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Deaf or Not-Deaf: Who is the More Qualified ASL Teacher?

Posted Aug 24 2008 6:39pm

Ahhh. Finally, a really GOOD weekend. I've been meaning to respond to the comments left on my post about's oversight in posting Karen Putz's Blog on Rachel Coleman's Emmy Nomination . I'm kind of proud of myself because my first reaction was to "go off" regarding the importance of Signing Time for hearing mothers of deaf children. Then, strangely, I took a moment to actually reflect on the commenters' perspectives. These were the two comments that I found thought-provoking:

Deaf258 said...

Not to be a downer or anything.. But why do people honor hearing people and not Deaf when it comes to ASL products for the public?

There is something wrong with the picture.

g l said...

I'm a little puzzled... I've long been familiar with Signing Time and have always thought the great show was for hearing siblings and hearing parents. How do we classify it as deaf-centric, which is what the main page is intended for?

I know can use criticism now and then, but I'm not convinced this is a constructive example. is evolving with the addition of many new voices of parents getting more and more involved in the Deaf Community by means of these blogs. The Pediatric Cochlear Implant Circle and Listen-Up yahoo support groups constantly earmark interesting discussions on a variety of controversial blogs. Rachel Coleman is important for hearing parents of Deaf children and...the driving force behind "Deaf-Centric" from what I understand, is the desire for Every Deaf Child to learn ASL as their "native tongue."

This idea of "native tongue" is what stopped me from ranting and caused me to think. You see, I am a Mother-Tongue English Teacher here in Italy and I have seen many an Italian teacher MASSACRE English while teaching innocent young Italians MY language. I am convinced that the only person qualified to teach English is, in fact, a Native Speaker.


Some "Mother-Tongue" English teachers are just not good teachers. Teaching is not an ability that a University can teach you, you are either born with it or you are not. It's all about passion and reaching students. A quality Italian English Teacher who really knows the English language well can actually be a better English teacher than a Mother-Tongue teacher, because she truly understands the subtleties and problematic areas of both languages enabling her to better explain and anticipate her students' potential areas of difficulty.

Rachel Coleman is one of these passionate teachers. No, she is not Deaf, but she teaches a rockin' mean introduction to ASL that is reaching the mainstream population. Isn't that the fundamental dream of a Deaf-Centric

PS...Monkey-boy Christian (an avid watcher of Signing Time) has just learned to say..."Elmo!" Love that boy!

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