American sign language as a foreign language course for high school and colleges in washington
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American Sign Language as a Foreign Language Course for High School and Colleges in Washington. Linguistics 200 Class Friday, July 11 th , 2008 Lance Forshay, Presenters. Please do not copy, distribute, revise, photocopy or even sell.

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American Sign Language as a Foreign Language Course for High School and Colleges in Washington

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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

Please do not copy, distribute, revise, photocopy or even sell.

But you may download and keep for your own personal notes.


  • Interpreter’s role.

  • My background.


  • 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 ASLIs ASL…

A Visual-Getural Language?


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 ASLIs ASL…

A fully developed language?


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 ASLIs ASL…

  • Phonology

  • Morphology

  • Syntax

  • Semantics

  • Pragmatics

  • More?...



  • Sign Parameters:

  • Handshapes

  • Movement

  • Location

  • Palm-Orient.

  • 5. Non-Manual

  • Signals

The Nature of ASLIs ASL…

A language with a cultural component?

Yes. Read about this issue on

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 ASLIs ASL…

A broken English?


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 ASLIs 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 ASLIs ASL…

A written language?


Even though we have research project called “Sign Writing” known only to few, we still do not have an official written ASL yet.

The Nature of ASLIs ASL…

A changing language?


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)


The Nature of ASLIs ASL…



Almost every country has its own sign language just like spoken language. There are at least 70 known sign languages.

The Nature of ASLIs ASL…

Used in other countries?


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 ASLIs ASL…

Used in British countries?


ASL is totally different from British Sign Language used in the United Kingdom (Scotland, England, and Wales), Australia, and New Zealand.

The Nature of ASLIs 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 ASLIs ASL…

Legally accepted as a world language credit?


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.

The Nature of ASLIs ASL…

Offered at major universities and colleges?

Yes, ASL is becoming very popular in higher education.

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 ASLIs ASL…

Is ASL recognized by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL)?


See their website,

ASL is also recognized by the Modern Languages Association (MLA), Salks Research Institute and many other reputable research organizations.

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 as an International Scope.


  • 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.

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.

American Deaf Culture



Lance Forshay, M.S.

ASL and Deaf Studies Lecturer

And Program Coordinator

Department of Linguistics

[email protected]

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