This semester we got to pick our own independent learning project that we would work on for hours throughout the semester. For my independent learning project I chose to learn ASL, or American Sign Language. As I stated when I began, my initial inspiration for this came from a television series called Switched at Birth. Check it out, it’s pretty interesting. I also came a cross a beginning video to sign language and I was hooked. This first day I learned basic signs to everyday things and it felt really cool to know these.
I actually Googled “learning sign language” to find more videos like these and learn more. I was directed to this link and low and behold, there was the first sign language video I watched. The site was an online course to sign language with an instructor and other people to collaborate with. I found it strange at first, watching the videos, because there was absolutely no sound at all. At first I thought it was my speakers and turned the volume up, but no. I knew there had to be some sound because I could see the people in the video laugh sometimes or know there should be noise. This frustrated me at first because it is so unusual. Even when people are not speaking in a video there would be background noise, ruffling, or music. No, nothing. This was purposeful and I came to the conclusion that it must have been for a better learning experience. Why do we need to hear when we are learning a language that people who can’t hear use? I found myself more focused on the signs and more aware of my learning of hand placement and such. Throughout the semester the silence did not bother me anymore. In fact, when there were things going on around me I got more distracted.
Through this independent learning project I learned a bit about myself. I learned that, my ability to hear is a privilege not a necessity. I have learned so much about the deaf community and how anywhere you go you make friends. A lot of people who are deaf would say that they would not give up this sense of community and language to be able to hear. I also learned that we, “hearing people,” do not have it easier. Being deaf isn’t considered a disability or challenging to deaf people. It is a lifestyle. Their life would not suddenly become easier if they were able to hear, they have similar problems to hearing people. When interacting, it is the same as speaking to someone of a different language it just takes patience.
In my future as an educator I will more than likely have a deaf or hearing-impaired student in my classroom. By learning sign language I can include this student more in the classroom. If I continue learning, I can become almost fluent and be able to help this student one-on-one.
It was difficult motivating myself to watch a computer for hours, but very rewarding afterward. It gets tiring; sitting hunched over a laptop and staring at a screen while trying to learn a new language. I have admitted that this has been the most challenging, learning through a screen. Many things get missed or misunderstood because I am not able to see exactly what is going on and the explanations of some sign were just too confusing. It would have been much better had I learned in person rather than a screen. However, after each session I always learned something new. Whether I learned a new sign or finally mastered another sign. I also feel empowered. As I previously said, deaf people are proud. They are not ashamed of being deaf and embrace who they are all the better. I felt this when learning sign language, and I loved this feeling. This experience has been the most rewarding and it will be nice to get to be able to use it one day.
Sign for finished