Frequently Asked Questions about RSVP

By design, RSVP allows students to study on their own time, especially the CD component that provides practice in RSVP. This leaves class time free for work on other aspects of ASL. There is plenty of flexibility with RSVP. Aspects of the book and DVD can also be used for class discussion and analysis.

What is RSVP?
Fingerspelled Word Recognition through Rapid Serial Visual Presentation (RSVP) is a complete instructional package that students, working interpreters, interpreter educators, ASL students and ASL teachers can use. RSVP includes 3 parts:
  1. A CD that builds up a cognitive processing strategy that allows you to process a serially presented word very quickly.
  2. The book provides access to 20 years of fingerspelling research.
  3. The DVD provides a way to study fingerspelling word-by-word, and then finally to recognize the words in context.
How does RSVP help improve fingerspelled word recognition?
Fingerspelled word recognition is the most difficult aspect of ASL comprehension. Until now, there has been no research-based approach to teaching and learning fingerspelled word recognition. This 3-part package contains carefully researched and sequenced cognitive activities and information that reliably leads to improvement in fingerspelled word recognition.
Does RSVP fit into The Effective Interpreting Series Pyramid?
Yes. Fingerspelled Word Recognition through RSVP fits in the language proficiency layer of the pyramid. Comprehension of ASL includes fingerspelled word recognition
Where do I start?
You should begin with the CD and complete all 43 lessons. At the same time you can be reading the textbook to get a fuller understanding of fingerspelling and why RSVP works. After you have completed the CD you can move on to the DVD.
Why does the CD have letters from the Roman alphabet instead of fingerspelled handshapes?
RSVP is designed to help people who are already fluent in English make the important transition to comprehending a sequentially presented language, ASL. Research shows that many hearing people have great anxiety about seeing fingerspelled words, but they do not experience anxiety about seeing printed letters. RSVP trains second language learners to process sequentially presented information without anxiety.
What is the CD like?
Each word is presented in rapid serial fashion, one letter at a time. It is important to start at the beginning of the CD and work all the way through it. Instructions are on page 9 of the textbook.
How many lessons are there?
There are 43 different lessons. The lessons increase in difficulty as you continue. Within each lesson there are five word lists with 20 words each. By the time you complete the CD you will have studied 4300 words in RSVP.
Are the lessons multiple choice?
Lessons 1-5 are multiple choice, with the answer provided. The words increase in length as you progress through the lessons. Lessons 6-43 provide a space for you to type the answer.
What are distracters and why are they used?
In lessons 20-42 you have the option of turning on distracters, which are simple math problems that appear after the RSVP word. You must respond to the math problem before entering your response to RSVP. The purpose of the distracter is to demonstrate that you have more memory and processing time than you may be aware of. Adequate processing time is crucial to simultaneous interpreting. You can turn off the distracters at any time.
Can I vary the speed of RSVP?
No. The speed you see has been experimentally determined to be the most effective training speed.
How do you know RSVP helps fingerspelled word recognition?
A number of different research projects were conducted using a prototype of RSVP. These studies showed us that fingerspelling and RSVP share a cognitive similarity. Research demonstrated that those who studied RSVP improved in fingerspelled word recognition.
What is the DVD like?
The DVD has 8 ASL monologues and a word list that allows you to study each fingerspelled word from the accompanying monologue.
How should I use the DVD?
You should complete the CD first, then begin using the DVD by selecting a word list to study. In the word list you will see each fingerspelled word from the corresponding monologue, presented 5 different times:
  1. An RSVP presentation of the word
  2. The fingerspelled word at normal speed
  3. The fingerspelled word in slow motion
  4. The written equivalent of the fingerspelled word
  5. The fingerspelled word at regular speed

Allow yourself time to study each word in the list until you can easily recognize the word, then view the corresponding ASL monologue. You will easily recognize each fingerspelled word in context.

My interpreter education program does not offer a course in fingerspelled word recognition, how can I use RSVP with my students?
RSVP can be assigned as an out-of-class project spanning several semesters. For example, first semester interpreting student can benefit from studying the CD over the course of the semester. Reading the text can be assigned during the second semester. Much of the information in the text relates to interpreting and would be a good addition to any course in the IEP. Finally, studying the word list and then the monologues can give students a feeling of success by independently taking on study projects that improve their skills.
Where does RSVP fit in an interpreter education program?

RSVP can be used as an instructional package that spans several semesters. In the first semester of the program, students can study the CD, later they can read the textbook and finally, study the word list and monologues.

Alternatively it can be used in its entirety for a three-credit course. A free sample course syllabus is available.

Should each student have his or her own RSVP set of materials?
Yes. The RSVP package components are designed to foster independence and accountability for one's skills by providing study materials that students can use on their own to improve their skills. If the teacher has the only copy of the CD, book, and DVD, students will have limited access to the deliberate practice that can lead to improvement.
Can RSVP be used in ASL classes?
Yes! Fingerspelled Word Recognition through Rapid Serial Visual Presentation (RSVP) can be successfully used in a variety of ASL classes. You can even spread RSVP lessons out over several courses.
How can I use RSVP with ASL I students?
Students in ASL I will benefit from using the CD, which provides intensive practice in rapidly processing serial information. The RSVP process (understanding a word one letter at a time) underlies the process of fingerspelled word comprehension and provides a strong foundation for new ASL students. There are 43 lessons on the CD for ASL I students to complete during an entire semester.
How can I use RSVP in ASL II?
Have your students read the book during this course and continue to review the CD and practice RSVP. Reading the 11 chapters in the book will give students greater insight into the nature of fingerspelled words and the importance of appropriate, developmental practice.
Can RSVP be used in ASL III and IV?
Yes. Ideally your students have practiced all 43 lessons on the CD (4,300 practice items in all) and read the book before entering ASL III. If this is the case then ASL III students can study the word lists on the DVD to begin building their templates for fingerspelled words. Later in ASL III or in ASL IV students can learn to recognize the fingerspelled words in context by watching the eight ASL monologues on the DVD.
I teach ASL III and IV and my students were not exposed to RSVP training in earlier ASL classes. Can I use RSVP in ASL III and IV?
Yes. The entire RSVP can be used as a text for students in ASL IV. Students should begin with the RSVP CD and the book. Then they should go on to viewing and studying the word lists on the DVD, followed by studying the 8 ASL monologues, which contain the fingerspelled words from the word lists. RSVP is designed for individual practice and students can work thorough these materials for homework. In class discussions can center on the information in the book and student experiences building fingerspelled word recognition skills.
What if I have other questions about RSVP?
Just contact Carol Patrie at effectiveinterpretinginc@gmail.com

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