• Parents/Students FAQ’s

     

    What’s the best way to contact Mrs. Covington

    The best way to contact me is at rebekah.covington@sunnyvaleisd.com. You may also contact my videophone at 682-730-6439. This videophone is designed for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing people to communicate with hearing people through a sign language interpreter. This phone relay service does not charge you any additional fees unless you are making a long-distance call. Feel free to leave a message or email me directly.  The best time to call me is during my conference period on Mondays and Wednesdays during 1:00-2:00 p.m. 

     

    I am a parent who does not know ASL... how can I help my student study?

    That is an excellent question! I’m glad you asked! I warmly welcome your support for the student.  Since you might not know ASL, helping your student to study a language might seem difficult.  However, students have many access to materials that I distribute in the classroom. The best thing you could do is to ask students to sign vocabulary words back to you by referencing their unit vocabulary sheet. There are also online ASL videos with sign models that I share with students to study at home. Also, if possible, you can encourage your student to exchange contact information with another ASL student so they can video-chat and practice signing together outside of school. There are various free video-chat apps to choose from such as Glide, Facetime, Skype, and ooVoo, Tango, or Viber. Also, you can help your student by making sure they are prepared for what is coming up. Please encourage your child to pay attention to upcoming quizzes, project due dates, and tests dates. Students will always have an opportunity in class to review before test day.  They will have review sheets for tests, and rubrics for projects. 

     

    Is ASL easy to learn?

    Actually no, this is one of the most common assumptions that many students make. American Sign Language has an extremely, intelligent grammar system. It has rich, complex linguistic features that are difficult for people to acquire. Many spoken language are a linear system while American Sign Language have the ability to express two different ideas or more at once. The Defense Language Institute categorizes languages into four levels of difficulty for an English speaker to learn. Category I languages are easier to pick up, while moving on up through Category IV, language comprehension is more difficult.

     

    Category I languages include Spanish and French

    Category II includes German

    Category III includes Farsi and Hebrew

    Category IV includes American Sign Language and Chinese

     

    *Sources: Defense Language Institute, ASLTA and ASL TEKS (2014).

     
     
     Help! Someone told me ASL does NOT count for college... is this true!??!??’

    ASL does COUNT for college. American Sign Language is a true language with its own complex grammar structures, complex linguistic features, and so forth. The state of Texas, and most other states across the nation, recognizes ASL as a true language. HERE is the link with specific laws and for each of the states.   Also, here is the link that leads you to colleges that offer ASL classes: Universities that accept ASL 

    ANY state-funded program in Texas is required to accept ASL as a foreign language credit, even if they do not have an ASL program available at their university. Sometimes, students do not see it listed in their university's course-catalog and mistakenly interpret this to mean that a university does not accept ASL. 

     

    Is American Sign Language Universal?

    American Sign Language is not universal. There’s a sign language that belongs to each country just like any spoken languages. For example, there’s British Sign Language, Australian Sign Language, Chinese Sign Language, Taiwanese Sign Language, Spanish Sign Language, Saudi Arabian Sign Language, and so forth. You name it. Now, think about this… English do borrow many words from other languages. For example, the word “jalapenos” is borrowed from the Spanish language. American Sign Language borrowed some signs from French Sign Language. During the 1800’s, a man named Thomas Gallaudet met Alice Cogswell, a Deaf child. He realized that these people needed sign language. He travelled to Paris School for the Deaf in France to gather their resources. He met Laurent Clerc, a Deaf teacher who worked at the school. They both travelled together to America to establish the first American School for the Deaf in the 1817. By then, American Sign Language has emerged into a beautiful, living language. In 1864, Gallaudet University, the first and the only Deaf University in the world was established. Feel free to visit their website at www.gallaudet.edu

     

     

    So why can’t my child speak English in the classroom?

    American Sign Language and English have two different language systems and cannot function at the same time. The Deaf Community, ASL TEKS, ASL National Standards, and various other professional organizations has researched and proven the success of practicing signing without voicing English to be higher than those who use speech in the classroom. One of the major goals for an ASL class, is to learn how to use a three-dimensional language that belongs to Deaf people and their community. Interactions in Spoken English and American Sign Language at the same time will impede one’s learning process. Also, in Deaf Culture, it is culturally rude for other signers to talk in the presence of a Deaf person. A student attending a Deaf event while using voice can upset another Deaf person and issues may arises. This will help the classroom environment to feel like an authentic experience by using sign language only. Also, speaking in class may leave students open to suspicion of cheating. Even if the individual student is not attempting to cheat, many ASL teachers that I have spoken to from different school districts cannot always tell the difference between an innocent comment whispered to classmate and cheating. The teacher of the classroom may have to assume it is the latter and act accordingly. Also, voicing will distract and annoy other students who are trying to get accustomed to this visual language. Students are encouraged to concentrate on putting themselves in a visual-only mode, which will make it easier for students to process the tremendous amount of visual information that students will encounter in ASL classes. Every time a student talks, it makes it harder for the other students to maintain this visual concentration. Again, this should not intimidate students in the classroom. It’s not as scary as it sounds. This classroom is designed for learners. This classroom is designed for those who are learning American Sign Language as a second language. There are plenty of scaffolding activities and support cues in the American Sign Language’s classroom to support one’s learning.

     

    My child has taken two years of ASL and that means they are fluent, right?

    I will be pleased to know the depth of the student’s commitment to learn the language after two years. However, becoming fluent in language does require many years of study.  The Defense Language Institute categorizes ASL as a Category IV language. This means the student will need to take over 2,000+ class hours to learn the language at a level of language proficiency. Even if every single second of class were devoted to language learning, it still wouldn’t be enough. Language is something that spread forever. Language is always changing. Language is never frozen. If students wish to become fluent, they should pursue ASL courses in college or universities. Feel free to ask me about which colleges or universities that does offer ASL courses, degrees in American Sign Language, Deaf Education, or interpreting.

     

    Can my child interpret for another Deaf and/or Hard-of-Hearing person to earn extra money?

    Students should not under any circumstances take any interpreting jobs (paid or unpaid) without becoming a certified interpreter. This could get them into severe legal trouble. Students who wish to pursue a career in sign language interpreting should discuss with Ms. Farley to obtain more information on college-based training programs to help them achieve this goal after high school.