April 1, 2011
Learning how to communicate in other languages is extremely important in every aspect of life. To graduate high school, students must complete two years of a foreign language. The most popular and well-received language to complete these high school credits has been Spanish.
But suddenly, a language that has been foreign and unfamiliar has entered the campus of Temescal Canyon, sparking a new appreciation and passion in the students. This language is the beautiful sweeping of hand motions known as American Sign Language.
In the school year of 2009-2010, American Sign Language was added into the foreign language department of Temescal Canyon and Lakeside High Schools. I decided to enroll in American Sign Language 1, because I could not pronounce a word of Spanish for my dear life! As the class began, I quickly learned that American Sign Language would be just as difficult and frustrating as pronouncing Spanish, but I was up for the compelling challenge.
There are many guidelines in ASL1 that I learned to use and follow daily in the class, such as keeping firm eye contact while signing, using sign space to keep your hand shapes precise and fluid and, most importantly, to create a dictionary of ASL words in your mind by signing each word 50 times to imprint it into your brain. All of these lessons are extremely important when communicating with the deaf community.
This year, in the 2010-2011 school year, I am enrolled in ASL2. Although I thoroughly enjoy the class, it has proved to be 100 times more challenging than ASL1! One of the assignments has been the “two days of silence” project. The requirements of this project included students not being able to speak or hear at school and home, turning off the radio in the car, turning on captions when watching any TV or movies, and only using ASL as a way to communicate with family and friends.
This assignment was a wonderful learning experience for me and my fellow classmates. It made us more appreciative of being able to hear, and showed us the importance of learning ASL for our future endeavors with the deaf community.
With an estimated 1 in 20 Americans being deaf or hard of hearing, I think that American Sign Language is more important than ever in learning to communicate and socialize with the deaf community. Deaf people contribute immensely to our society, but not enough people know how to communicate with them. As the number of deaf citizens of the Unites States and the world to continue to grow, I think it is only fair that the number of hearing citizens learning ASL grow and blossom.
The success of learning how to sign is highly rewarding. Being able to build a bridge where few can travel opens doors to many opportunities. Although there are many challenges, this art of communicating is gratifying, artistic and beautiful.