Monthly Archives: April 2011

Is ASL a Foreign Language?

Many people have questioned if ASL is truly a foreign language. There has been many debate about this subject. But it seems that as far as America is concerned, ASL is considered a foreign language in some states.

It seems that a number of states have passed a number of states have passed legislation recognizing ASL) as a foreign language and permitting high schools and universities to accept it in fulfillment of foreign language requirements for hearing as well as deaf students. (, para. 1) As of 2004, only 40 out of 50 states have passed such legislation (States that recognize ASL as a foreign language)

According to students of Northern Illinois University-

“American Sign Language is distinct from spoken English and that its coursework provides a new perspective akin to the cultural immersion they’d experience in French, Spanish or other traditional language classes.” (, para. 3)

Like any other language, ASL ‘s grammer and punctuation is very different than spoken English. For example, “APPEAR tooth = PAIN ++BAD DENTIST GO NEED” is wrriten in gloss, which is a transcription of ASL. The meaning of the phrase is “It seems I have a toothache; I need to go to a dentist.” Only a person very fluent in ASL would recognize that sentence format.

So, it is safe to say that ASL is quite a foreign language, but not because of its origin, but of it’s culture.

Information from Is American Sign Language a ‘foreign’ language? by Angie Leventis Lourgos (link)

American Sign Language as a Foreign Language  by Sherman Wilcox (link)

Simple Sign Language-Interview #2

Yesterday, I interviewed a young man named Diddy. Though he is not at all savvy on the subject, I was interested to hear his opinion about sign language.

Me: Do you know anyone who has hearing parking?

Diddy: I do not know anyone who has hearing problems.

Me: What do you think when you hear about sign language?

Diddy: I think of uncomfortable positions you have to put your hands in.

Me: What do you know about sign language?

Diddy: I know the mute use it as a way to communicate.

Me: Do you think that sign language is a foreign language, like Spanish?

Diddy: Yes, I think ancient natives may have used it during ceremonies.

Me: If given the chance, would you want to learn sign language?

Diddy: Yes, it is not a bad thing to know another language.

From the interview, I can see that Diddy has some misconceptions about sign languages, but he seems interested in learning more about them.

Press Release: Simple Sign Language

Simple Sign Language is an information source for sign language words and phrases. It was made for people interested in learning about the American Sign Language and some of what it has to offer.

Simple Sign Language provides instructions on how to sign the following: introductory phrases and responses, alphabet, numbers,  and some useful vocabulary words.

Simple Sign Language will also have posts discussing different aspects of sign language and interviews with those skilled with sign language.

Visit Simple Sign Language at:

To contact Kaycee Atuchukwu, email at

Simple Sign Language-Interview #1

Last week, I managed to have an interview with a classmate named Chad who is in my teaching class. He is hearing impaired and able to read and use sign language.

Me: So, How long did it take you to learn sign language?

Chad: I have been learning since I was 2 or 3 years old and it takes awhile to learn it.

Me: How has sign language helped you in everyday life?

Chad: Sign Language helped me understand what people are talking about. Sign language is a communication between the deaf world and the hearing world.

Me: For you, what is the most hardest word or phrase to sign?

Chad: At first it was big words, but now it is words or phrases that has many different meanings. For example, one sign for 2 or 3 different words.

Me: What would your advice be for people who want to learn sign language?

Chad: My advice is to take time to study and memorize. Practice daily, and find a deaf or hearing-impaired person and practice with them and they will help you and give you feedback.

Guest Post by Deborah Shaw

Today I am posting a guest post from a fellow classmate of mine. Hope you enjoy.

The Value of Sign Language

By Deborah Shaw

According to research presented in the History of Sign Language post, sign language was originally created for hearing- impaired individuals. I know from experience that the value of sign language today, extends far beyond the hearing-impaired community.

When I first visited this blog, I thought back to when my son was in school struggling with communication. His hearing was normal, but he had severe mental challenges. Speech therapy was always included in his Individual Education Plan (IEP), and when he reached middle school, one of his teachers decided to incorporate sign language as an objective, as well. The decision proved effective. Coupled with gestures, my son learned a few basic functional signs to convey his wants for food and to show his desires to transition from one activity to another. Today, as an adult with multiple challenges, he still remembers and continues to use the signs he learned.

My son’s case is one example of the lasting value of having sign language as an alternative or as a supplement to oral speech. The benefits are twofold:

  • Individuals in need of assistance gain skills that would help decrease communication frustrations and increase emotional well-being and quality of life.
  • People, who would be advocates (parents/teachers/others) for individuals in need, gain the capacity to interact successfully with the individuals.

There are multiple resources for learning sign language, but probably one of the best ways to learn and become proficient is by interacting with other sign language users.