell” of blinking their eyes rapidly, unconsciously alluding to the difficulty their brains are having with this overstimulation.

Someone in the group suggested I “boss” my angels, i.e., let them know exactly what I needed. I asked that Anders (who was directly across the table from me [as opposed to next to me] and whose pronunciation was very clear and slow) be my sole audible angel, and that he, along with everyone else, continue to provide visual cues by signing and mouthing the words. This was perfect–it provided me with the ideal amount of visual and audible cues to help me without overwhelming me.

I’d encourage players to think about their angeling needs and the needs of others in their groups, and watch out for “tells” like the rapid eye blinking. A flexible group that can adapt to the needs of its participants will help everyone learn better!

Post authored by Caylie

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