Sign Language Classes
Many places in your town offer sign language classes. Some of the sign language classes you will find have a cost associated with them, but there are other places which offer free classes. Here are some suggestions on places to look to find sign language classes in your area.
Not all classes are as good as another. You need to evaluate your reason for learning signs and ultimate purpose in your pursuit of a new language. To become a professional interpreter you will need much more intense training than simply learning to communicate. However, taking a sign language class out of curiosity is a great way to meet new friends and learn about a new culture. Many classes offered through the programs mentioned below will be basic classes, but they will help you learn the fundamentals of sign language as you decide whether you want to make a career out of using sign language or just view it as a passion or hobby. Choosing more than one of these types of sign language courses will give you exposure to different teachers and styles of signing which will make you that much better as a receiver of sign language.
Sign Language Classes: College Courses
Finding sign language classes at a local community college is usually pretty easy. It depends on the level of classes and the reason the school is teaching as to whether these courses will teach you much. Some classes are no more than an introduction to basic signs while others are full courses for interpreters and educators. Many of these courses are taught by Deaf, professional interpreters or CODAs (Children Of Deaf Adults). However, sometimes sign language classes at a local college are taught by volunteers who may not be able to provide detailed instruction.
College sign language classes can range in difficulty from a casual once-a-week class to a full degree in Dactylology As someone looking for sign language classes for the first time, you will probably be pleased with a less intense, casual class than a degree in special education.
Sign Language Classes: Adult Education
Many school systems offer community adult education classes. These are once-a-week classes that are taught in the evening at a local junior high or high school. The cost of these classes are often low, asking the students to only pay enough for the materials and a small fee for the teacher. To find a local adult education program you can look in your newspaper or any community news publication. Your school system might have a web site dedicated to these adult education classes. Sometimes they are called continuing education classes.
These classes are almost always taught by volunteers who are not well paid. But the teachers are usually very passionate; teaching out of an interest in integrating the deaf and hearing communities. While some of these classes are taught by professional interpreters they are more often taught by CODAs, SODAs (Siblings Of Deaf Adults) and parents of deaf children. These are teachers teaching out of love for the community, not for the money.
Sign Language Classes: Deaf Club
The deaf club, or deaf association, in your area may offer sign language classes. These are almost always taught by Deaf. This is where you will learn more about deaf culture than in any other sign language class. You also may not learn as much vocabulary and these classes, but you will have a clearer understanding of how to use the vocabulary you do learn. You will also learn much more about the proper usage of the signs; which will help you with communication. Sign language classes taught at a deaf club can offer you more opportunities to practice your new language. These classes may be more useful after you've learned a good amount of sign language vocabulary from another class.
Sign Language Classes: Local church
A church in your area which advertises that they have a deaf ministry may offer sign language classes to the public. These classes are offered once a week and always taught by volunteers. The quality of these classes can vary wildly. Sometimes they are taught by professional interpreters who happen to be in the church ministry. Many times they are taught by people who have a passion to teach the Bible to the deaf community.
While the quality of teaching may vary wildly in a church ministry there is much less political motivation behind their sign language classes. Each of the options mentioned above have different methodological views on which form of sign language is best. Church ministries are less interested in formal education and political statements on which sign language method is the best and are more interested in getting their message across. They tend to be more balanced in "total communication" (the concept of communicating the message in any manner necessary to help the receiver understand).
Whichever type of sign language class you choose to attend, you will benefit by spending time in the deaf community and talking with your new deaf friends. The Deaf are more interested in helping new signers learn to communicate in their own personal way. If you show an interest in continuing to learn, the Deaf will continue to teach.