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Sign your way into conversation: Take MTSU’s...

Sign your way into conversation: Take MTSU’s American Sign Language lessons this spring

 If you’ve ever been accused of “talking with your hands,” you can learn a more useful way to communicate at MTSU this spring.

MTSU’s first American Sign Language class, conducted in fall 2018, was such a success that it’s being offered again for this semester. The Center for Accelerated Language Acquisition will present American Sign Language, Part 1, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. each Wednesday beginning Jan. 16 through Feb. 27 in Room 106 of the Paul W. Martin Honors Building. The registration deadline is Tuesday, Jan. 15, and space is limited. 

The course is open to MTSU students, staff, faculty, alumni and the public.

Part two of the class is set Wednesdays beginning March 13 through April 24. The registration deadline for ASL Part 2 is Tuesday, March 12.

American Sign Language instructor Haley Jensen offers some ASL instruction in a fall 2018 class offered by MTSU’s Center for Accelerated Language Acquisition as students watch and listen. CALA is offering an ASL Part 1 and Part 2 course this spring. (Photo by Enrique Geronimo/MTSU Sidelines)

American Sign Language instructor Haley Jensen offers some ASL instruction in a fall 2018 class offered by MTSU’s Center for Accelerated Language Acquisition as students watch and listen. CALA is offering an ASL Part 1 and Part 2 course this spring. (Photo by Enrique Geronimo/MTSU Sidelines)

Fees for each seven-week course are $145 for the public; $130 for MTSU faculty, staff and alumni; and $110 for MTSU and high school students. To register, go to www.mtsu.edu/cala.

Haley Jensen, owner of the ASL instruction company “Voice Off,” again will be the instructor.

Jensen was trained last summer in CALA’s teaching method of Total Physical Response, an instruction process that engages students in storytelling to help them absorb the language. The instructor and students interact with the new vocabulary through hands-on activities.

Jensen said students will learn the alphabet, numbers, body parts, clothes, colors, places in the house, feelings, greetings, and several other high-frequency words and phrases. She said ASL learners will become more aware of facial expressions and emotions because they won’t be able to rely on vocal inflection to communicate.

“You can do the exact same signs, but your face tells you whether it is a statement, a question or exclamation,” Jensen said.

Dr. Shelley Thomas, professor of French, Department of World Languages, Literatures, and Culture; director and founder of the Center for Accelerated Language Acquisition

Dr. Shelley Thomas

The ASL class began at MTSU after Eric Workman, vice president and director of interpreting services at Bridges for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Nashville, contacted the university. Dr. Shelley Thomas, founder and director of CALA and a professor of French in MTSU’s Department of World Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, was receptive to the idea.

“The reason they approached me was … the reputation of CALA for engagement, fun, success and good student feedback,” Thomas said.

While the CALA classes are noncredit courses taken solely for educational enrichment, Thomas said CALA classes frequently inspire students to enroll in foreign language classes in her department.

“Language acquisition is easy, fun, quick and extremely motivating,” Thomas said. “People experience a lot of success within five days. They’re starting to read a novel. That makes them feel amazing. From there, they want to take an MTSU class for credit.”

For more information, contact Thomas at 615-898-5757 or acceleratedacquisition@gmail.com.

— Gina K. Logue (gina.logue@mtsu.edu)


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