The New Life: Following the Reality of Human Connection

We, all of life, are interdependent – strands in a great web.  Our society tells us everywhere that we are disconnected, separate; that each of us independent of another needs the latest new toy or trip or shampoo to make us happy. When I stop listening, looking and eating the messages about “I, me and mine,” I begin to sense reality, the interdependence of all of life.

One of my attractions to multilingual storytelling is the practical applications of seeing reality – our connections  to each other – in teaching reading, writing, aspects of literature, English and other languages.  It is a joy to see students of all ages learn to love learning through other people and their languages, through differences. Paradoxically, we become more ourselves when we learn from others and their otherness.

Our stories, myths, legends and shared expressions touch us, remind us of connections and expand awareness of connection. I am struggling to think of effective ways to revolutionize education through multicultural story telling. The turning would not only involve education, however; we all need to turn to each other, recognize ourselves in each other, through our sharing and stories, in order to care for and grow more life.

Soon, I am launching another experiment in building connections and community. On April 24th, I will be leaving my room, my bed, my Berkeley home of many years, and boarding an Amtrak train, the first of many,  I will be working on trains and buses and showing up where invited to present my literacy project or film project about human connection.  Instead of believing the messages of separateness and fear, the food of the ego, I will be following faith that life can and will unfold in many ways that I by myself could never imagine or plan.

The address – 1442A Walnut St. #139, Berkeley, CA  94709 – will still be good for sending messages, book or DVD orders of A Man Without Words, or ASL Tales’ book/DVD sets. Order the newly released documentary, A Man Without Words, before April 20th and you will get it quickly, before I’m on a long-distance train.

The Walnut Street address also accepts gifts to support buying books, creating new  materials and necessities if you prefer sending checks over the Donation Button to the left.

This announcement is also an updating of my blog post list.  If there are duplicate or you do not want to be on this list, please contact me.

If you have friends or family who are involved in early education, English teaching of any age or interested in a book talk/film screening of A Man Without Words and the exploration of a full length documentary on human connection with or without language, forward this or information and have them contact me at susan (at)

I hope to see you, on or off the train, if you are near an Amtrak route!  First stop planned is Omaha, then Chicago, upstate New York, New York City, back to Chicago, St. Louis, Boston and then (D.C.?, North Carolina?)?

Enjoy the day, everyday.

susan schaller



A Man Without Words, the short documentary, now available

Welcome to March which is marching along faster than I can blog.

Dear All of you who have shared your enthusiasm and interest.  Thank you.

2014 has already been a great year for sharing stories and connecting.  While finishing giving “perks” from the campaign, I have interacted with new friends, and have used multilingual tales in new ways.  ESL students, for example, have loved the signing while listening to English.  With more confidence and less translating in their native language (I suspect as their reaction time was quicker), phrases and conversations grew where only embarrassed looks and halting syllables had been.

And, now we, Zack Godshall and I, can share the story, A Man Without Words, in a short documentary.  I will be on the road soon, screening the film across the U.S. Trains and buses and, perhaps, a cart or bike will allow me to connect people to people, ideas to ideas and, hopefully, help build community while raising interest in a full length documentary.  Contact me if you have any ideas or suggestions or interest in supporting Signs of Life, the project name for this endeavor. See Films above, for more information.

I am also available for Signs of Literacy, if anyone is interested in a demonstration of multilingual tales and how many ways one can use them for a variety of learning objectives and different kinds of learners of all ages.

Write me if you would like a book or a DVD or send a donation of any amount to 1442A Walnut St. #139, Berkeley, CA. 94709  Or:

Hit the donation button to the left.  Donate any amount for a tax deductible donation.  For a thank you gift of a film or a book, contact me via this website and tell me what you would like and how many.  Let’s practice the gift economy.  I give gifts until I can no longer buy books and send them.  You give gifts to help me give some more.  It works better than our current system, yes?  More, soon, after I pack.

Forging Ahead, Using a New Version of an Ancient Tool

Sharing and telling stories is as old as language.  Multilingual storytelling with a book, illustrations, and a DVD, with a visual story as well as ten spoken translations, is just a modern twist of a well loved tool for learning and engaging with each other.  Join me in reviving this needed sharing in our schools, families and communities.  Write me to explore possibilities for sharing stories and improving education for students of all abilities and ages.

Currently, The Boy Who Cried Wolf and The Tortoise and the Hare are winning the hearts and tongues of some adult ESL students.  It is a joy to watch them show up week after week to tackle a new language with old brains (for learning language). Engagement is obvious, visual language acting as a bridge to English words and reducing the amount of translation in their native language also seems to be happening, but the most heartwarming and immediate result appears to be an immediate loss of self-consciousness and an increase in self confidence.  The evidence is the increased participation.  They are not only showing up for class regularly, coming early, but all the students are speaking more, often without any prompting.

This experience matches what teachers and parents are writing from many parts of the United States and Canada.  Little tykes are learning language, early wanna-be readers are beginning to read, older non-readers are reading, English learners of all ages are learning English.  Multicultural classes are discussing the importance of learning from each other.

AND – there has been a report that the amount of laughter has increased.  In order to keep moving ahead with laughter, connection and language, I hope to announce very soon the completion of a fun Activity Book to accompany The Boy Who Cried Wolf for little kids or anyone who likes to color.  Stay tuned.

Yours for language, literacy, and everyone’s story,


Everyone Needs a Village and We Need Everyone

Decades of teaching, speaking and writing as an advocate for visual language for visual babies have done almost nothing to change perspectives or policies.  Our conflicts are not about one language, one method or one group.  The root of human struggles
is the illusion that I or you or any one person is self reliant.  From that place, only a baby step takes us to “I’m right – you’re wrong.”

Thus, when the multilingual The Boy Who Cried Wolf  was published back in 2013, I did not celebrate my success as the author, I rejoiced at the team work and dedication of an
international group of volunteers who joined forces to forge a new tool for all of us: hearing, D/deaf, young, old, and of many cultures.  I, a hearing writer, Connie Clanton,
a Deaf illustrator, Dee Clanton, a Deaf performer, with Deaf and hearing supporters of all kinds learned from each other to produce an ASL Tales book and DVD to help build a village where we all learn from each other. Many voices joined to provide
ten different spoken translations to allow non-signers to appreciate the rich visual storytelling.

Preschool to adult students of all kinds are learning English, ASL, reading, writing, and learning to love learning.  Former non-readers are reading.  Identifying emotions via visual language, literacy skills, benefiting from new languages and new ways of seeing, and engaging multilingual families and classrooms are only some of the successes witnessed.  Like velcro, the uses keep muliplying.  There is nothing like it

The entire village is involved and, more important, included.

The magic of why it works so well with so many is that we all need to be part of the village in order to learn, and we all learn from each other, especially, from our differences. Instead of making you look or sound like me, I will learn from you and your uniqueness.

We all win by including everyone’s story.  Write me if you want a gift (see previous post) or want to share stories.  Happy New Year.

books, DVDs, stipends, and new materials for you, the community – write me

If you would like a multilingual ASL Tales book/DVD set, write me.

Special thanks to everyone who contributed to my Book GiveAway Campaign.  I now have books, DVDs, stipends, and new materials to give to our community.  Thank you for sharing storytelling, literacy and multicultural celebration in our communities.

Thank you, specifically to:
Jonathan Abraham, Jay Adkisson, Deirdre Anderson, Gloria Bayne, Lisa Bayne-Bellamy, Brandi Bellamy, Michael Bloxham, AaronBowyer, Monsieur Boudu, André Bohn, Geoff Chin, Jeanne Collins, Rex Feany, Zack Godshall, Anita Goldstein, Gary Grossman, Alexis Harte, Carol Harte, Tamara Hossler, Herschel Jackson, Cameron Johnson, Ginny Kamp, David Karpf, Charles Katz, Albert Kueffner, Yvonne Kwan, Amy Landis, Jane Lampe, Gordon Pedersen, Carol Peterson, Jeanne Pimentel, John Petitt, Francis O’Rourke, Lilly Rivin, Milena K Schaller, Kit Turner, and all of you anonymice.

All of you are invited to our end of the campaign and end of the year celebration in Kensington, California, December 22nd.  RSVP for directions and time.

I will share, soon, how your gifts are turning into more gifts.

Gratefully yours for stories and languages and sharing,