Foreign languages usually require speaking or the use of one’s voice. However, there’s a whole other language out there that’s not based on any sort of verbal interaction and is instead based on visuals and expressed through manual features: ASL. ASL has been seen as a foreign language since 1997. Seven Lakes offers both a class and a club for those interested in learning the special language. 

Mrs. Ruth is the teacher of the ASL class and club at SLHS, and her students have lots of praise for her. Her kind attitude is said to go a long way in helping the students learn the language. 

“We learn about different signs and about deaf culture and sign with each other to learn about interactions using ASL,” Mrs. Ruth said. 

Since ASL is a little different from verbal communication, there are different tips for learning and teaching it.

“The number one thing I’d say helps a lot is just using the language,” Mrs. Ruth said. “Go voice off and use the signs you know to get comfortable with them. Slowly start to progress into learning more signs and repeat the process. So I’d say just get comfortable with the signs.”

Mrs. Ruth said she loves seeing her students feel comfortable enough to use signs with voice off. 

“When they feel they can do that, they are ready to go into the community and put what they learned into practice,” Mrs. Ruth said. “So for me as a teacher I love seeing all their hard work pay off and seeing the interactions between the students and community. I’ve heard multiple times that students come to the class and talk about the conversations they’ve had with people from the deaf community and that makes me happy.”            

Freshman Hudson Shivers is taking ASL 1 and is a member of the after school club for ASL.

“ASL is always a good time mostly, because it’s something I’ve made a passion in my life,” Shivers said. “So I have a positive mindset, but the people who have helped me are people that I enjoy. Mrs. Ruth is always a great help in class and our conversations are amazing. She does a great job guiding us through learning about ASL.”

Shivers said he had many different reasons to learn ASL. 

“I saw it as something different and started with the “why not” attitude because there’s no reason not to at least try,” Shivers said. “But an influence was my grandma who knows some sign language. I saw an opportunity to learn from her to get the basic knowledge of different signs and what context to use some signs. So, I give a lot of credit to my grandma for helping me and teaching me.”

From a student’s perspective, the club is a lot of fun. 

”It’s somewhere where I can use my ASL skills, and get better,” Shivers said. “Sure I can sign at home, but no one there understands the signs so they can’t help much if I need it. And like I said before, Mrs. Ruth is such a great teacher. She is extremely kind and helpful for anything you need. She guides the club so well and really allows us to use the skills to the best of our abilities. The club is such a fun place for everyone interested in ASL. Even if you didn’t take the class, you can show up and learn a bit from the club. Now I’d recommend the class as well, but the club and its members are always willing to help.”

Even with a voice off language, the students of Mrs. Ruth couldn’t have sang their praises of her and her class any louder. Many lessons can be learned from teachers such as Mrs. Ruth. When you teach from your heart with kindness you are able to further light a student’s passion in ways they didn’t even know were possible.