Learning American Sign Language

Gwen Education Assistant 0 Comments

Recently we took our Fundamentals of Sign Language course. This was the course that I have been the most anxious about my entire program. There are no marks in this course, you either pass it or you don’t. It’s not something that affects my grade point average. But this is the one that I have been worried about. I have actually lost sleep over this course, if you can believe it! That is how worried I was over this course. Well, I shouldn’t have been worried about it.

Our sign language instructor was a lot of fun. She has worked as a Sign Language Interpreter in the School Districts and really knew her stuff! I was amazed at how easy she made it for us to learn about the Deaf Culture and the sign language.

The course is only 2 days long and there is a lot of information packed into those 2 days. In the beginning it seemed really overwhelming. I didn’t see how I was going to learn all this information. Especially as I am not very good at doing things with my hands I thought. I had tried to learn sign language before and thought I couldn’t do it. I was wrong! If I can learn sign language, anyone can! In the first morning, we were learning the alphabet. That was easier than I thought it would be. Most of the letters actually remember themselves which helps to remember them. We learnt to sign our names that morning too. We got to practice reading our classmates names as well.

In the afternoon of the first day we moved on to learning phrases and practicing a conversation. We learnt how to say things like; “Hello, how are you” ” I know a little bit of sign”, “What classes do you have”, “I have English, science, gymn and cooking”, “Time to go”, “Nice to meet you”. “I’m not deaf, I’m speaking”. The really interesting thing is that when signing a lot of things do not translate directly into English as we would say it. American Sign Language is its own language and so direct translation is not always possible.

The biggest thing I took away from the Sign Languarge Course other than having learnt the fundamentals of course, was that I didn’t have to be so worried or scared about it. I think this an excellent thing to remember for any challenges we face in school or life in general. Often what we worry about is bigger in our mind and imagination than what it turns out to be in reality. I just tackled this one piece at a time and was able to do it. I practiced in class and went home and practiced at night. I did what I needed to do in order to be successful. That is all any of us can do. If we do what we need to do, we will be successful. This was a great course and I know that if I have to use sign language with a student, I could use the basics and make them understand me. I love all the extra certificates we get at Stenberg that make us more employable when we graduate.

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