American Sign Language (ASL) introduces sign language, hearing loss community and Deaf culture. ASL is a true language with syntax, grammatical structure, and linguistic features. Students are encouraged to understand deafness from the perspective of the Deaf community. Receptive and expressive sign skills are developed rapidly due to the engaging nature of the lab activities and dialogue practices. Authentic and relevant interpersonal activities are interspersed throughout the curriculum. The courses aim to spread Deaf awareness, bridge communication gaps and inspire advocacy for the Deaf community among people living in America.
Music video created by SMU ASL students (Spring 2022)
Who learns ASL?
1. ASL is the third-most-frequent language to require a court interpreter.
2. ASL users are the fourth-largest monolingual population.
3. ASL is the third most-studied language in the USA, outnumbered only by Spanish and French. ASL is taught in all fifty states, across Canada, and in some parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa. ASL enrollment at the college level continues to grow faster than any other language, and the NationalK-12 Foreign Language Enrollment Survey shows that more students are taking or are interested in taking ASL than most other languages combined. Sources: MLA Enrollment Report (2018); FLE Report (2017).
Is ASL Easy?
ASL is as challenging to learn as any other spoken language. Just like any other world language, it has its own structure and grammar, different ways of phrasing things than English, and requires you to push yourself. You will use your hands, face, lips, shoulders, and even the space around you to communicate without making a sound! Learning ASL means you will be able to communicate in 3-D, so rather than telling about a movie, you’ll be able to show the movie itself. Try doing that in a spoken language!
Is Knowing ASL Useful?
Yes! ASL isn’t just for those who aspire to become teachers of the Deaf or interpreters. ASL proficiency opens the doors to many careers involving interaction with the general public. Think of all the different jobs that require talking to people, and you’ll see how useful ASL can be: Police. Fire department. Store clerk. Attorney. Doctor. Nurse. Physical trainer. Teacher. Restaurant server. Customer service representative. General manager. Federal, state, and local government. Education. Accountant. Hospital aide. Retail sales. Receptionist. Home health aide. Childcare worker. Military. Bank teller. Management. Electrician. Software developer. Financial planner. Correctional officer. Coffee shop staff. Human resources. Hairdresser. Labor relations specialist. Mechanic. Pharmacist. Dentist. Engineer. Therapist. And many more! ASL proficiency can also serve you well abroad. The Peace Corps seeks candidates who know ASL every year, to serve all over the world.