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Trojan Tribune

The student news site of Alisal High School

Trojan Tribune

The student news site of Alisal High School

Trojan Tribune

Why doesn’t Alisal offer ASL?

Students need to request the class first
In+her+ASL+2+class+ASL+teacher+Patty+Killough+signs+look+at+me+to+get+their+attention%2C+as+some+of+the+students+were+not+paying+attention+%28on+phones%2C+talking%2C+etc.%29.+As+the+language+is+visual%2C+students+must+have+their+eyes+on+me+in+order+to+receive+the+message%2C+she+said.+They+are+unable+to+simply+listen+while+doing+something+else.
Amy Davila
In her ASL 2 class ASL teacher Patty Killough signs “look at me” to get their attention, as some of the students were not paying attention (on phones, talking, etc.). “As the language is visual, students must have their eyes on me in order to receive the message,” she said. “They are unable to simply listen while doing something else.”

Every student is required to take a minimum of two years of a language in order to graduate – Spanish, French, or Japanese here at Alisal. While all of these choices are fine, one choice, American Sign Language (ASL), is only offered at Salinas and North Salinas.

ASL can be really helpful when it comes to communicating with deaf people. Based on an informal survey of 221 students, 61% said they would take an ASL class if it were offered. Junior Joan Godinez said, “I have an interest in languages and am set on mastering three languages before I die. I have considered the type of languages that I would like to learn and ASL is one of them.”

There are certain steps that need to be made for class to be scheduled. “We would have some sort of running list and then that list would be given to the admin for them to see the interest,” counselor Edith Nava said. “As well as them being able to find a teacher that would be able to teach the class.”

One of the main reasons why certain language classes, like ASL, are not offered to students is mainly because of the lack of teachers with the required credentials. “There is a shortage of credentialed ASL high school teachers and many open ASL teaching positions across the nation,” ASL teacher Patty Killough said. “A few years ago, SHS welcomed the DHH (Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing) program to their campus, and the DHH students were very happy to be on a signing campus,” she said. “A great deal of hearing students at SHS can communicate with DHH students thanks to the ASL classes.” 

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Killough, who teaches both level 1 and 2 of ASL, believes that it’s important that more schools offer ASL as a foreign language class. “The more schools that are able to provide this instruction, the more available access will be for Deaf people that utilize ASL,” Killough said. “Deaf people appreciate it when hearing people put forth effort to try to communicate with them, and learning ASL makes it that much easier.” ASL would not just be a way to improve students academic skills but also social skills, “Students that take ASL as a World Language also get the opportunity to make new friends, learn about another culture, and even communicate with other hearing people when it’s too loud to speak,” she said.

While Salinas High School is one of the few schools that offer ASL, Killough is pleased to teach this curriculum. “I’m very grateful to SHS for making this campus more inclusive through ASL classes,” she said. “I do wish, however, that there were additional ASL teachers within the district to collaborate with as do other teachers that share a subject.” 

In order for Alisal to offer the class, students would have to request it. If enough students wanted it, a teacher would have to be found, then the class could be scheduled. ASL offers an opportunity for students to be able to communicate with the DHH community and it could also open up job opportunities, as signing is now at the forefront of media events for sports, entertainment, and politics.

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