American Sign Language: Speaking Without Your Voice


Students playing a spelling game in sign language.

Mariana Rule

American Sign Language is one of the many world languages that is offered here at South Windsor High School. The majority of students tend to take either French or Spanish since those are the only two languages offered in middle school. Sign language is an alternate option to students that do not wish to continue in one of those languages. ASL is a very complex language with its own grammar rules. The class teaches how to do the physical signs in addition to Deaf culture and history.

Ms. Eddy has been teaching the class for three years now and hopes to continue. She wishes to “possibly have ASL 2 offered as a course here as well. I love teaching the class and I think that another level would get more kids to sign up.” She has a degree in deaf studies from a previous occupation and has been taking courses to further her fluency in ASL at Northwestern Connecticut Community College.

Many students decide to take ASL instead of other languages because it is a new area of interest for them. Many people say they want to learn a new language but struggle because exact translations are hard to come by. Junior, Mason Haley, decided not to take Spanish again this year. Haley took ASL and finds it “Much easier to pick up since signs relate to the words they stand for.” The overall understanding of the language is easier for students to comprehend.

Senior, Kaylee Correnti, wanted to take up another language in her high school career. Correnti has already taken Latin and Spanish. Correnti’s entire family knows sign language and she wanted to “find out what they were saying in front of her.” She finds it much easier to learn since the “signs actually make sense. There isn’t a bunch of conjugations to memorize and special rules.” 

The students that take sign language are gaining a new skill that could be beneficial in the future. There are many careers that use sign language in some sense. The skill could also be used in everyday life to communicate with many people. The number of kids that take sign language is not very high but those that do take it encourage others to sign up for the class, especially those that struggle with languages.