Whew! Last night I had my very first ASL class – sponsored by Olay – and let me just say that I was definitely taken to school. My dear, dear, sister convinced me that I knew enough ASL to skip the beginner level class and start with ASL II.
Alas, she was mistaken.
We spent last night’s class “reviewing” the first twelve modules that her students had learned last semester. And by review, I mean flying through dozens and dozens of slides with the instructor asking the class to demonstrate the signs, hand shapes and concepts on each slide, and then breezing right along to the next one.
I should have started by saying that the instructor is deaf and uses only ASL to communicate with the students. It was both terrifying and at the same time, just what I needed. I managed to not make a complete fool of myself by reaching in the way back of my mind to recall signs that Lisa had taught me over the years and, doing a lot of fingerspelling. My biggest blunder of the night was probably when I (poorly) communicated that I was there to learn ASL because my babysitter was deaf. It took at least 5 minutes before I realized my goof-up. But no one laughed at me – a good sign (pun intended).
All in all though, it was a great evening. While I have a lot of studying to do, I realized that I did know a respectable amount and I really benefited from understanding the concepts that form ASL. The instructor was very patient and took her time demonstrating the application of the concepts with objects from the classroom and even showing us two very different interpreters signing the national anthem at the Superbowl.
What impacted me the most though was realizing how exhausted I was after spending two hours trying to understand and communicate in a language that was foreign to me. I told my husband on the way home that, if that was the way my sister feels after trying to read lips and stay in the conversation at Christmas dinner, I seriously understand her frustration.
Until next week!