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The Sign Language Class
A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts

I entered the classroom and saw that the professor was already seated behind her desk at the front of the room. A message on the chalkboard read, “Welcome to Sign Language 101! Please take a handout and begin reading.” I followed its instructions as the rest of my classmates filed into the room.

At the start of class, the professor stood up and motioned to get our attention. Silently, she made a sign that I recognized from the handout. “Good morning,” her hands said to us. She motioned for us to repeat after her. The professor circulated the room, making small corrections in how we held our hands or nodding her head in approval. When she came to me, I carefully repeated the sign: “Good morning!” “Excellent work!” her facial expression silently said to me. “She must be deaf herself,” I thought.

The class continued in this same manner, without a word spoken by the professor or anyone else. The next class was the same, as was the class after that. Little by little, we learned the basics of communicating with the deaf and hard of hearing. We did so without once using our voices.

On the last day of class, we took our final exams, then prepared to leave. Our professor motioned for us to wait. All at once, she broke the silence that had lasted an entire semester. “Learning a new language,” she said, “requires total commitment.” The class looked up in shock.

“As long as you are able to rely on your spoken words, you’ll never be able to master sign language. That is why I took that option away from you at the beginning of the semester. As a result, each one of you has shown incredible progress. I am proud of your work, and I hope that you are too.”


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