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Sign Class Peeve

The person – one person, sitting across from me. 

Who is a nice person, a very nice person.  A smiling, friendly person, more so than me.  I think she wants to learn ASL so she can go teach deaf people in underprivileged places and not at all for blurry unfocused reasons like me.  AND she is so driven to learn, she repeats every sign she sees, over and over, entirely seriously, and looks so sad when she forgets one.

Just so you know.  She’s nice, and she’s good at signing, and she’s going to take whatever she learns and do good in the world. 

Just to establish her character... and mine in contrast, because SHE is the person I most want to strangle in all the world when I am sitting across from her most Monday evenings.


Because as the teacher signs to the class, this lovely fellow student TALKS right along.

Like I said, she’s good.  So the teacher will sign something like - “My car is grey and has four wheels and I love to drive it very fast.”

And this woman, out of all the people in the class sitting silently, will SAY out LOUD:  “CAR… GREY… FOUR… WHEELS… I LOVE… DRIVE… FAST!”  Not quietly, like some people:  right out loud.  And then be all happy that she figured the whole thing out – and clueless that nobody else is speaking. 

That we are not allowed to speak. 

That she has just defeated the entire purpose of taking a class in the first place:  to WATCH and learn from an actual instructor actually signing and expecting us to actually respond to her actual signs.

Strangle.  Strangle. 

I mean, who needs an interpreter for an ASL class???

Very frustrating.  I keep meaning to speak to her during the break, and then break time comes and mysteriously, I forget.  Her extreme do-gooding holiness must be keeping her safe from my petty wrath; that’s all I can figure. 

I sure hope she doesn’t sign up for the next level in the spring session.  Perhaps she’ll find another calling and decide to go walk earthquake dogs instead.


  1. Chill!

    Some people are kinesthetic learners, some people are auditory learners, and some people are visual learners. My guess is that person is somewhere between kinesthetic and auditory and she needs to say the words out loud (auditory and kinesthetic) in order for her brain to "get it".

    That said, I think you can approach the instructor privately and let her know it's really bugging you. Then the instructor could gently speak to her and suggest that she mouth or perhaps quietly whisper the words to herself if she must verbalize them. And, you can move where you sit, so you are not so close to her. I'm sure you will be much happier doing these steps than fuming every class time, and it would be the kind way to handle it with your classmate.

    I worked with deaf people, and I have to say it was the noisiest environment I ever worked in. Many deaf people verbalize the words or make other sounds as they sign them (many hearing people, too, BTW) and since they can't hear, they cannot regulate the volume.

    Deep breaths!

  2. Definitely need to chill, don't I?
    The truth is, this instructor HERSELF often speaks under her breath. I took a course with her before where I learned NOTHING because she was talking the whole time! In this course, she's been really good and hasn't been talking, which is partly why it bugs me that this student is.
    It's a small classroom and we all sit fairly close together; moving out of earshot is not an option.
    Hearing people, by the way, are generally cautioned that it's poor form to speak as you sign.

    Oh - and here's a point of trivia: when fingerspelling, mouth the WORD, not the LETTERS. Lipreaders won't follow if you say the letter names, but might if you say the word "cat" as you spell C-A-T. :-)


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