American Sign Language as
a Foreign Language Course
for High School and
Colleges in Washington
Linguistics 200 Class
Friday, July 11th, 2008
Lance Forshay, Presenters
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But you may download and keep for your own personal notes.
Introduction
 Interpreter’s role.
 My background.
Agenda
 Nature of ASL and relevant
questions.
 ASL at an international scope.
 ASL at University of Washington.
 American Deaf Culture.
What is American Sign Language?
 Discussion
 Public assumptions about ASL?
The Nature of ASL
Is ASL…
A Visual-Getural Language?
Yes.
ASL contains 60% Gestural-Body
Language and Facial Expressions.
BUT… ASL is different from common
gestures hearing people use.
Ex. Basketball, Car, Happy.
The Nature of ASL
Is ASL…
A fully developed language?
Yes.
ASL contains all linguistic
characteristics that make ASL a
language different and independent
from English language.
What are the linguistic parts that build
up a language?
The Nature of ASL
Is ASL…
1. Phonology
2. Morphology
3. Syntax
4. Semantics
5. Pragmatics
6. More?...
ASL
Phonology?
Sign Parameters:
1. Handshapes
2. Movement
3. Location
4. Palm-Orient.
5. Non-Manual
Signals
The Nature of ASL
Is ASL…
A language with a cultural component?
Yes. Read about this issue on
www.waaslta.org
ASL is the key to the heart of Deaf culture.
You have to understand Deaf culture to
master ASL at higher level.
The Nature of ASL
Is ASL…
A broken English?
No.
ASL is just a different language with
different grammar order and structure.
Can you say that French and Spanish
have broken or poor English?
The Nature of ASL
Is ASL…
A language you can use to
communicate complicated topics
with philosophical ideas, politics,
sports, education, science, comedy,
express in drama and storytelling or
anything else like you do with
English?
Yes!… with no limitations.
The Nature of ASL
Is ASL…
A written language?
No.
Even though we have research project
called “Sign Writing” known only to
few, we still do not
have an official written
ASL yet.
www.signwriting.com
The Nature of ASL
Is ASL…
A changing language?
Yes.
Like all languages, ASL does change over
time and varies within regions (accents).
Some old ASL signs disappear, simplify or
assimilate with other word signs into new
signs. (Compound and Contractions)
Ex. REMEMBER = KNOW + CONTINUE
The Nature of ASL
Is ASL…
Universal?
No.
Almost every country has its own sign
language just like spoken language.
There are at least 70 known sign
languages.
The Nature of ASL
Is ASL…
Used in other countries?
Yes.
ASL is used by Deaf people in Canada
and few other countries with historical
background of deaf education
established by American educators and
church missionaries for the deaf such
as Nigera, Kenya, Philippines, Belize
and some parts of India.
Ex. Andrew Foster
The Nature of ASL
Is ASL…
Used in British countries?
No.
ASL is totally different from British Sign
Language used in the United Kingdom
(Scotland, England, and Wales),
Australia, and New Zealand.
The Nature of ASL
Is ASL…
Where did ASL come from?
ASL is a blend of Martha’s Vineyard
Signs, mainland “Old ASL” and LSF
when Laurent Clerc came to start first
American School for the Deaf with
Thomas Gallaudet.
The Nature of ASL
Is ASL…
Legally accepted as a world language
credit?
Yes.
Washington State Law passed in July 1984 to
recognize ASL as a language and that it may
be used for foreign language credit in
secondary and post-secondary level
education. (WAC 180-51-025 for secondary
and postsecondary.) For more information on
other state legislations on ASL.
http://www.aslta.org/legislation/index.html
The Nature of ASL
Is ASL…
Offered at major universities and colleges?
Yes, ASL is becoming very popular in higher
education.
http://web.mac.com/swilcox/UNM/univlist.html
Now, ASL has the fourth largest enrollment.
1990: 1,602
1995: 4,304
1998: 11,420
2002: 60,781
2006: 78,829 (Italian: 78,368 = 461 less)
Modern Languages Association, 2006.
The Nature of ASL
Is ASL…
Is ASL recognized by the American
Council on the Teaching of Foreign
Languages (ACTFL)?
Yes.
See their website, www.actfl.org
ASL is also recognized by the Modern
Languages Association (MLA), Salks
Research Institute and many other
reputable research organizations.
ASL as an International Scope.
 While ASL is not universal, ASL is widely used in





international conferences or gathering beside
Gestuno.
World Federation of the Deaf conference uses
Gestuno but many people communicate in ASL.
Deaflympics / Goodwill Games / Deaf Way.
ASL is very popular with Deaf people in Japan.
ASL has an huge impact on the linguistic community
and research. Many principles of ASL grammar are
being discussed in comparison to other language
linguistics.
Gallaudet University and its international reputation.
ASL at UW
 First year ASL is offered at UW for the first
time last year with over 350 students on wait
list. (220+ for this fall’s wait list)
 We also offer intensive first year ASL course
for summer quarter, ASL 134.
 We hope to receive a permanent funding from
the state for our ASL program and to hire
more ASL teachers to accommodate the high
demand at UW.
American Deaf Culture
 What is Deaf Culture?
A group of Deaf people who uses American Sign
Language, lives by a set of norms and values
of the Deaf community, shares the Deaf
heritage and traditions, and involves as a
member of Deaf community.
 “D”eaf versus deaf.


Matter of identity and belonging to Deaf
community.
Not necessarily hereditary.
American Deaf Culture
 Art / Theatre.
 Folk-Tale and Legends.
 Social rules, Norms, Values, Traditions,
Worldviews.
 Audism: “The notion that one is superior
based on one’s ability to hear…”
 UW, ASL 305: Introduction to Deaf Studies.
Spring quarters.
Questions?
Contact:
Lance Forshay, M.S.
ASL and Deaf Studies Lecturer
And Program Coordinator
Department of Linguistics
[email protected]
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American Sign Language