American Sign Language Class Offered This Summer at Centralia College


Centralia College will offer an introduction to American Sign Language this summer, the college announced this week. 

ASL 121 will be an introduction to American Sign Language, which “is a complete natural language that has similar linguistic properties as spoken languages; however, its grammatical rules differ from English,” said adjunct ASL instructor Maggie DePuye-Phillips. “ASL is a visual-gestural language expressed by movements of the hands and face.”

The class will cover finger spelling, numbers, vocabulary, and everyday phrases, greetings and basic grammar. Students will also learn about the deaf community and their culture. 

The five-credit class is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays from July 1 to Aug. 23. 

DePuye-Phillips is deaf and has used ASL to communicate for her entire life. 

“The discovery that ASL is a natural language opened up my world as it provided me with another avenue of accessibility to information, communication and my culture,” she said. 

She taught ASL and counseled deaf students at Northern Illinois University for more than 15 years. She moved to Chehalis in 2008. 

“It brings me joy sharing language with others through teaching,” she said. “... I decided to shift my focus and become a full-time caregiver for my husband, a disabled veteran, whom also communicates with me in ASL.”

DePuye-Phillips has been an ASL instructor at Centralia College since 2017.

The class could help people better communicate with deaf family or friends, or help a person communicate in their work life. It could also count as a foreign language requirement, according to the college. 

“ASL is a beautiful language, and easy to master if you stick with practice and immerse yourself into the deaf world,” DePuye-Phillips said. 

Registration for summer classes is open now. To learn more, go to




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