The language I chose to take is American Sign Language (ASL). In the past, I have taken Spanish classes in high school and Chinese classes in college. Since one is an Indo-European language and the other isn’t, I did find the two learning experiences and methods to be quite different. While ASL is also a non-Indo European language like Chinese, I feel like ASL has characteristics that make it unique from both of my learning experiences with Spanish and Chinese. A few big differences that are noticeable during the very first class is that teaching is silent. The professor is deaf and teaches us through hand gestures, writing on the board, and making tapping sounds. Furthermore, the system of writing/reading/speaking is different in ASL than from other languages. Everything is gestured through the hands and face so the learning experience is very physical.
I hope that by the end of this semester, I will have learned enough ASL to hold a basic conversation with another ASL user and be able to advance my ASL skills on my own by participating in community ASL activities, such as ASL Cafe. I am very excited that SFSU had ASL classes to offer to students. I’ve always wanted to learn it and this was a perfect chance to get an introduction to the language.
One major strategy that I plan on using to help me learn is using the Internet. Since the ASL textbook cannot show me through fluid movements what certain words/phrases look like, I plan on using Internet ASL videos to help show me the signs when I forget after class. One thing that I’ve found to be difficult is that it is hard to “take notes” in this class. There is not much you can write, other than the list of daily vocabulary words. That sometimes makes it hard for a student to remember how to sign certain vocabulary words or sentences.
I hope that by taking this class, I will be refreshed on how it feels like to learn a second language and the gradual steps learners take to acquire a second language.