More universities opening Japanese Sign Language course as "second language"

ASL Class in Nagoya University in Aichi Prefecture
The students talk using sign language
with a Deaf lecturer Nozaki Shizue
(野崎静枝: right) in Rikkyo University in Tokyo.

May 29, 2014

The universities which teach sign language as one of the language studies are increasing in number little by little. The recognition of "sign language being language" serves as the background.

Rikkyo University located in Toshima-ku, Tokyo opened a course of "Japanese Sign Language" as one of the language elected subjects in 2010. The student of any faculty can take the course. A level is divided into four steps, and the fourth step puts focus on discussion, etc. A lesson is recorded for a  student to view and listen to it later. The video review is also supplied with the online system each time.

A junior student became a friend wit a Deaf person, and decided to take the course,  because she wanted "not only to lipread, but to communicate in sign language." She is learning through seeing the sign language news program also at home.

A sophomore was pulled to the concept of "studying sign language as language." She belongs to the international exchange club and is intent on "coming to like to be able to show around by sign language as a volunteer at the time of the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020."

It is said that the opinion that development of the manual communications skills that has been limited to a spoken language should be expanded" as a reason for opening a sign language course.

The course is adhered to acquisition of the visual language as "the Japanese Sign Language" which the Deaf community members use for conversation instead of the "signed Japanese" currently studied in the circle, etc.

Hosono Masako (細野昌子), an interpreter for Nozaki, says, "A student must learn away from the spoken Japanese rhythm and word order. The same passion as mastering other languages is required." There are some graduates who took the course became a flight attendant. Nozaki says, "I wish especially a Deaf school teacher studies Japanese Sign Language."

When Nagoya University of Foreign Studies in Nisshin-shi, Aichi Prefecture established a new English education course in 2008, it established the "American sign language" class at the same time, with three levels from the beginning class, the middle class, and an advanced class.

A lecturer Imamura Ayako (今村彩子) who is born deaf  and can speak, teaches the course for 90 minutes. She learned first American sign language at the age of 19 when she studied in the U.S. She says, "Various languages exist in the world, and a language called sign language is among them, which is different according to every a country. A view also spreads by getting to know the culture of the person using sign language."

Kwansei Gakuin University in Nishinomiya-shi, Hyogo Prefecture introduced sign language as language arts in the human welfare faculty in 2008. Freshmen and sophomore students require to take the sign language course positioned by one of the indispensable "second language." About 90 students are taking it for one year.

Shikoku Gaguin University in Zentsuji-shi, Kagawa Prefecture opens the Japanese Sign Language as one of the second requirement language arts, and the American Sign Language class for a summer intensive course.

Moreover, Kinjo Gakuin University in Nagoya-shi, Aichi Prefecture established the sign language interpreter training course for the first time in a four-year college in 2001.

Tottori Prefecture enacted the "Sign Language Ordinance" for the first time in Japan in 2013. The text book on sign language was distributed to schools, sign language is taught at hours of comprehensive learning, or the sign language interpreter is dispatched to the staff meeting of the Deaf school or the PTA meeting. The same ordinance was enacted even in Ishikari-shi, Hokkaido, and Matsusaka-shi, Mie Prefecture.

Special Support Education Associate Professor Iwata Yoshio (岩田吉生) of Aichi University of Education has indicated that opening a sign language course is increasing gradually at the university which is influenced by not only the change of such society but also more university and faculty in medical or welfare field increased as a background.

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