New American Sign Language Class: A Follow-Up

Wednesday, October 17th, 2018


sign language
Having been introduced to American Sign Language at a very young age, I’ve always been quite fascinated with how people learn the language and sign it correctly. I have taken Chinese for six years, and I know that if you say a word with a certain tone, it can have a different meaning than the exact same word said with a different tone. Wondering if the same approach applies to ASL, I was so excited to have the opportunity to sit in on an ASL class and interview some of the students.

Hailey: To start, can I have your name and grade?

Sophia: Sophia and I am a junior.

H: How are you enjoying the class so far?

S: I really like it. It’s easier for someone who has struggled in world languages before to understand. It translates easier to English because a lot of it is muscle memory.

H: How do you like Mrs. Policelli?

S: I really like her too! She’s supportive and helpful and really understanding because sometimes it takes us a while to understand a new phrase and to get the signing perfect.

To further diversify my research, I sat down and had a discussion with Abby, a freshman, who is enrolled in the same class.

Hailey: So can you briefly explain the levels of difficulty of the class? Both personally and class-wise?

Abby: It’s pretty easy. During our first class, we were signing and writing for the whole time; [Mrs. Policelli] didn’t talk until the end. Things like asking to go to the bathroom is easy though, but class in general requires a lot of attention. Names also take a while to sign because we have to do each individual letter.

H: If you could use one word to describe the class, what would it be and why?

A: Helpful. We learn about the deaf culture and community in the class too, and we really get to understand how they live.

H: What was the transition like from other languages that you have taken in school to ASL?

A: There is no talking. Throughout the first class Mrs. P didn’t talk at all. We actually all thought that she was deaf until she talked during the last two minutes of class!

Lastly, I was intrigued by how tests get distributed in the ASL class. Olivia, another freshman, explained to me how they were given and what they were about.

Hailey: Are you enjoying the class so far?

Olivia: Yeah! It’s a really relaxing class so that makes the environment much more helpful for all of us. New signs get repeated a lot, so that is beneficial too.

H: How are tests distributed? Are they difficult or easy, compared to previous language tests?

O: They are pretty easy at the moment. Right now we are still working with basic signing and vocabulary, but I think that the harder tests will arrive throughout the year.

H: Any feedback or extra things you want to mention?

O: If you struggle with world languages, then I would take ASL if I were you. I think it’s just easier to learn!