American Sign Language 1 (ASL 1) introduces students to the language and culture of deaf people in the United States. The course will focus on specific language and cultural behaviors, as well as introduce students to the grammar of ASL. Both expressive and receptive skills of students will be the focus of the course, with a major emphasis placed on receptive skills. Students will participate extensively in interactive classroom activities using the “Voices Off” Policy to ensure ASL immersion.
American Sign Language 2 (ASL 2) furthers student knowledge and experience of the language and culture of deaf people in the United States. The course will focus on specific language and cultural behaviors, as well as ASL grammar. Both expressive and receptive skills of students will be practiced, with additional emphasis placed on students’ expressive skills as the year progresses. Students will continue to participate in extensive interactive classroom activities to ensure immersion in ASL. Both students and instructor will use the “Voices-Off” Policy for more extended periods of time.
American Sign Language 3 (ASL 3) furthers student knowledge and experience of the language and culture of deaf people in the United States. Students will become more fluent in ASL and will develop greater insight into the deaf culture through the context of ASL literature. Students will participate in discussions regarding the narratives they study and the material they read. These discussions will be conducted in American Sign Language, as will all course material. Students will further advance receptive and expressive skills as additional ASL grammar and vocabulary are introduced. While developing these communication skills, students will simultaneously mature in their understanding of the deaf experience.
The learning of a foreign language requires much commitment on the part of each student. Daily attendance should be considered mandatory , as this classroom interaction is vital for comprehension and expression in ASL.
Each student will be expected to participate fully in all class activities. Since there are no spoken or written components in ASL, this daily interaction is essential in learning this unique language. The “Voices Off” Policy must be adhered to at all times.
AMERICAN SIGN LANGUAGE CLASSES
“ Voices-Off” Policy
The American Sign Language (ASL) program at Lake Travis High School has adopted a “Voices-Off” Policy for all ASL classes. It is important for students to be immersed in a learning environment in which only ASL is used in the classroom. This will facilitate students’ fluency in the language.
This policy means that the majority of class time will be conducted in ASL and that all students will be expected to communicate in ASL during those designated times. Particularly in beginning sign classes, true ASL communication will be minimal and can be frustrating. However, each student is expected to adhere to the “Voices-Off” Policy and communicate using gesture, mime, pen/pencil, etc. All of these non-verbal communication strategies will only benefit the students in learning to express themselves in ASL and in becoming more familiar with deaf culture.
Having no spoken or written component in ASL makes it difficult to have written homework assignments. However, for each class period, the student will be expected to review vocabulary and grammar a minimum of 20-30 minutes. Ideally, this is done with a partner or “study buddy”, but signing in front of a mirror can be used as a last resort. This practice should include receptive and expressive fingerspelling, vocabulary and grammar. The class “daily warm-ups” are an excellent source of vocabulary signs and sentences which can be used for review and practice.
Each ASL student is required to complete several INTERACTION PROJECTS during the year. A deaf event must be attended outside of class and a written report is submitted as a major grade. This allows the student not only to practice expressive and receptive ASL skills, but, also, to observe deaf culture first-hand.
ASL 1 students have 2 interactions-1 for the fall and 1 for the spring semester.
ASL 2 students have 3 interactions-1 for the fall and 2 for the spring semester.
ASL 3 students have 4 interactions-2 for the fall and 2 for the spring semester.
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Choose a “study buddy” – arrange to interact with another ASL student 2-3 times per week. Conversations from the textbook, as well as daily warm-ups from class can be used.
Review vocabulary, fingerspelling & numbers on a daily basis – 20-30 minutes per class period with flash cards should be adequate.
Follow the “Voices-Off” Policy – all students must be willing to refrain from using their voice during specified times during class. This encourages students to find alternative methods of communication.
Use non-manual behaviors – these head tilts, eye gazes & facial expressions are grammatical markers in ASL. They must be incorporated in all students expressive skills.
Attend deaf events often – interaction with members of the deaf community is crucial in the comprehension of ASL. Consistent exposure to a variety of signing styles will benefit all students in receptive and expressive skills.
No! American Sign Language is NOT signed English. By definition, a foreign language must have its’ own unique syntax and grammar. Signed English follows English word order and is therefore a method of communication, not a foreign language. Additionally, ASL uses non-manual features and classifiers as a part of the grammatical structure.
Is ASL accepted as a foreign language at all universities/colleges?
While some universities and colleges may not recognize ASL as a foreign language, the list continues to grow. And though the universities, themselves, may not offer additional courses in ASL, they generally recognize any accredited high school graduation program with foreign language credits in ASL.
Is ASL really a beneficial language to learn?
Most people are unaware that depending upon the area, ASL is generally recognized as the 3 rd or 4 th most used language in the United States. And, not surprisingly, larger metropolitan areas with Schools for the Deaf have large deaf communities. Austin, for example, has a heavy concentration of deaf people due to the location of the Texas School for the Deaf.
Is ASL a universal language?
No, ASL is American Sign Language and is used by 500,000-1,000,000 people in the United States and Canada. There are hundreds of sign languages around the world, including French Sign Language, Japanese Sign Language, British Sign Language and Russian Sign Language, all of which have their own unique vocabulary, syntax and grammar.
What is an ASL interpreter?
An ASL interpreter is a certified individual who translates English into American Sign Language for a deaf client and voice interprets English for the hearing person. Certified Interpreters for the Deaf can earn between $40-$60 per hour, depending on their certification level. Many Interpreter Training Programs (TIP’s) are offered at colleges and universities around the U.S., including an excellent 2 year program at Austin Community College.