American Sign Language is one of many stimulating, fast-moving classes available during Oswego’s Summer Sessions. But it’s also quite unlikely many courses students might take.

“The first day that we had class, our teacher didn't speak for a half hour,” said Samantha Labbate, a junior wellness management major. “Everyone was getting nervous, like, oh jeez, this is how the whole semester is gonna be? No talking, we've gotta figure out what she's gonna do?"

But the course’s teacher, Laura Latray-Corey of the modern languages and literatures, was making an indelible point about the experiences of deaf people.

“You're gonna run into a deaf person at some time in your life,” Latray-Corey said. “So it would be awesome to be able to communicate with that person in their language.”

“Just being able to sign with someone that can't hear is actually like kind of exciting, because you can communicate with someone that no one else can,” Labbate noted.

“If you're going to work as a teacher of special ed, or whatever, you're gonna run into students who are non-verbal or autistic, and a lot of times, American Sign Language is used with those populations as well, just to help them to communicate,” Latray-Corey said. “I had a student who was a nurse, who went to her job one day, and there was deaf patient, and no one knew how to communicate with that person. And the deaf person was so excited when they saw my former student there signing and communicating with them in their language.”

Summer shines

The unique nature of the class and its part in the condensed Summer Sessions — which include in-person offerings, online courses and some that are a blend of the two — combine to make it even more of a draw.

“I actually enjoy summer classes, personally,” Labbate said. “It's less stress, you can do it all online, it's easygoing. Except for this class, you gotta come in, but it's not a problem.”

“Definitely, a different population of students come in the summer,” Latray-Corey said. “We have more adult learners who come to take the language, and they have very, very varied reasons for taking the language.”

Senior childhood education major Ashlie Pritchard has found the compressed nature of summer classes surprisingly manageable.

“I thought it would be a real big burden, but it's actually not,” Pritchard said. “The time of the class is great. I'm able to get stuff done during the day, come to class for a few hours at night, and get home and still be in bed reasonably to get up the next morning. It's something different. I've been doing a lot of research and theory stuff, and this is something more hands-on, and I really like that, and I think it's something I'll be able to use throughout the rest of my career.”

As for the class itself, teacher and students alike are enjoying the experience.

“I love teaching language, I love seeing people learn it, pick it up, start using it,” Latray-Corey explained.

“It's really interactive with your body language,” Labbate said. “Which is really nice, because some people don't know how to do normal body language. And people actually don't realize, like, they are using body language a lot more than they think.”

For more information on Summer Sessions and what classes are available, visit