Students Pass Their Sign Songs

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Students Pass Their Sign Songs

Ethan Hosler, Copy Editor

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American Sign Language (ASL) students are relieved after sign song presentations passed at the end October. Students practiced their projects to prepare for their final presentation in front of the class.

Sign songs are projects in which students translate a song of their choice into sign language to present for the class, and are the most common way that students practice their translation skills at Emerald Ridge. Jessica Mattson, one of the ASL teachers at Emerald Ridge, enjoys watching her students present their own translations.

“I think that being able to combine ASL with hearing things such as music is important for students to learn how to translate,” Mattson said. “But it’s also fun to see how they combine those two different worlds.”

ASL students do not perform sign songs until their second year. Most of the projects first-year students do are aimed toward conversation with people and reciting stories, rather than translating songs from scratch.

“You have to give [the students] time to learn vocabulary and understand the concepts before you have them translate songs,” Mattson said. “Because almost all songs are full of metaphors.”

Although sign songs can make many students a bit nervous, they can also prove to be very fun for some. Sign songs give students the opportunity to use their imagination and creativity to display the concepts behind the lyrics in a visual way.

“Sign songs help me understand the song on a deeper level,” senior ASL II student Mitch Nguyen said.

For students, sign songs can cause both anxiety and excitement. Presentations of any kind can make many people anxious.

“I don’t like having to stand in front of everyone – it makes me nrvous,” senior ASL student Keirsten Ferrin said, “but I love getting to express myself.”

ASL students perform sign songs multiple times a year, and each performance is recorded so that they can view their progress throughout the years. One of the main mottos in the ASL classrooms is “Show, Don’t Tell,” meaning that displaying the concept or meaning in a visual way is much better than telling the concept word for word, which is an idea that is at the core of the language itself.


“I progressed by learning how to show the story of the song,” senior ASL IV student Alicia Boyd said, “I love being able to figure out the story and finding creative ways to translate in into signs.”

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