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If you teach sign language professionally, do you also do other work outside of sign?

I'm interested in sign professionally. How much do you care about sign? Is this something I would have to focus all of my attention on all the time? american-sign-language british-sign-language deaf-education

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John’s Answer

Hi Destiny,


There are many opportunities in the field of Deaf Studies/ASL/BSL/etc. As an individual I am 110% committed to this field and as a teacher I am 120% committed to my studies, practice, application, and of course my students. When you are in this field you need to be committed. Deaf Studies/ASL is a field about a group of people and you need to be aware about that fact. This is not a field about teaching numbers, I can make a mistake in teaching about 4x + 5 = 20 and then just say "Oops, I made a mistake." In this field we need to be prepared about everything and anything that happens in the community and in the field. We are dealing with people. If I tell my students, "It is okay to just make up signs" I am offending an entire group of people. I am not allowed to act nonchalant when I teach.


If you can't tell, I am passionate about this field and I do a lot of work outside of my classroom to prepare everyday. If you want to go into the education field you will need to do the same thing. The class does not end when the bell rings. The class ends at the end of the semester or at the end of the year. Even then you are never done learning.


If you want to become an interpreter, you are still going to have to continually study and practice your skills. Again your job does not end when the client goes home. You have other clients and sometimes you will need to prepare for these interpreting assignments. If you are going to present at a conference, you are going to want to contact the people presenting and get their information. You are going to have to study, figure out what is the best way to translate that phrase. You are always working, you are always improving your skills.


This field is just like all fields. You will always be working to improve yourself. I would not say you need to focus 100% of your time in this field, BUT you do need to give more than 85% of your time to successfully do well in this field. Teaching and interpreting are not fields to just do because "why not, I have nothing else to do". It is a field that requires commitment and hard work, just like all other fields out there.

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