Instructor Highlight: Rebecca Funk, ASL

American Sign Language (ASL) is a natural language that serves as the predominant sign language of Deaf communities in the United States and most of English-speaking Canada. ASL is a complete and organized visual language that is expressed by facial expression as well as movements and motions with the hands.

How did you come to teach at TBCC?
I discovered Tillamook Bay Community College from American Sign Language Teacher’s Association’s employment opportunities page. I applied and was asked to teach ASL 101, 102, and 103. I was honored knowing that this is TBCC’s first time offering American Sign Language (ASL) courses. I taught ASL for 6 years in various settings.

What do you like best about teaching, and why?
For me, the best part of teaching ASL is hearing about how beautiful ASL and Deaf culture are and seeing students being able to communicate with their hands in a beautiful way.

What is your teaching philosophy?
My teaching philosophy is language immersion. To immerse yourself in a language from day one is to develop a new pool of vocabulary and to acquire an entirely new language and a culture.

Why do you think it is valuable for students to learn ASL from a person who is Deaf?
I think it is important for a person to learn ASL from a Deaf person whose language is native in ASL because a teacher like me understands that it is an entirely new language to hearing people. I can explain to my students about various things that they might encounter in the future such as regional signs or sign variants, and I can provide prompt and constructive feedback for students to improve their signing and their facial expression, which is an essential part of the language.

Tell us about your experience learning ASL.
My experience learning ASL has been a lifelong learning experience. I attended Oregon School for the Deaf. As a result, I learned ASL, Signed Exact English (which is a communication modality, not a language), and simultaneously communication (sim-com), which means talking and signing at the same time. Sim-com isn’t recommended because it hits the ceiling of the language development. ASL allows the language itself to flourish infinitly. I attended Chemeketa Community College where at the time they had a small college Deaf program, and I got to experience using interpreters at a college level. I also attended Western Oregon University using interpreters and taking classes where ASL was fully used. Last but not least, I also took graduate-level courses using both interpreters and classes that were fully offered in ASL.

Beyond academic, I keep up with Deaf culture and ASL studies to this day. I always learn new signs, sign variants, and how the latest barriers in the Deaf community have been removed and like to share this information with my students.

What advice do you have for TBCC students?
My advice for TBCC students is not to take the ASL course as an easy ride. It is hard just as any other language. My other advice is to stay on top of their coursework.

What do you like to do when you aren’t teaching?
When I am not teaching, I enjoy helping my daughter with her horse, reading, and going outdoors.

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