Course rundown: What is ASL?

There are quite a few world languages to choose from here at CHS, since it’s fundamental for students to complete at least two years of the same language in order to get into a 4 year university. By taking the American Sign Language (ASL) class, students are not only immersed in the language, but also given the opportunity to learn a vital skill.

CHS is so thankful to have Ms. Manning as our ASL teacher. Students adore her and her passionate teaching style.

After working as a teacher of the deaf for many years, she began teaching at Cherokee in 2010.

What do you enjoy most about teaching this class?

Seeing students knowing nothing in level one to being able to tell a complete children’s story by the end of ASL three, and by seeing the progress that they have made.

Would you recommend ASL over other world languages?

I recommend the class for students who are visual-spatial learners.  You have to be able to organize abstract thoughts into a meaningful way in space.  This can be a challenge for people who struggle with organization, in general.  Students tend to think of ASL as the “easy world language” because it is not spoken or written, but it does have its own grammatical structure that is very different from English.  It is not just doing a sign for each English word.  It incorporates facial grammar and expression, in addition to moving the entire body.  Students who are uncomfortable with people looking at them would probably not want to sign up for my class.  After all, it is a visual language!

As of right now ASL is only offered for three years. Students begin the course with the manual alphabet, since it is the base of vocabulary to come. Additionally they do units on the history of ASL as well as what it means to be deaf. In years two and three students expand their vocabulary and learn about classifiers, a significant aspect of sign language.

In order to be immersed in the language, students participate in many in class activities. At the beginning of the course, students spend a lot of time learning sign language by repeating signs into memory.

Students also participate in skits, partner work, and discussions to aid in learning the skill. Level three students are given the great opportunity to interpret the special needs Christmas play.

With a background in ASL students can further their education and receive jobs as a teacher of the deaf, ASL teacher, free lance interpreter, relay operators, and many more. An interesting fact is that there are multiple varieties of interpreting jobs out there. One can be a medical, legal, or even a theatrical interpreter.

Even if a student does not continue into a career, learning ASL is also beneficial for the community.

I’ve had lots of students tell me over the years that they were working at say Ingles and had a deaf customer come in and they were able to communicate with them.

Mrs. Manning

Additionally, CHS students enrolled in ASL have many positive things to say about the class.

Why did you choose this class over other world languages?

I know someone that is deaf and I would love to be able to communicate with someone that is deaf that in the future.

Havyn Lewis, Level 3

I chose ASL because I already knew how to sign the alphabet and I thought it would be really fun to learn.

Jenelle Fuller, Level 3 Graduate

What are some of your thoughts on Mrs. Manning?

I think Mrs. Manning is a great teacher and I can tell she is very passionate of deaf culture and the community.

Jaiden Pettersen, Level 2

She is an amazing teacher and is great at what she teaches since she has a connection with ASL. She allows students to grow their knowledge while having fun.

Natalie Brock, Level 3 Graduate

Overall, we hope this article inspires students to not only enroll in the ASL course, but also take any opportunity possible to learn this enriching skill. Also, a big thank you to Mrs. Manning for giving me the run down on this class, and inspiring all her students to sign, creating a brighter and more inclusive world.

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