Ripley High School now has an American Sign Language class. Sophomore Daneah Patton was one of the first students to show interest and ask administrators how to start a new class at the school.
American Sign Language is a visual language that is spoken through hands and facial expressions. This language is used by many deaf or hard of hearing people. However, even hearing people can use it.
This class is offered through WVU-Parkersburg as a college credit class. Students can get high school along with the college credit for taking it. However, there is a fee for the course since it is through WVU-Parkersburg, just like any other college class. It is intended for upperclassmen.
Tina Holley, a counselor, says the class can also be replaced a two year foreign language class such as Spanish or French, which is required for college admission.
Senior Caleb Bailey is taking the ASL class. He says he learns at a quickly pace and can easily pick up the signs.
“[The reason why I took this class is because] my parents taught me sign language when I was younger. I lost touch with it over the years and I wanted to pick it up again.” says Bailey.
Another senior, Peyton Hardy, loves the experience that is given in the class. “It’s not like you get to class and just take out your MacBook and start working. It’s a very visual class.”
When one is signing, the brain processes linguistic information through the eyes. Signing words, moving facial expressions, or using hands to gesture out the story. It has specific rules for grammar and syntax. There are challenges that deaf people have compared to hearing people such as childhood struggles, language difficulties, education, and more.
Hardy is a visual learner. She feels like she can comprehend the language and doesn’t struggle at all. She says that the only way to learn is to watch the teacher teach you.
“You’re surrounded by the culture, surrounded by the language. It’s the best way to learn,” says Hardy as she mentions that the teacher is deaf.
Students have talked about the teacher, Scott Hottle, and his methods of teaching. It is known that signing is enforced in the classroom and there is no voicing. He says it is to help the students learn in a better environment and make less distraction. Hottle is also very active in the community, from teaching ASL to having deaf coffee chats at the New Life Church in Ripley.
“This class gives you benefits on learning a new language and gives you an opportunity to be able to communicate to one another in a different way. I also think it gives benefits to those who struggle in verbal foreign languages and it’s a better way to use your hands rather than talking,” sophomore Daneah Patton says.
“[So far,] we’ve learned the alphabet, basic signs, the five parameters of ASL, and vocabulary.” Patton said.
She agrees that it is a very great experience.
“[Mr. Hottle] is very patient with us. When we don’t understand something, he would go over it again with us.”
Students are excited to have this course as an option here. Some are already talking about taking it again next year for ASL 1 and maybe even ASL 2, if it happens.