I started taking an American Sign Language course at the local community college. I made it through high school, 4 years of college, several post-graduate classes, and a year and a half of Cosmetology school. But this is the first time I’ve taken a class purely for fun. And it is fun!
My teacher is a bit of a stereotype. She went to Berkley in the 60s. She has long, straight gray hair that has never been touched with a curling iron or a box of color. (Sorry, it’s my job to notice these things. She also needs a trim, but I digress.) On our first day of class, she was wearing purple shoes, blue socks, purple pants, a blue and purple shirt, a purple headband, and purple nail polish. And, she is hard of hearing, which makes her a great teacher, since she is signing as she speaks anyway. She might as well be teaching us to do it too. She is a very good teacher as well – lots of repetition, practice, and knowing where the signs come from.
She went around the room asking us all why we were here. The majority of the class was like me, just interested in learning a new language. There were a few people that had specific reasons, however. A few teachers from the same school were there because they recently got a new deaf student. One lady told us about a boy in her church who always misbehaves, but it is because he is deaf and can’t talk to anyone, so she took it upon herself to learn to communicate with him, which I commend. There were a few other reasons, but the point was that a class of 25 or so people were there to learn.
And learn we did! Or at least I did. I had zero signing experience, but now I can make a few simple sentences, mostly relating to family. I also know the alphabet, so I can spell things out if need be (albeit slowly). And the great thing is, I can practice anytime! Driving with one hand, drifting off to sleep, even signing to myself at work. I don’t seem as much of a crazy person when I’m not practicing a spoken language, so there’s that too. I still remember everything I learned, and I think I am picking it up pretty quickly. So, add another one to the list of languages I’ve got under my belt.