HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — The Harlingen Public Library offers a beginner American Sign Language (ASL) class to teens every second and fourth Tuesday of the month.
The class will be a self-guided study to teach the fundamental basics of ASL. It will include a PowerPoint presentation that will go over things teens have expressed interest in or the instructor believes to be important to group into the class.
The class is set up to be a collaborative atmosphere where teens can share personal experiences, make new friends, and gain skills to help them study ASL on their own.
“If they’re out somewhere and they see somebody is struggling to communicate at a business where maybe no one who works there knows ASL, maybe they can help out a little bit,” said Youth Services Librarian, Erin Smith.
Smith added that ASL is just as important as other languages. “Spanish is pretty wide-reaching here in our community down in the Valley and there are people who come into the library who only speak Spanish, and so maybe we need to know Spanish to speak with them, same thing with ASL.”
Sign language is not a universal language as each country has its own rules for grammar and syntax.
The shape, placement, and movement of hands all play an important role in conveying information. A person’s body language also ties into how the message is conveyed emotionally. Like all languages though, ASL is a living language that will evolve and change over time.
The last ASL class for teens in September will be on the 21st from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The class will be offered in-person in the teen room at the Harlingen Public Library as well as through Zoom.
Smith said that the library is always looking to add more educational classes, so if you’re not eligible for the teen class, she suggests reaching out to the library with your interest in ASL so that they can look into opening more for different age groups.