New sign language, German classes at COM

Learn to communicate with many cultures in two language courses offered at College of the Mainland for the first time.

New for fall 2017, the college is offering an interactive, introductory German class.

“In language classes the focus lies on introducing all four skills: speaking, listening, reading and writing,” said instructor Myriam Bussman-Rizzi. “The goal of the class is to introduce students to both the German language and German cultures. By the end of the class, students should feel comfortable asking and answering short/basic questions and have a better understanding of Germany, Austria and Switzerland.”

Bussman-Rizzi is a native speaker of German and earned a master’s in German language and literature. She currently teaches German full-time at Friendswood High School. 

“I love teaching and enjoy students getting engaged or excited about what they will be able to do with what they have learned. I love hearing that students have traveled to the country and were able to use their language skills and especially the long-term successes of students that are able to use German in their professional lives,” said Bussman-Rizzi.

The college is offering new languages to give students more options for electives and professional development courses.

“Texas has a very rich German heritage and we wanted to tap into that. It also has structural connections to English, and we have a wonderful local instructor to teach it,” said Brian Anderson, chair of the COM Humanities Department. “Learning a foreign language can help students to be more culturally aware and can enhance their understanding of how languages work in general. Whether you ever become fluent in the language or not is not as important as being exposed to a more complex worldview and a more nuanced understanding of the similarities and differences between languages.”

The American Sign Language class, new in fall 2017, will focus on helping students learn to communicate with hearing-impaired people. 

“The first level of American Sign Language is a stepping stone for students, a way for them to take the first glimpse into the deaf community and ASL. I hope that students go into the class with open minds, ready to see life from a different perspective,” said Jenifer Pickett, instructor.

The class is an elective and will use web technologies so students can practice outside of class.

“I hope to build a strong groundwork of ASL so students could then continue their education and make an impact,” said Pickett.

Pickett is certified to teach American Sign Language and has a master’s in deaf studies and deaf education.

“The course can benefit education and medical personnel and those who want to increase their knowledge of another culture,” said Anderson. "It's a language with a very practical side and, with a lot of additional training and study, can even lead to career opportunities." 

Both classes are offered at COM’s Learning Center – League City East at 102 E. Walker St.

The college also offers four levels of Spanish.

For more information, email banderson@com.edu.

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