Can freshmen enroll in ASL?

Emma Rose Olsen, Copy Editor and Social Media Manager

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American Sign Language, also known as ASL, was introduced to Reagan in 2016. ASL began with only a small group of students in the first level of the class. 

 There are four different levels of the class with 113 students total in the program. ASL III and IV are honors credit classes.

Lauren Bailey is the only ASL teacher at Reagan. She graduated from the University of North Carolina Greensboro in 2014.

Bailey fell in love with the language when she first started taking it in high school as an extra language. She then decided to stick with it and chose to major in Professions and Deafness with a concentration in ASL Teacher Licensure. 

Like Bailey in high school, most students start off with foreign language courses as freshmen. Most colleges require two foreign language courses. ASL is uncommon in many school systems, so it is a popular class to register for.

Freshmen do have the choice to take ASL but many do not sign up for it because there is a slim chance that they will get into the class. This is because upperclassmen have priority when choosing their language because they need the credits sooner than freshmen. 

“Freshmen have always been allowed to take ASL, but the issue is that so many kids sign up for the class that the counselors end up dropping freshmen first because they can take the class later on,” said Bailey.

There are only two freshmen enrolled in an ASL class currently. Bailey hopes that this number will grow for future years. Starting as a freshman in an ASL I class can allow students to continue the visual language for four years. This enables students to be completely fluent in the language by the time they leave high school.

“If I have to be honest, my favorite class level to teach is probably my upper level kids because I can experiment with their classes and really test their skills,” Bailey said.

ASL is a great language to have under your belt because you never know when you might need to communicate with the Deaf community. Most Americans are not very cultured with the language and do not understand it, therefore they seem disrespectful towards it.

Just like other verbal languages, in order to master the skills of Sign Language you must practice. Most languages you can usually practice with a family member, but not ASL. Most parents don’t understand or know Sign Language so teacher videos are the best way to learn.

“I just want kids to know that it is a very hands-on kind of class,” said Bailey. “And to really be open to trying something new with a visual language.”