New sign language class with high student interest

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New sign language class with high student interest

Photo by Wire Stock Photo

Photo by Wire Stock Photo

Photo by Wire Stock Photo

Gary Leverton, Higher Education Reporter

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In Marquette’s new class, talking is not the communication tool of choice.

This is the first year that Introduction to Sign Language classes are being offered and students from multiple majors are enrolled in them.

“We started with two sections this year and both filled up the first day,” said Linda Crowe, department chair of Speech Pathology and Audiology.

Crowe said the enrollment rate is likely due to students’ general interest in sign language, as well as benefits the class provides to their future careers.

“I think students see it as advantageous,” Crowe said. “This class allows them to communicate with the deaf culture.”

The university is not certain about the future of the class, which Crowe said counts as a language credit for Speech Pathology & Audiology majors only.

Jean Verdaguer, a junior in the College of Health Sciences, said her professor makes the class more interesting.

“We only had an interpreter for the syllabus,” Verdaguer said. “The rest of the class so far has been on our own. No talking, no whispering – just using gestures to communicate. It completely immersed us in the deaf culture.”

Verdaguer said the class allows her to understand the appropriate way to approach and communicate with a deaf person.

Joe Tomaselli, a senior in the College of Business Administration, said he’s taking the class to fill a business elective.

“I had already taken Spanish so I didn’t need to fill the language requirement,” Tomaselli said. “I really just took it to fill that elective.”

Tomaselli is in the same section, and he said the class is different compared to his business classes. They’ve learned easy letters and shapes so far.

“The first couple of classes we didn’t know any sign language so we have to show expression in our faces or point to things to explain what we meant,” Tomaselli said. “It is very similar to silent acting.”

Verdaguer said, even if she wasn’t a Speech Pathology major, she would still take the class.

“It is different than other languages,” Verdaguer said. “It is nothing like any other language you can take.”

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