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American Sign Language Courses, First Attempt in Japan

The primary purpose of the Department of English Language Teaching (DELT) at Nagoya University of Foreign Studies (NUFS) is to develop students to become English language teachers in Japanese junior high or high schools. To fulfill the purpose, teaching only spoken English is not sufficient enough to have good English language teachers with broad multi-cultural views. Attention should also be drawn to a language without sound, that is, a sign language. Taking this into consideration, DELT offers three levels of American Sign Language (ASL) courses. This is a first among the departments of English language teaching at Japanese universities. DELT has chosen Boston in the U.S. for our students to study Deaf culture further as well as ASL itself. DELT students on completion of one semester of an introductory ASL course at NUFS will continue to study at Boston University joining the summer program developed by the Center for English and Orientation Programs (CELOP), the School of Education Deaf Studies at Boston University, and NUFS. Boston is the city Helen Keller called “the City of Kind Hearts,” and the school building where she studied still remains.


DELT hopes that our students learning ASL notice issues related to Deaf people, especially in term of human dignity, and realize the importance of communication with or without sound. Our students will gain an in-depth understanding of the Deaf community and find that deafness does not matter in mutual understanding and communication. The three levels of ASL courses at NUFS, introductory, intermediate, and advanced, and the summer program at Boston University will surely enrich the students’ lives, when our students realize even a simple sign of “Thank you” can make a Deaf person happy and smile.


About Mr. Danny Gong
Mr. Danny Gong, recommended by the Japanese ASL Signers Society in Tokyo, will teach two ASL courses at NUFS in 2008: introductory and intermediate. Mr. Gong, currently living in Osaka, is a Chinese American, born and raised in New York City by his deaf parents. ASL and English are his native languages. Mr. Gong is proud of being raised by deaf parents. After graduating from the State University of New York Purchase College in 2002, Mr. Gong attended an Interpreter Training Project at La Guardia Community College and received his Certificate in ASL interpretation in 2004. He is an enthusiastic young man aged 27, working on an action movie with ASL.


About Dr. Robert Hoffmeister
Dr. Robert Hoffmeister, Director of Programs in Deaf Studies at Boston University, has devoted his life to the development and diffusion of American Sign Language for more than forty years and has led Programs in Deaf Studies at Boston University to what it is today, affording his students genuine appreciation for Deaf people in the U.S. His program is the only undergraduate program in the U.S. that requires American Sign Language as the language of instruction and conversation. The introductory ASL course for NUFS students in the summer program at Boston University has been developed in consultation with Dr. Hoffmeister. Dr. Hoffmeister, affectionately known as Bob, is kind of a father of Boston Deaf programs. Bob likes sailing, watching sports programs on TV, and eating popcorn. Why don’t you participate in the summer program at Boston University and say hello to Bob, a man of passion and humor, in ASL? He will welcome you with a big smile and hug.


Featured links:
Boston University http://www.bu.edu/
Boston University Gallery Photos http://www.bu.edu/photo/gallery/index.html
CELOP http://www.bu.edu/celop/
Boston University Deaf Studies
http://www.bu.edu/sed/undergraduate/deafstudies.htm
http://www.bu.edu/sed/programsdeaf.htm

Contact person: Prof. Toshikazu Kikuchi (kikuchi at nufs.ac.jp)

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