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CSULB’s linguistics department now offers new sign language program

Students of all majors can now minor in sign language.

Haley Martinez, Staff Writer

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Cal State Long Beach students interested in expanding their linguistic knowledge will now have the opportunity to learn sign language through a new program being offered through the school.

Barbara LeMaster, the new director for the American Sign Language in Linguistics and Deaf Cultures worked with linguistics faculty Wanette Reynolds and Rezenet Moges-Riedel to cultivate and offer this program to students.

“I think it is necessary to learn sign language because you never know when you will come across someone like that,” Jocelyn Palacio, a pre-speech pathology major said. “I feel like it would be good for me to learn, because if I were to get a deaf patient during my career it would be beneficial to both me and the patient.”

CSULB was initially inspired by Cal State Northridge’s sign language program, as it was CSUN’s linguistic department who offered the program first.

“Our dean went out to CSU Northridge and they thought it was a great idea to bring the program here to CSULB,” LeMaster said. “CSUN typically receives around 60 to 90 applications [for the program], so that gives us an idea on what we can expect.”

This program opened this fall and is being offered to all incoming students.

Any student can minor in ASL and deaf cultures, however in order for students to major in sign language they must be chosen by the directors of the program.

The ASL linguistics and deaf culture major consists of 50 units in 12 required courses, while the minor consists of six required courses.

With a total of 20 to 21 units, four of the these can overlap as general education units.

The ASLD minor requires six classes minimum and is open to any and all majors.

These options will offer students the basics in sign language.

“We have been offering ASL one and two under linguistics for a while now,” LeMaster said. “As stakeholders we would discuss what this should look like. We want students to have a basic in linguistics. [The] Bachelor degree is open to anyone, we just ask them to take ASL one and ASL two.”

The B.A. option in ASL- English Interpreting is only offered to juniors and seniors.

Applicants must fill out a form and be accepted into CSULB to be considered,

after applications are reviewed, only 20 to 25 students are accepted. While space is limited, LeMaster encourages students to apply.

“This year we have about nine students enrolled, since not a lot of people know about the new program,” Leemaster said. “We run on a budget of only $500 a year. Although with such a tight budget, we were able to upgrade the software and [buy] new desks for the Language Labs building.”

All students can benefit from the new improvements, located in the language labs building where language tutoring, individual and group learning and collaborative classroom space is offered.

“I think this new program is cool, I like that there [are] a lot of options to major and minor in,” Katherine Ramirez, sophomore pre-nursing major said. “I also think it’s cool that you only need to take six classes to minor in it. I’m all for it, I like that this actually exists. I’m sure there are people who look into this and want to major or minor in it.”

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