ASL 121










ASL 121-123
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Edmonds Community College   
Barbara Bernstein Fant, Instructor 
Instructor Email:
Office Hours:  TBA                                                                              

Winter Quarter 2010
Location: SQL 213  
Class Days:  Tuesdays & Thursdays
Class Time:  1:40 - 3:50 pm                                                                                               

                                                                ASL 121 - American Sign Language Level 1

                       Updated January 18, 2010

REQUIRED TEXTBOOKS AND MATERIALS Signing Naturally Student Workbook/ DVDs, Units 1 - 6
Smith, Lentz, Mikos
ISBN 978-1-58121-210-5
     (Used for ASL 121 - 122)
For Hearing People Only, 3rd edition
Moore and Levitan
ISBN 0-9634016-3-7
     (Used for ASL 121 - 122)
ASL 121 - 123 Core Vocabulary
This is provided for you to download from the course website (See my Vocabulary and Assignments web page).  You may download it via streaming (.wmv) and save a copy for your own use.
Sign Language Dictionary (optional) - there are many to choose from, including an on-line and CD-Rom versions.  American Sign Language Dictionary, by Costello or by Sternberg is good.




     Students will learn to appreciate and respect ASL as a living, unique and wholly naturally-occurring language, and recognize Deaf people as a community with their own set of cultural traditions and values.  Students will become familiar with Deaf culture, history, folklore, community, and sub-communities such as the Deaf-Blind community in Seattle.

     Students will utilize the appropriate vocabulary, grammar and social behavior by demonstrating their knowledge of the topics covered in class using specific language and grammar constructions.

Language Functions (Signing Naturally)
Unit 1:  Introducing Oneself
Unit 2:  Exchanging Personal Information
Unit 3:  Discussing Living Situations
Unit 4:  Talking About Family (if time permits!)

ASL Grammar Components                  
Parameters of a sign                                                                                                                                                 
Manual alphabet                                                                         Real World Orientation
Lexicalized fingerspelling                                                           Signer's Perspective
Dominant hand and Non-dominant hand roles                             ASL Time Line and time indicators
ASL glosses                                                                                Spatial agreement (referencing)
Agent marker                                                                            Contrastive structure        
Classifiers                                                                                  Negation      
       Size and shape specifiers
       Cardinal numbers 1 - 100
       Ordinal numbers
Verb types 
       Noun-verb pairs
Sentence Structures
       Yes/No questions
       WH-word questions
ASL Functional/Cultural Components
Rules of introductions
Rules of exchanging personal information
Rules of describing family and relatives
Rules of confirmation, negation, and correction of information
Rules of getting attention

Knowledge of Deaf Culture and Deaf Community
Brief  history of ASL  ("Through Deaf Eyes" - videotape)
Brief history of the education of Deaf people in the U.S.
"Deaf goodbyes"
Deaf-Blind community in Seattle   ("The Mind Traveler" - videotape)
Introduction to Deaf Culture and the Deaf Community  ("Introduction to the Deaf Community" - videotape)

core vocabulary of 300 signs and a supplemental vocabulary as they arise during class.  Use your ASL 121- 123 Core Vocabulary streaming video (located in my Vocabulary and Assignments page) to help your review.

TEACHING METHODS Diversity: People learn in many different ways and so in class we will use a variety of instructional styles including brief lectures, modeling, demonstrations, small and large group activities, props, pictures, Power Point slideshows, videotapes, and websites.

ASL Zone:  Since ASL is a visual/gestural language, you will need to develop communication skills of which you are not accustomed: using one's hands, face, body, eyes and space. In order to progress, it is important that students become comfortable using their bodies and "listening" with their eyes. To encourage and foster the development of these skills, voicing in the classroom will be avoided as much as possible. During and at the end of each class session, feel free to sign or write your questions on the whiteboard to get clarification on ASL grammar or what was covered in class that evening for the benefit of the class.  You will be allowed to use your voice to give pertinent announcements to the class such as potential community class events, study groups, etc. with instructor permission.

Course Website: Many of your course materials will be accessed via the course website.  You will discover that the website is an extremely effective and efficient tool for learning ASL.  We will use the site in the classroom, but primarily you will use the site for out-of-class work.  The website will provide you with:

- course syllabus
- in-class schedule and homework schedule
- lecture notes, handouts, assignment sheets
- links to supporting resources and supplemental materials
- updated grade sheet to monitor your progress

Course materials will come in several  formats:

- web pages - accessible using any internet service provider,
- Acrobat .pdf files - for easy printing of graphics and forms,
- Power Point .ppt files - for review of class lecture materials
- media files - to view video clips and listen to audio clips
- traditional paper handouts

You can use any student computer on the Edmonds Community College campus to access these resources.  The student computer lab is located in the Alderwood Building and in the library. Use of the website is easy and friendly, but should you need help, you will have ample support from the staff at the student computing lab.


  • Successful completion of student responsibilities in this class requires access to BlackBoard via an Internet browser. You are expected to login to the BlackBoard classroom at least two times per week. Instructions for access to BlackBoard may be located online at the following address: []
  • Toll-free technical support (24/7 service) at []
ASSIGNMENTS Skill Enhancement Exercises (30% of the grade)

Signing Naturally Workbook:  Regular review and study outside the classroom is the most important way for you to learn.  During the quarter you will have an opportunity to improve your receptive skills by completing Units one through three (or four) in your workbook using the accompanying DVDs.

Receptive Translation Narratives  and Homework Sentences: To help you develop your receptive skills and your understanding of the nuances of the language you will be given three to five video narratives to view and to answer questions about each narrative.  In addition, you will  be assigned some homework sentences to help build your receptive skills as well (2 - 4 homework sentences assignments contingent on time constraints).

Spontaneous Dialogues and Narrative Stories
: These narratives are designed to help you learn what fluent ASL "feels" like.  You will be given a narrative to memorize and reproduce on videotape; to have the opportunity to create your own narratives, and to sign dialogues with a partner.  You will receive feedback and an opportunity to revise your work prior to turning it in for credit.

Deaf Culture Videos: Culture and language are highly interwoven with each other. To fully appreciate any language you must have a sense of the community that uses the language.  Questions will be assigned for each video.

Deaf Culture Text:  We will begin to explore the Deaf community by reading For Hearing People Only.  You will be given assignments to complete related to the reading.

Community Contact Events:  The goal is to independently explore any avenue of interest related to deaf people, the deaf community and the language that they use to communicate amongst themselves and/or the greater community.  You will be required to explore and experience any aspect of the deaf community that you find of interest.  Every event that you attend will be assigned points.

GRADING Quizzes and Exams: (70% of the grade)

Vocabulary, Fingerspelling, and Numbers  Quizzes (20%): You will have 2 to 3 quizzes during the quarter including a cumulative final quiz at the end of the quarter. There are no makeup quizzes.

Receptive Translation Midterm (5%): (2/25/10 -tentative)  You will have a receptive translation exam in the middle of the quarter to allow you to assess your progress up to date. 

Receptive Translation Final (20%)  (3/16/10; 1:30 pm)
You will take a receptive translation exam that will assess your understanding of ASL vocabulary and grammar for the whole quarter.  

Spontaneous Dialogues and Narrative Stories (10%): These narratives are designed to help you learn what fluent ASL "feels" like.  You will be given a narrative to memorize and reproduce on videotape; to have the opportunity to create your own narratives, and to sign dialogues with a partner.  You will receive feedback and an opportunity to revise your work prior to turning it in for credit.

Spontaneous Dialogue Final (15%): (3/16/10; 2:30 pm) You and a partner will record yourselves engaged in a spontaneous dialogue that will be used to assess your functional and grammatical skills.

This is the grade conversion scale used for the quizzes and exams:

Edmonds Community College uses a numerical grading system. Numerical grades may be considered equivalent to letter grades as follows:

4.0 - 3.9 A
3.8 - 3.5 A-
3.4 - 3.2 B+
3.1 - 2.9 B
2.8 - 2.5 B-
2.4 - 2.2 C+
2.1 - 1.9 C
1.8 - 1.5 C-
1.4 - 1.2 D+
1.1 - 0.9 D
0.8 - 0.7 D-
0.0 F

Late Assignments Marked Down: Homework is not accepted via email: Work turned in late will receive reduced points depending on circumstances unless you have extenuating circumstances AND you contact me or leave me a message in advance of the assignment due date. My email address is listed on this page.  You CANNOT make-up the vocabulary quizzes (they are live and in-class), but you CAN make-up the other work provided you have taken the responsibility to contact me and inform me that you will need to arrange a make-up date.

Class attendance policy:  Attendance is very important in ASL classes, as face-to-face time is vitally important in developing communication skills and fluency.  Participation is counted as part of your grade. Please make every effort to come to class regularly with your homework done and be ready to learn and participate. Each class you attend is equal to 5 points with a total of 19 classes not counting the first week of the quarter due to students adding or dropping the class.  You can earn up to 95 points.  If you are absent, you lose 5 points.  If you have an emergency, exceptions are made for family, doctor emergencies and work.  Paperwork is required for proof (death certificate, doctor's note, jury summons).   Please contact me in advance  or ASAP after an emergency via email.

Grade PolicyPlease refer to

Cell PhonesThe use of cell phones in the classroom has become a problem therefore a new policy is in place.  If you are using a cell phone in class, you will have to hand it over to the teacher to be picked up at the end of class or be asked to leave.

Emergency closure: In case of an emergency closure, please access the following web site for information: and/or call this phone number: 425-640-1459.

 COURSE EXPECTATIONS Instructor Expectations of Students:

For myself, I will attempt to create a supportive learning community in the classroom with the following expectations of the students:

1. I expect you will arrive to class and returning from breaks on time. This will allow the class to stay organized and running smoothly.

2. I expect you will arrive to class prepared for the planned activities. This particularly means having your homework completed, bringing your videotape to class on lab days and being prepared to participate fully in class activities.

I expect you will NOT use your voices during class, unless I allow that option. ASL is a very challenging language to learn. It is particularly difficult not to "think" in English. I expect you will respect your classmates and not distract their concentration by using English or other vocal languages in the classroom. If you wish to share ideas, gossip, comments, or remarks with your neighbors, feel free to do so using ASL; gestures or by writing notes to each other. Especially for beginning ASL students, this will help you give a better perspective of how Deaf people communicate with non-signers in general.

Note: At instructor's discretion, you will be allowed to use your native English language, vocally, to ask questions, and discuss the more complex aspects of ASL.  Learning ASL will be a new experience for most of you. I encourage you to be daring and exploring with the language as you learn.  On occasion,  I will call in an interpreter to go over the syllabus, homework assignments and  the cultural reading discussions. 

4. Please feel encouraged to raise your hand if you don't understand what is happening in class! We are all learning to communicate together in a new way. Your classmates will benefit not only from your question itself but from watching you sign a question.  You are also encouraged to write your questions on the whiteboard for the benefit of all as well.

Student Expectations of the Instructor:

I don't pretend to know what your expectations will be of me, but as a student you can expect the following from your instructor:

1. You can expect the instructor to return all assignments promptly as possible so that you can receive your feedback as quickly as possible after the event.

2. You can expect the instructor to be organized and prepared for the day's lesson.

3. You can expect the instructor (with student help) to create a supportive, flexible, and cooperative learning environment so that we all can have fun while we learn to master this fascinating language.

If you need course adaptations or accommodations because of a disability, if you have emergency medical information to share with your instructor, or if you need special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please make an appointment with me as soon as possible. If you would like to speak to someone about support services or other questions related to accommodations, please contact the Services for Students with Disabilities at MLT Room 159 at 425-640-1320.  The SSD office email is