Emily Zwaal




I have had the honor of teaching ASL at Oxnard College since Fall of 2014, but initially began my career at OC back in 2010 as an ASL/English interpreter working with our deaf student population. I earned my Bachelor's degree and teaching licensure in Deaf Education from Radford University and later received a Masters in Interpretation from Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C.  As a hearing person, it was an invaluable experience to attend this esteemed university for the deaf, and one that molded me significantly into the instructor I am today.  I have taught deaf students in both residential and public school settings and worked within the field of education in a variety of capacities with both deaf and non-deaf students, from pre-school age through adults. 

Language and culture are inextricably linked, which is to say it is not possible to truly learn a language without also learning about the people and culture to which it is tied.  Furthermore, we know that language acquisition occurs most rapidly when engaging in authentic communication with native or fluent signers.  With this in mind, I strive to expose students to the vibrant Deaf community, and to instill in them a respect and appreciation for both the language and its users.

One of the most rewarding aspects of teaching is getting to see students grow with the language over the course of a semester (or several) and also getting to know the amazing students who make up our campus community.  Advising the ASL Club and sponsoring our chapter of the National ASL Honor Society is one way I get the opportunity to connect with students.  I am continuously inspired by their dedication, their unique stories, and the diverse strengths and perspectives they bring.  It is because of them that I look forward to coming to class every day, and I hope for each of them to ultimately discover a path in life that they find every bit as fulfilling.

When not teaching, I spend my time enjoying my two young boys and husband.  As a transplant to California, I take advantage of being outside in the amazing weather every opportunity we get, be it hiking, biking, playing on the beach or kayaking.  My family and friends, reading, traveling, politics and social activism are things that make me tick.  My future goals are to travel much more, to become fluent in Spanish, and to pick up the guitar.