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American Sign Language

Learn foundational skills in American Sign Language (ASL) to become a more effective and expressive ASL communicator with Purdue’s online ASL Certificate courses. These courses are a basic introduction to American Sign Language (ASL) for students with no previous knowledge. The courses introduce students to tools for mastering the grammar of ASL to both express and understand the language. Introduction to cultural and historical aspects of ASL and the Deaf Community is also included. Students can expect to acquire basic ASL skills to be able to engage in everyday conversations in ASL when interacting with the Deaf Community.

The courses use interactive activities that will put students in situations that allow them to concentrate on the purpose rather than the mechanics of a conversation. Students will also learn to tell stories, use the language in a variety of settings and study ASL grammar with attention to nonmanual features such as facial expressions, head positions, and body positions.

After completing the courses students will be able to:

  • Use nonverbal and/or visual gestural communication that allows for expansion of functional communication in ASL.
  • Demonstrate a basic level of conversational and narrative skills, which involves using appropriate ASL vocabulary, fingerspelling, and number signs as taught in the course.
  • Incorporate appropriate ASL grammatical rules, non-manual signals and features in sentences, dialogues and storytelling.
  • Appreciate and respect the cultural and historical aspects of the Deaf Community and ASL, including respect for the importance of ASL and Deaf Culture as the center of the Deaf Community.
  • Express, understand, and manage more complex interactions involving expanded ASL lexical signs, grammatical rules, and sentence structure (syntax).
  • Demonstrate an expanded conversational and narrative skill in ASL using both concrete and abstract concepts.
  • Exhibit the ability to use appropriate ASL grammatical features and functions of the language used in dialogues and storytelling that includes nonmanual grammatical signals, intensity, and characterizations.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of and respect for deaf people and ASL by engaging appropriate conversation strategies used in the Deaf Community and applying their ASL skills.
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ASL 1 is a basic introduction course to American Sign Language (ASL). This course introduces students to the tools for mastering grammar at a basic expressive and receptive level. Introduction to cultural and historical aspects of ASL and the Deaf community is also included

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This course is designed to build on and apply ASL conversational skills and cultural behaviors acquired from previous courses, ASL 1 to a functional level that includes new expanded conversational and narrative skills using both concrete and abstract concepts. Students will continue to learn the units of the Signing Naturally curriculum, which uses the “functional-notional” approach where ASL grammatical principles are also emphasized in this course. This method focuses on the communicative purposes or “functions” of social interaction. The course incorporates interactive activities, which will encourage a natural language environment using the target language, American Sign Language by giving students situations, which allow them to concentrate on the purpose rather than the mechanics of the conversation.

Students will also learn to tell stories, use the language in a variety of settings and study ASL grammatical rules with attention to non-manual features including non-manual grammatical signals, and prosodic features of intensity and characterization. Emphasis is placed on narrative receptive and expressive skill development. Attention is given to the basic discourse structures used in both dialogues and storytelling.

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This self-paced course is designed to introduce students to American Deaf culture and components of the American Deaf community including history, norms, rules of social interactions, values, traditions, and dynamics during the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. Educational, social, and political factors unique to the Deaf community will be explored, as well as community organizations, impact of technology, and emerging issues/trends.

The mission of this course is to enable students, as participants in the Deaf community via interpreting or otherwise, to effectively carry out roles by arming you with knowledge of this community—and to spark a desire to continually enrich this knowledge by immersion into, and allyship with, this community. Note: This class is open to everyone, regardless of ability to use ASL.

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Course Delivery

ASL 1, ASL 2 and American Deaf Community are taught asynchronously, meaning students can access the course whenever best fits with their schedules. Students have access to each course for six months.

For more information and to register click the button below.

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Meet the Instructor

Mr. John Borkowski holds a Master's Degree in Deaf Secondary Education from the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in Rochester, NY. He is originally from Buffalo, NY, where he attended the Deaf school - St. Mary’s School for the Deaf. Upon high school graduation, he attended Gallaudet University and obtained his Bachelor’s of Arts (BA) majoring in prelaw. He worked as a computer specialist for the U.S. Government before returning to the teaching field. John started as a professional K-12 educator in the year 2000. His experience as a secondary social studies teacher spanned over five different deaf schools in New York, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and now in DC at Model Secondary School for the Deaf (MSSD). John’s first experience in teaching ASL was as a tutor in the Interpreting program at RIT when he was a graduate student. After graduation, he started teaching introductory ASL in the deaf community and local colleges in Indiana such as Ball State University and Indiana University - Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI). He then taught a variety of intermediate ASL level courses, including the linguistics, culture, and historical aspects of the Deaf Community. As an ASL instructor for Purdue Online, John Borkowski aims to connect people who are interested in learning about the Deaf World, community, and culture.

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Course At A Glance

Modality: Asynchronous, Instructor Led
Access: 6 months
    • ASL 1 - March 18 - May 10, 2024
    • ASL 2 - May 13 - July 5, 2024
    • American Deaf Community – Open enrollment
    • ASL 1 - $500
    • ASL 2 - $500
    • American Deaf Community - $350
    • Two Course Certificate - $900
    • Full Certificate - $1000
Who Should Enroll:
    • Teachers
    • Special education teachers
    • Students
    • Audiologists
    • Speech pathologists
    • Human resources coordinators
    • Social workers
    • Health care workers
    • First responders
    • Law enforcement employees