Dual enrollment agreement with West Valley brings ASL to the school next fall

June 1, 2023 — by Amy Luo
Graphic by Amy Luo
Students are looking forward to learning sign language.
American Sign Language (ASL) will be an opportunity to fulfill world language credits with accessibility and convenience to students.

West Valley’s American Sign Language (ASL) course will, for the first time, be a dual enrollment course next school year, allowing students to earn high school, college and world language credit. 

Beginning in early September, ASL 60-A will be taught on the SHS campus, open to all LGSUHSD students in grades 10-12. The class, taught by professor Tracy Meng, will be held on Mondays and Wednesdays from 3 to 5:50 p.m.

The beginner friendly course will teach students visual gestural language, finger spelling, vocabulary and modeling of basic grammatical structure. Students can choose between receiving a pass-fail or letter grade.

Previously, all community members were able to take the course, which was held on campus in afternoons after school. Usually, 20 to 30 people attended the class each semester, but only five to 10 of them were SHS students; however, because the semesters would sometimes see low enrollment, the course has not been consistently offered in the past decade. According to guidance counselor Brian Safine, ASL sign ups for the next school year are looking to be around 20 students.

Students earn the world language credit needed for graduation through this course, and Safine reports that students — especially upperclassmen — who are new to language learning see ASL as a suitable choice, since all students, regardless of skill level, attend the same class. Students may also appreciate the more hands-on nature of ASL, Safine said. 

Junior Paul Hulme took the ASL class last fall and said it was an unusual educational experience. The class was taught solely in sign language, and the instructor wrote on whiteboards for guidance and spoke only after class.

“I joined ASL because one semester meant the same amount in language credits as two semesters of a more traditional high school [language] class,” Hulme said. “Also, if I ever wanted to communicate with a person who is hard of hearing, it would be useful to have some knowledge of ASL.”

Students with personal connections, such as friends or family in the hearing-impaired community, often attend the course to better support their loved ones and bridge the communication gap.

“ASL really is a great option for students who are interested in learning how to communicate through sign language,” Safine said.

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