Thursday, January 15, 2009

JSL Classes at Kwansei Gakuin

From today's Yomiuri On-line:

More and more universities beginning to offer JSL classes

At one point during a lesson last month at Kwansei Gakuin University in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, lecturer Kazumi Maekawa turned off the lights and then turned them back on again. This is a sign used among deaf people to call for a group's attention, at which her students stopped the practice exercise they were doing and faced the lectern.

The students were learning Japanese Sign Language (JSL), which has developed spontaneously among the deaf in Japan. An increasing number of higher educational institutions here have been introducing JSL as part of their language programs, with Kwansei following that path since April, when it opened its human welfare studies department.

JSL, which will be offered to freshmen and sophomores, is treated as an elective foreign language for students in the new department. The institution hopes learning the sign language will help the students develop a broader viewpoint on welfare.


In addition to Kwansei, Shikoku Gakuin University in Kagawa Prefecture has been teaching JSL for the past decade, while Japan College of Social Work in Kiyose, Tokyo, introduced it for this academic year.

According to Yasuhiro Ichida, a teacher in the education and training department of the National Rehabilitation Center for Persons with Disabilities in Saitama Prefecture, there are an estimated 50,000 to 60,000 people in the nation whose first language is JSL.

"It's a welcome trend that JSL has been treated as a language in its own right," he said.

Read the whole story:

Feedback, please: What other Japanese universities offer JSL classes? Are the JSL classes listed as foreign languages or social welfare?

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