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Teaching of Sign Language

Teaching of Sign Language

Hearing people have a lot to offer to the deaf when it comes to language, such as the teaching of sign language, proper English, ways to communicate effectively, and much more. What they don’t realize is that deaf people can indeed return the favor. For instance, one could say that the majority of deaf people acquitted their knowledge of sign language from a hearing teacher. There are times where, after being taught, deaf people would give their teachers little cues that allow them to communicate with them more effectively.

Helen E. Meador, in her article, tells of several encounters with deaf students. In one of her many experiences, she explains how she learned to sign what she means in order ensure that her students understood what she meant, not what she signed. In one of her classes, for example, she was reading them a book and upon completion, asked them to close their books and to her amazement, they didn’t. When inquiring why they didn’t do as told, one of her students told her that she didn’t say it like she meant it, since her eyebrows weren’t raised. This clearly showed that the deaf not only relied on signs to communicate, but also facial expression. After this incident she learned to use more facial expression to ensure that her students understood what she meant while she communicates with them.

In another encounter, Meador learned to be creative with her signing. In one of her reading classes, after completing a short story, she asked the class their opinion of the story. One student replied, “2-4-8”. Puzzled, Meador asked the student what she meant and the student told her that it simply meant, “very interesting”. That day, Meador learned to use sign language at a different level.

One of the many things Meador learned from the deaf was language tolerance. In one situation a deaf student taught her the visual mode of communication. She tells of a teacher who experienced a communication breakdown one day. She was asking a student, in English, to turn off the lights in the classroom. Although she signed English, she left out words by only signing, “turn, out, light.” The student astonished her by exiting the door and turning outward where the light switch was. The teacher thought this was peculiar, but then realized that her student did what she signed, not what she said.

In conclusion, Meador explains that in order to better our communication with the deaf, we must learn to “communicate in the eyes of a deaf person”. By doing this, we will obtain a wide variety of information on language usage and effectiveness.

This article, in my opinion was one of the best I’ve ever read. I’m a deaf student, but there are some things about the deaf that I never knew and I learned them by reading this article. I know that there’s a lot more about deaf culture that I have to learn and hopefully I’ll learn them soon.


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