Free sign language classes help educate the hearing community

By Naomi Osuna
La Habra Journal

La Habra Church of Christ offers a free sign language class to the community every other Thursday evening.
Mary Lange, a freshman at Sonora High School, volunteers her time to teach this sign language class. When Lange first started teaching, about three months ago, she began with the letters of the alphabet and now they are starting to sign words along with letters.
According to Lange, as more people come they add more information and ask the class to contribute which topics they would like to learn about.
Standing at the front of the class, she demonstrates the hand gestures and finger placement as well as uses a power point presentation giving a more in-depth explanation of the sign language symbols.
Along with having a power point she also offers a print out of the power point for the students to take home and practice on their own to help master the language.
Every other Thursday she chooses a new topic or theme to teach in signing.
Lange teaches an interactive and hands-on class with the students, encouraging them to sign along with her as she teaches them. The students are eager to learn and the combination of visual and verbal demonstrations along with printouts to take home, make for a lasting knowledge of the language.
Her class has grown each week mainly by word of mouth, a testament to the young instructor.
Lange takes American Sign Language 1 at Sonora High School.
“The reason I offer classes is because I wanted to get more practice.” She explained.
By teaching the class it reinforces everything she’s learned and makes her a better and stronger student of sign language .
Educating others on sign language benefits the entire community.
“I think it’s nice for the deaf to feel like they are not such outcast,” Lange said,  “because if more people are learning sign language, they won’t feel as outcasts.”
Everyone is encouraged to join the sign language class, there is no prerequisite or age requirement and knowledge of sign language is not necessary.
Lange keeps printouts of previous classes for new students or for students who may need a refresher, making it an easy transition for a new student.
For more information you can go to their website coclh.org

Started in 1995, the La Habra Journal is an independent community news source serving the cities of La Habra and La Habra Heights.