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American Sign Language as a Foreign Language in U.S. High Schools: State of the Art

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The last 2 decades witnessed a growth in American Sign Language (ASL) as a foreign language in U.S. secondary schools. This overview of the current state of ASL as a foreign language in the schools consists of a history and a survey. The information on history was drawn from a study conducted by Rosen (2006). This history is followed by a national survey compiled by Rosen (2005) on U.S. secondary schools offering ASL for foreign language credit. The survey provided information on the number and distribution of schools, teachers, classes, students, departments, and the process for program implementation. The information is used to ascertain the current breadth and scope of, and to discern trends in, ASL as a foreign language in public high schools nationwide.
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American Sign Language as a Foreign
Language in U.S. High Schools: State
of the Art
RUSSELL S. ROSEN
Columbia University
Teachers College
Program in the Teaching of American Sign Language
as a Foreign Language
525 West 120th Street
Box 223
New York, New York 10027
Email: rrosen@exchange.tc.columbia.edu
The last 2 decades witnessed a growth in American Sign Language (ASL) as a foreign language
in U.S. secondary schools. This overview of the current state of ASL as a foreign language
in the schools consists of a history and a survey. The information on history was drawn from
a study conducted by Rosen (2006). This history is followed by a national survey compiled
by Rosen (2005) on U.S. secondary schools offering ASL for foreign language credit. The
survey provided information on the number and distribution of schools, teachers, classes,
students, departments, and the process for program implementation. The information is used
to ascertain the current breadth and scope of, and to discern trends in, ASL as a foreign
language in public high schools nationwide.
THE LAST TWO DECADES WITNESSED A
growth in American Sign Language (ASL) as a
foreign language in U.S. secondary schools. This
overview of the current state of ASL as a foreign
language in the schools consists of a history and
a survey. The information on history was drawn
from a study conducted by Rosen (2006). Out-
lined in the history are debates about the lin-
guistic and foreign language status of ASL, the
situation of deaf and hard of hearing students
(D/HH) in public schools, governmental recog-
nition of ASL as a language, and processes leading
to its inclusion in schools. This history is followed
by a national survey compiled by Rosen (2005) on
U.S. secondary schools that offer ASL for foreign
language credit. Information was sought for the
following topical areas: number and distribution
of schools, teachers, classes, students and depart-
ments, types of curricula and instruction, and the
process for program implementation. Owing to
The Modern Language Journal, 92, i, (2008)
0026-7902/08/10–38 $1.50/0
C
2008 The Modern Language Journal
space restrictions, survey results on curricula and
instruction are not discussed here. The survey in-
formation is used to ascertain the current breadth
and scope of, and to discern trends in, ASL as a for-
eign language in public high schools nationwide.
Some survey results were compared to available
data on other foreign languages. Such compari-
son helped determine the place of ASL in the for-
eign language domain within secondary schools.
It is hoped here that the history and information
from the survey will aid school administrators and
educators in becoming aware of the situation of
ASL as a foreign language and in implementing
ASL classes in schools. The overview ends with a
discussion of future trends and areas for future
research.
AMERICAN SIGN LANGUAGE AS A FOREIGN
LANGUAGE
The growth of ASL as a foreign language in U.S.
secondary schools is documented by an increas-
ing number of secondary schools that offer ASL
for foreign language credit in order for students
Russell S. Rosen 11
to meet states’ foreign language requirements for
graduation. A national survey conducted by the
Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL) in 1996
showed that ASL was offered in 1% of the 1,650
surveyed U.S. secondary schools with foreign lan-
guage programs, or 17 high schools, in 1987, and
2%, or 33 high schools, in 1997 (CAL, 1997). This
represented a growth of almost 100% in 10 years.
This growth of ASL as a foreign language in
schools is part of a general trend in educational in-
stitutions in adopting ASL for admission and grad-
uation purposes. Welles (2002) studied foreign
language enrollments in institutions of higher ed-
ucation. She found that 552 undergraduate col-
leges and universities in 2002 offered ASL classes
(Welles, 2002). Student enrollment in ASL classes
had grown from 1,602 students in 1990; 4,308 stu-
dents in 1995; and 11,420 students in 1998; to
60,849 in 2002 (Welles, 2002). The growth rates
were 3,698% from 1990 to 2002, and 432% from
1998 to 2002. In addition, Wilcox and Wilcox
(1991) found that as of 1991, 48 U.S. colleges and
universities accepted ASL as one of the foreign
languages that meet the requirement for under-
graduate admission. The number had grown to
66 in 1997 (Wilcox & Wilcox, 1997) and to 148 in
2006 (Wilcox, 2006). This represented a growth
rate of 208% from 1991 to 2006.
The growth had its contested beginnings. The
linguistic structures of ASL have not been re-
searched until recently by Stokoe and associates
(Stokoe, 1960; Stokoe, Casterline, & Croneberg,
1965) in the 1960s. By the 1970s and 1980s, ASL
was declared as a unique language by several lin-
guists (Baker-Schenk & Cokely, 1980; Klima &
Bellugi, 1979; Liddell, 1980; Padden, 1981; Valli
& Lucas, 1992; Wilbur, 1979). Linguists generally
found that ASL, in spite of its distinct modality
from spoken languages, carries several linguis-
tic features that are similar to spoken languages
(Fischer & Siple, 1990; Fromkin, 1988; Neidle et
al., 2000; Sandler & Lillo-Martin, 2006). However,
the “discovery” of ASL as a language was followed
by arguments, particularly among government of-
ficials and school administrators, regarding ASL
as a language and determining whether it should
be offered for foreign language credit in schools.
There was initial resistance in governments and
schools opposed to recognizing ASL as a lan-
guage and to offering it for foreign language
credit (Armstrong, 1988; Belka, 2000; Caccamise,
Garretson, & Bellugi, 1981; Cooper, 1997;
Fromkin, 1988; Sinnett, 1995; Wilcox, 1992;
Wilcox & Wilcox, 1997). Arguments against ASL
were based on the visual–manual nature and the
geographical scope of ASL, and the disbelief in
the existence of the community and culture of
signing deaf people. Because of the visual–manual
modality of ASL, government and education offi-
cials understood it as either a manual representa-
tion of English or a sophisticated form of gestures
and pantomimes. Some officials and individuals
felt that learning ASL is easier than learning spo-
ken languages because it is in the manual form
(Peterson, 1999; cf. Shroyer & Holmes, 1982). In
addition, ASL was created in the United States and
is used largely by American deaf people. As such,
ASL is not seen as “foreign.” The reasoning was
that foreign languages originate in countries out-
side the United States, and foreign language stu-
dents can visit the countries, use their languages,
and study their cultures (Armstrong, 1988). In
the case of ASL, there is not a foreign country to
go to in order to use the language (Belka, 2000;
Reagan, 2000).
Another argument against ASL in schools was
that the existence of a separate Deaf community is
problematic. Government and education officials
consider deaf people first and foremost Ameri-
cans and users of English. Their community is
a subgroup of the larger American society and its
culture a subculture of the American culture (Ter-
streip, 1993). Still another argument against ASL
was that it has no written form (Wilcox & Wilbers,
1987). All spoken languages offered in secondary
schools have written forms in addition to spoken
forms. A final argument was that there is no cul-
tural tradition in the Deaf community. All spo-
ken foreign languages offered in schools carry a
rich body of artistic and literary traditions that stu-
dents can study. Since ASL does not have a written
form, government and education officials argued
that deaf people cannot have artistic and literary
works nor possess cultural traditions (Wilcox &
Wilbers, 1987). The beliefs that ASL consists of
gestures, that it is a manual representation of En-
glish, easier to learn than spoken languages, and
that it is a part of the same geographical entity as
English, have led government and education offi-
cials to believe that ASL is not a foreign language,
and that the Deaf community and culture do not
exist.
The above arguments were counteracted by
supporters of ASL as a foreign language (Battison
& Carter, 1981; Chopin, 1988; Corwin & Wilcox,
1985; Wilbers, 1987, 1988; Wilcox, 1992; Wilcox &
Wilbers, 1987; Wilcox & Wilcox, 1991, 1997). The
supporters devised arguments that were drawn
from linguistic, psycholinguistic, sociological, and
anthropological research on ASL and the Ameri-
can Deaf community and culture. The arguments
that ASL is a manual or gestural form of English
12 The Modern Language Journal 92 (2008)
were countered by studies in ASL linguistics that
pointed to phonological, morphological, and syn-
tactical similarities and differences between ASL
and spoken languages (Fromkin, 1988; Liddell,
1980; Neidle et al., 2000; Sandler & Lillo-Martin,
2006; Valli & Lucas, 1992). ASL contains, for in-
stance, phonological binary opposites, morpho-
logical combinations, and word order that are
comparable to the features and constructions of
the world’s spoken languages. The arguments that
ASL has no cultural traditions, with a belief that it
is due to a lack of a written form, were dispelled by
several researchers (Davis, 1998; Frishberg, 1988;
Padden & Humphries, 1988, 2005; Rutherford,
1988; Wilcox, 1992; Wilcox & Wilcox, 1997). They
found that there is a rich body of cultural tra-
ditions in arts and literature that are recorded
on videotapes, digital video device, and other vi-
sual media. Histories of Deaf people and their
language, community, and culture have been re-
searched since the 1980s (Baynton, 1996; Gan-
non, 1981; Lane, 1984; Padden & Humphries,
2005), and they show that the Deaf community
not only has been created but also is evolving.
Since the late 1980s, the Deaf culture has been
investigated as a sociocultural phenomenon of
deaf people containing ideologies, artifacts, and
social structures that revolve around ASL, visual-
ism, manualism, deafness, and deaf–hearing rela-
tions (Lane, Hoffmeister, & Bahan, 1996; Padden
& Humphries, 1988, 2005).
Furthermore, the arguments that ASL is not
a foreign language were based on notions of
“foreign,” “nation,” and “community.” The no-
tions have been altered by the current interna-
tional geopolitical situation. Ties between lan-
guage and nation have been broken down by mi-
gration across geographical regions by the world’s
peoples and their speaking different languages
and carrying different cultures. This leads to the
relativization of “language” not in terms of “na-
tion” but in terms of “community” of users. In-
dividuals not using the language of the commu-
nity are considered “foreign” and their language
is considered a “foreign language” (Armstrong,
1988; Wilbers, 1987). For individuals who are not
born or acculturated into the community, the lan-
guage of the community needs to be learned (Rea-
gan, 2000; Wallinger, 2000). That ASL is easy to
learn compared to spoken languages because it
is in a manual–gestural form had been dispelled
by Shroyer and Holmes (1982), Kemp (1998a),
and Peterson (1999). Kemp (1998a) conducted a
study of the difficulties beginning students who
speak have for learning ASL and found that the
difficulties lay in the change in modality for pro-
cessing languages. Students needed to shift away
from their oral–aural languages and process ASL
in its visual–manual form. As such, ASL is as dif-
ficult to master as any spoken language. Since
ASL has similar universal principles of language
as any spoken languages (cf. Neidle et al., 2000;
Sandler & Lillo-Martin, 2006), learning ASL may
aid students in mastering other languages (Kemp,
1998b; Peterson, 1999). For supporters of ASL as a
foreign language, the evidence of ASL linguistics
and Deaf community and culture in scholarly and
literary studies, coupled with the post-colonialist
notions of “foreign” in languages and communi-
ties, have in large part put the manual–gestural
representation perspectives and the foreignness–
nation arguments into disbelief.
The recognition of ASL as a language by Stokoe
and colleagues, coupled with arguments in sup-
port of ASL as a foreign language, empowered
scholars and advocates from the Deaf commu-
nity to seek its adoption in state education de-
partments and secondary schools.
AMERICAN SIGN LANGUAGE AS A FOREIGN
LANGUAGE IN SECONDARY SCHOOLS
Rosen’s (2006) study outlined the history of the
inclusion of ASL and Deaf community and cul-
ture in secondary schools. Through an examina-
tion of educational and historical documents, it
was found that the impetus for introducing ASL
for foreign language credit in public secondary
schools was the presence of signing D/HH stu-
dents in classrooms (Rosen, 2006). The main-
streaming of ASL and Deaf community and cul-
ture was initially framed by the Individuals with
Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) practices that
privileged speech and hearing for students with
deafness. It began with the passage of the Educa-
tion for All Handicapped Children Act (EAHCA;
89 Stat. 773, 1975), one of the earliest U.S. federal
laws mandating the education of children who
were disabled in public schools. The law estab-
lished two definitions for deafness. Deaf refers to
children who are unable to use hearing to receive
information in classrooms. Hard of hearing refers
to children who utilize hearing to receive infor-
mation only with the use of amplification. Now
renamed as the IDEA (20 U.S.C. Section 1400–
1487), the EAHCA sets as one of its goals the inte-
gration of individuals with deafness into American
society. The integration was conducted by place-
ment of D/HH students in classrooms with hear-
ing students. Prior to the passage of the laws, most
D/HH students were placed in special schools
for the deaf. The schools for the deaf largely
Russell S. Rosen 13
utilize sign languages, which have ranged from
Manually Coded English to ASL, as the means
of communication. It was hoped that the place-
ment of D/HH students in classrooms with hear-
ing students would provide an opportunity for the
D/HH students to acquire the hearing and speak-
ing communication skills they need to interact
with the hearing students so that they could ulti-
mately be mainstreamed effectively into American
society. From 1977 to the present, D/HH students
increasingly have been placed in general educa-
tion classrooms with hearing student peers: 46%
of D/HH students were placed in regular, local
schools in 1977–1978; 61% in 1987–1988; 88%
in 1999–2000; and 91% in 2002–2003 (Gallaudet
Research Institute, 2004a).
However, the mainstreaming of signing D/HH1
students in American schools created communi-
cation and language barriers between the D/HH
and hearing students in public education class-
rooms. Studies since the passage of the laws con-
sistently showed lack of opportunities for inter-
action between signing D/HH students and their
hearing teachers and peers in public schools (Fos-
ter, 1989; Gaustad & Kluwin, 1992; Stinson & Liu,
1999). The communication situation of the sign-
ing D/HH students received attention from advo-
cates, researchers, and the American Deaf com-
munity. They fought over the definitions, eval-
uation, instructional program, and placements
of D/HH students with regard to communica-
tion needs and language preferences (Rosen,
2006). The language and communication difficul-
ties shown by signing D/HH students in general
education classrooms have turned IDEA into a
battleground within which ideologies have been
fought among political, educational, and Deaf
community forces (Rosen, 2006).
Deaf community advocates, particularly repre-
sentatives from the National Association of the
Deaf (NAD), a national advocacy organization
of deaf people in the United States, held meet-
ings with representatives from the U.S. Congress
and officials from the U.S. Department of Educa-
tion, a cabinet-level entity of the U.S. government
charged with the responsibility of implementing
federal laws and overseeing educational practices
in the nation. These advocates sought to alter
notions of deafness and educational practices re-
garding language use in classrooms, placement,
diagnosis, and evaluation (Rosen, 2006). The re-
sult of the meetings was a reconceptualization of
deafness for educational purposes. In 1997 and
1999 reauthorizations of IDEA, the 1975 EAHCA
“audist” practices were revised by deleting refer-
ences to speech and hearing difficulties and their
role in receiving linguistic information, and by
including “language preferences” of D/HH stu-
dents. One of the “language preferences” men-
tioned as primary instructional languages used by
D/HH students was sign language. ASL was in-
serted as one of the languages used by D/HH stu-
dents for the first time in the 1999 reauthorization
of IDEA (U.S. Department of Education, 1999).
As a consequence of changes in IDEA definitions
and practices for signing D/HH students, public
education schools found it difficult to ignore sign
language, including ASL, as a primary language
and preferred mode of communication for the
students (Rosen, 2006).
One of the altered IDEA practices with sign-
ing D/HH students was the increased presence of
sign language interpreters with signing D/HH stu-
dents in mainstreamed settings. Their presence
has increased since 1999, from 22.1% in 1999–
2000 to 22.9% in 2001–2002, and 23.4% in 2002–
2003 (Gallaudet Research Institute, 2004a). The
presence has generated interest among hearing
students and teachers in the lives, experiences,
language, community, and culture of the signing
D/HH students (Rosen, 2006). They increasingly
request courses in ASL and the American Deaf
community and culture (Rosen, 2006). As a result,
general education schools accepted ASL as one of
their languages. The presence of signing D/HH
students and the hearing students’ demand for
classes in ASL have opened doors to inside and
outside interests, which set into motion the cre-
ation of courses and programs in ASL as a for-
eign language in public general education schools
(Rosen, 2006).
State legislatures and education departments
needed to provide official approval in order for
schools to offer ASL courses, which include in-
formation on the Deaf community and culture,
for foreign language credit. Beginning in the
1980s, members from the Deaf community ini-
tiated the process for meeting with and secur-
ing approval from state legislatures and state ed-
ucation departments. However, the process var-
ied across states. Different sources initiated the
process for implementing state recognition of
ASL for foreign language credit in schools, as Pf-
effier (2003) found for Virginia, Loux (1996) for
Nevada, Rosen (2005) for New York, and Selover
(1988) and Clary (2004) for California, but fol-
lowed a similar process for all in-house program
and course approvals (Clary, 2004; Pfeffier, 2003).
In some states, the NAD, in collaboration with
the American Sign Language Teachers Associa-
tion (ASLTA), a leading American organization
of teachers of ASL, met with state education
14 The Modern Language Journal 92 (2008)
departments and state legislatures and received
approval (Rosen, 2006). In New York State, for
instance, Empire State Association of the Deaf, a
state chapter of the NAD, several representatives
from the state chapter of ASLTA, and other com-
munity leaders met with members of the state leg-
islature, received approval, drew up curriculum
and assessment materials, and devised examina-
tions for teacher certification and student diplo-
mas (Rosen, 2006). In other states, community
members and faculty from colleges and universi-
ties carried out the process. In California, a con-
sortium of individual members of the Deaf com-
munity, such as Selover (1988), the California
Association of the Deaf, educational institutions
such as California State University at Northridge,
and community organizations initiated the pro-
cess. In Maryland, Nevada (Loux, 1996), Texas,
and Washington, consortia of community organi-
zations and leaders also underwent similar pro-
cesses. In a few states, the process began at the
political level. For instance, a memorandum writ-
ten by a Virginia superintendent in 1988 led to
the passage of a resolution recognizing ASL as
a foreign language in the state assembly in 1998
(Pfeffier, 2003; Wallinger, 2000).
As a result of Deaf community mobilization,
the number of states that formally recognized
ASL as a foreign language has grown from 28
states in 1997 (Kreeft-Peyton, 1998) to 32 in 1999
(Jacobowitz, 1999) and to 38 in 2004 (Gallaudet
Research Institute, 2004b). Table 1 shows the
states that recognized ASL as a foreign language
and the states that have legislation pending as of
2004 (Gallaudet Research Institute, 2004b).
The number of recognizing states had grown
36% in 7 years since Kreeft-Peyton’s (1998) study.
Two states had ASL legislation pending. State leg-
islation for ASL had never been proposed in 10
states.
However, the offering of ASL for foreign lan-
guage credit in high schools was not predicated on
state education departments’ recognition of ASL
as a language. There were several states where ASL
was not formally recognized but its schools offered
ASL for foreign language credit. Table 1 shows
that New Mexico, North Dakota, and Missouri
were three of the states that have not formally rec-
ognized ASL as a foreign language. Nevertheless,
there were high schools in these states that of-
fered ASL for foreign language credit. The ratio-
nale was that high schools offer foreign languages
in order to help their secondary students gain ad-
mission to college, which typically requires at least
2 years of foreign language study in secondary
school. In addition, there were some states, such
TABLE 1
American Sign Language as a Foreign Language,
2004
ASL Never
ASL Proposed to
Recognize Recognition the State
ASL Pending Legislature
Alabama Arkansas Delaware
Alaska Missouri Hawaii
Arizona Idaho
California Mississippi
Connecticut Nebraska
Colorado New Hampshire
Florida New Mexico
Georgia North Carolina
Illinois North Dakota
Indiana Wyoming
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Montana
Nevada
New Jersey
New York
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermo nt
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Note. Gallaudet Research Institute (2004).
as Alabama and Iowa, that formally recognized
ASL as a foreign language, but none of their
public high schools offered ASL foreign language
classes. These states typically did not require for-
eign languages for any of their high school diplo-
mas. As such, there was no relationship between
state recognition of ASL and ASL offerings in its
high schools. There may be opportunity for more
growth in the number of high schools offering
ASL for foreign language credit regardless of state
Russell S. Rosen 15
education departments’ recognition of ASL as a
foreign language.
The results of Deaf community work in ensur-
ing recognition of ASL and Deaf community and
culture at the state government level were carried
over to public high schools (Rosen, 2006). How-
ever, high school principals, foreign language de-
partments, and school districts needed to provide
support for implementing programs and courses
in ASL as a foreign language in the schools. In ad-
dition, classes needed to be established, students
enrolled, and teachers hired.
There were several studies of ASL classes and
programs in secondary schools. Some of the stud-
ies focused on processes for program implemen-
tation that were previously described. Other stud-
ies looked at judgments by teachers and school
administrators on the knowledge and skills that
teachers of ASL ought to possess. In Pfeffier’s
(2003) study, school district administrators iden-
tified the following knowledge and skills as crit-
ical in hiring secondary school teachers of ASL:
proficiency in ASL, knowledge of Deaf culture,
and public relations skills in advocating for and
disseminating information about ASL. Newell
(1995a, 1995b) conducted a national survey of
practicing teachers of ASL for ASLTA in 1993–
1994. Survey participants identified the follow-
ing knowledge and skills as vital for ASL teach-
ers: knowledge and ability to explain ASL linguis-
tic structures, proficiency in ASL, and knowledge
of Deaf culture and history. Similar knowledge
and skills expected of teachers of ASL also were
found in Kanda and Fleischer (1988) and Stokoe
(1995). ASLTA developed several position papers
on teacher qualifications, suggesting that teachers
need to possess a degree in ASL or Deaf Studies
and ASLTA certification, be a member of ASLTA,
and attend ASLTA conferences and workshops
(Newell, 1995a, 1995b).
The studies on ASL in U.S. secondary schools
are limited in scope. The CAL surveys fo-
cused only on the number of high schools
with ASL classes for 2 years, 1987 and 1997.
The studies on teachers and processes for pro-
gram implementation differed in the scale of
analysis. The studies on program implementa-
tion were restricted to public high schools in
one state (Pfeffier, 2003; Selover, 1988) and
in one county of another state (Clary, 2004).
Some studies of practicing teachers of ASL
were conducted at the state level (Clary, 2004;
Pfeffier, 2003), and other studies at the na-
tional level (Newell, 1994, 1995a, 1995b; Kanda &
Fleischer, 1988). The studies also present other
limitations. The studies by Kanda and Fleis-
cher (1988), Stokoe (1995), and ASLTA (Newell,
1994, 1995a) on knowledge and skills for ASL
teachers utilized judgments by the ASL teach-
ers and administrators, which may or may not
reflect the actual knowledge and skills of ASL
teachers. In addition, Newell (1994, 1995a,
1995b) conducted national surveys of practic-
ing teachers, but in his studies, it is diffi-
cult to distinguish between data for the sec-
ondary school teachers and data for other
teachers.
While there is growth in the number of sec-
ondary schools that offer ASL for foreign lan-
guage credit, there is a lack of research at
the national level regarding student enrollments,
classes, levels of ASL courses, teacher prepara-
tion and qualifications, and the process for pro-
gram implementation in secondary schools. The
absence of a national study of ASL as a foreign
language in secondary schools had impacted the
implementation of ASL in the schools. A lack
of knowledge among public school administra-
tors nationwide regarding ASL as a language and
ASL foreign language programs prevented the
implementation of ASL programs and classes in
secondary schools (Clary, 2004; Reagan, 2000;
Wallinger, 2000). Pfeffier (2003) found that the
greatest obstacles to the implementation and ad-
ministration of ASL foreign language programs
in Virginia’s public secondary schools were a lack
of awareness among school administrators in ASL
as a foreign language, teacher qualifications, and
the availability of qualified teachers. Clary (2004)
also found a similar situation in southern Califor-
nia’s public secondary schools.
The present study sought to remedy this by
accessing information on classes, students, and
teachers in secondary schools that offer ASL for
foreign language credit. It is hoped here that such
information will aid school administrators and ed-
ucators to become aware of, and plan for imple-
menting, ASL in secondary schools.
SURVEY OF ASL AS A FOREIGN LANGUAGE
IN PUBLIC SECONDARY SCHOOLS
To gather information on the schools, classes,
students, and teachers of ASL as a foreign lan-
guage, Rosen (2005) conducted a survey. As men-
tioned earlier, the purpose of the survey was to as-
certain the breadth and scope of, and to discern
trends in, ASL as a foreign language in public
high schools nationwide in the following topical
areas: number and distribution of schools, teach-
ers, classes, students, and departments; types of
16 The Modern Language Journal 92 (2008)
curriculum and instruction; and the process for
program implementation.
For the survey, lists of schools that offered ASL
classes for foreign language credit were requested
and obtained from U.S. state education depart-
ments in late 2004 and early 2005. Out of the 50
states sent the request, 38 states responded, and
31 states provided the lists. Five responded saying
that there were no high schools within their states
that offered ASL foreign language programs. Two
other states responded, but did not tabulate such
lists. For the two states, an Internet search was
conducted. However, this search proved to be un-
reliable because of incomplete information and
frequent breakdown of Web sites. Lists contain-
ing names and addresses of close to 1,100 high
schools with ASL foreign language programs were
collected from the 31 respondent states. The lists
included all types of high schools such as public,
private, denominational, alternative, vocational–
technical, specialized, and special education high
schools. Because of financial and time constraints,
the population of high schools with ASL foreign
language programs was narrowed to a sample of
public, general education high schools.
Questionnaires were drawn that sought infor-
mation on the number of public general high
schools that offer ASL within the states, the year
ASL was implemented, order of establishment,
student enrollments, number of teachers, types
of ASL-related training teachers received, depart-
ments housing ASL classes, curricular materials
and instructional approaches used by teachers,
and the existence of an ASL club by the 2004–
2005 academic year. The survey questionnaire is
exhibited in Appendix A. Not all information in
the survey was requested for the year of the sur-
vey. In order to discern trends on student en-
rollments, classes, and teachers, information on
student enrollments, classes, and teachers was re-
quested for the 2002–2003 to 2004–2005 school
years. Information on program implementation
was requested for the year of its implementation.
Information for the projected year, 2005–2006,
will not be discussed here since there was an in-
sufficient number of responses. In addition, sur-
vey data on curriculum and instruction will not
be discussed here because of space limitation. Re-
sponses to the question on whether ASL was given
foreign language credit in a high school were used
to eliminate high schools that do not grant ASL
foreign language credit from analysis here.
Survey questionnaires were mailed in early 2005
to 628 schools in 31 states.2Out of the 628 schools
from 31 states, 226 responded from 18 states. The
response rates were 36% for respondents and 58%
for the states. The responses were tabulated for
analysis of trends. The following depiction of sur-
vey results was based on responses from the 226
respondent schools in 18 states. Trends on the na-
tional number of public high schools with ASL
foreign language programs, student enrollments,
classes, and teachers were based on information
from the respondent public high schools and were
multiplied in proportion to the number of high
schools in the states to reflect the current status of
ASL as a foreign language at the schools. Figures
for some states may be skewed due to insufficient
responses from high schools, and interpretation
ofresultsismadewiththiscaveat.
Number of High Schools Offering ASL for Foreign
Language Credit
The number of high schools with ASL foreign
language programs was drawn from the lists pro-
vided by state education departments from 31
states. Table 2 shows the number of public high
schools that offer ASL classes and programs for
foreign language credit.
Survey results showed that the total number of
such high schools in the United States was 701 as
of the 2004–2005 academic year for the 31 states
that provided the lists. The 701 high schools rep-
resented less than 64% of the 1,100 high schools
of all types with ASL foreign language programs
and classes in the United States.
The CAL survey showed 33 high schools in
1997. The growth rate in the number of high
schools with ASL programs in 2004 compared
with 1997 is more than 2100%. Not every state
had the same number of high schools with ASL
programs and classes. Washington State had the
highest number of such high schools, followed
by Texas, Florida, California, Ohio, and New
York. Few states had only one high school, such
as Alaska, Michigan, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Ver-
mont, Colorado, and North Carolina. No high
schools with ASL foreign language programs were
offered in Alabama, Delaware, Iowa, Tennessee,
and Wyoming.
The figures on the number of high schools
that offer ASL for foreign language credit are
meaningful only when they are compared with
the number of high schools that offer foreign
languages. This comparison helps determine the
presence of ASL as a foreign language in public
secondary schools and is a measure of the penetra-
tion of ASL in secondary school foreign language
programs. Based on available data on secondary
school foreign language programs, unfortunately,
it is not possible to discern the relative size of ASL
Russell S. Rosen 17
TABLE 2
Number of Public High Schools With ASL Classes,
by State, as of 2004–2005 (not Including Charter,
Denominational, Private, and Vocational Schools)
Washington 150
Texas 120
Florida 82
California 66
Ohio 63
New York 57
Virginia 32
Arizona 16
Indiana 13
Maine 13
New Jersey 11
Utah 9
Maryland 7
Massachusetts 7
New Mexico 7
West Virginia 7
Missouri 6
Illinois 5
Kansas 5
Kentucky 5
Connecticut 4
Minnesota 4
North Dakota 3
Wisconsin 2
Alaska 1
Michigan 1
Oregon 1
Pennsylvania 1
Vermo nt 1
Colorado 1
North Carolina 1
Alabama 0
Delaware 0
Iowa 0
Tennessee 0
Wyoming 0
National Total 701
programs. There were no national statistics in the
early 2000s on high school foreign language pro-
grams. Only the states of California and Indiana
provided statistics on their high schools with for-
eign language classes during the period. However,
the statistics were not sufficient in scope and were
not helpful in assessing the penetration of ASL
in secondary school foreign language programs.
California provided statistics on the number of
schools, teachers, and foreign language classes at
all levels, from kindergarten to secondary. Indiana
provided statistics on student enrollments for all
grades. Data from these statistics will be discussed
in later sections on teachers, classes, and students.
The figures on the number of high schools
with ASL classes are also meaningful in relation
to prevailing high school diploma requirements
within states. The question is whether offering
ASL for foreign language credit in a state is de-
pendent on whether foreign language is required
for its high school diploma. Appendix B lists
diploma requirements for foreign language by
state. Some of the information was provided by
Dounay (2002), and other information was gath-
ered by Web search. The figure shown was cur-
rent at the time of the survey, 2004–2005. There
have been changes in state certification and de-
gree requirements since the time of the survey.
Information on current state requirements for
high school diplomas is found on the Web site
of the National Council of State Supervisors For
Languages (http://www.NCSSFL.org).
To discern whether there is a relationship
between the prevalence of ASL offerings in
high school and foreign language requirements
for state high school diplomas, information
from state education regulations regarding for-
eign language requirements for diplomas from
Appendix B were compared with information on
state recognition of ASL as a foreign language
from Table 1 and data on state offerings of ASL for
foreign language credit from Table 2. The three
tables showed that states varied in the types of
diploma they award their graduating secondary
students.
Some states offered only one diploma and other
states offered more than one diploma. If a state of-
fered only one diploma, it usually required basic
academic skills courses such as English, math, sci-
ence, and social studies, and allowed local school
boards to add other requirements. In states that
offered only basic diplomas, the determination as
to whether to offer a foreign language as an ad-
ditional requirement in schools often was left to
the discretion of local school boards. If a state did
not require foreign language for any of its diplo-
mas, as found in states such as Arizona, Connecti-
cut, and Illinois (which offer only one diploma)
it did not mean that foreign languages, including
ASL, were not offered in its high schools. For-
eign languages often were required by the local
school boards to allow students to earn credits
for college admissions purposes and meet col-
lege admissions requirements. For instance, Illi-
nois did not require foreign language for its high
school diplomas, but its schools offered ASL for
foreign language credit, which was indicated on
student transcripts as “college readiness” credit.
Arizona did not require foreign language for
its high school diplomas, but its state educa-
tion department allocated eight credits to local
education agencies to add other requirements,
18 The Modern Language Journal 92 (2008)
such as foreign language, including ASL, for its
high school diplomas.
In addition, some states offered more than one
type of high school diploma. The states that of-
fered more than one diploma offered mostly a
basic diploma with concentration in math, sci-
ence, social studies, and English literacy, and
an advanced diploma with additional require-
ments. The advanced diploma was typically col-
lege preparatory, and the state often mandated
courses that allow its students meet college ad-
missions requirements, such as foreign languages.
States that required foreign language for its
high school college-preparatory diplomas often
offered ASL for foreign language credit. For in-
stance, California, Indiana, New York, Ohio, and
Virginia offered two diplomas, a basic diploma
and a college-preparatory diploma. Foreign lan-
guage credits were required only for the college-
preparatory diplomas, and ASL was offered for
foreign language credit in many of its high
schools.
States that did not require foreign language
for graduation and did not recognize ASL as a
foreign language did not offer ASL for foreign
language credit. Delaware and Wyoming are two
examples.
Furthermore, while state boards of education
set guidelines on graduation requirements for
diplomas, only local school boards, such as school
districts, formulated the requirements in credit
units and designated diplomas on behalf of state
boards of education. This explains the process of
securing ASL as a foreign language at the school
district level since the districts determined the re-
quirements for its diplomas in accordance with
state and local education laws.
Across states, it appears there was a disconnect
between the foreign language requirements for
high school diplomas and the offerings of ASL
for foreign language credit. If a state required for-
eign language credit for its diplomas, or at least for
its college-preparatory diplomas, it offered ASL
classes for foreign language credit. States that of-
fered one statewide diploma often did not require
foreign language study. However, such states ei-
ther offered foreign language classes, including
ASL, to help students prepare for college admis-
sions or they did not recognize or offer ASL.
The causal relationship between high school
ASL and colleges granting foreign language credit
for prior study for admission and graduation can-
not be discerned from this survey, but increased
high school enrollment in ASL classes seemed
to parallel increased college enrollments. As of
2005, about 150 national research universities ac-
cepted high school credit courses in ASL for ad-
mission purposes (Wilcox, 2006), and, compar-
ing the numbers from earlier and later years from
Wilcox and Wilcox’s lists (1997), the number of
such colleges and universities was growing. In-
creases in both high school and college enroll-
ments seemed to suggest that a growing number
of colleges and universities were granting foreign
language credit for high school courses.
In the following section, survey results are pre-
sented for the 226 public high schools from 18
states that responded to the questionnaire.
Establishment of ASL Foreign Language Programs
Respondents were asked about the process for
implementing ASL foreign language programs in
their high schools, with respect to who initiated
and who followed up on the process for program
implementation. The respondents were given six
possible implementation steps with the idea that a
different party would be responsible for each step.
These parties could refer to teachers, parents, stu-
dents, the principal, the school district, and the
community. Two of the respondents added other
parties, such as assistant principal and sign lan-
guage interpreter.
Results from the survey showed that, nation-
wide, the process typically began with teachers
from other fields who know ASL and want to
teach ASL as a foreign language. These teach-
ers took the first initiative and asked their stu-
dents, either individually or collectively in groups
such as an ASL club, about their interest in
taking ASL courses for foreign language credit.
The teachers and students then requested that
their principals create courses in ASL for for-
eign language credit at schools. After their re-
quests were received, the principals typically sur-
veyed parents for their support of ASL foreign
language programs. Once parents gave their sup-
port, the principals requested and secured ap-
proval from school districts. The school districts
then surveyed interested community members
and gave final approval for ASL foreign language
programs.
However, survey results showed that there were
variations across states and locales in the process
for establishing ASL programs and classes in pub-
lic secondary schools, both nonmainstreamed and
mainstreamed with D/HH. In addition, not ev-
ery state or school went through all parties. Any
one group could initiate or support ASL as a for-
eign language in schools. The following are two
examples of local advocacy and efforts leading to
implementation of ASL programs in high schools,
Russell S. Rosen 19
both familiar to the author. In the first case,
a chairperson of a Languages Other Than En-
glish (LOTE) department in a nonmainstreamed
school was intrigued by the possibility of offering
ASL for foreign language credit. He contacted the
New York State Education Department for infor-
mation on New York State diploma requirements
for ASL as a foreign language and for assistance
in locating teachers for the ASL classes. He met
with the school principal, and the principal pro-
vided support for the initiative. The school princi-
pal contacted his school district and received sup-
port. An advertisement was placed, a teacher was
hired, and ASL classes were formed. In the second
case, an ASL interpreter in a mainstreamed high
school with D/HH students queried the princi-
pal on whether the school could offer ASL to its
students. The principal contacted the chairper-
son of its LOTE department. They had a meeting
with the interpreter and decided on a survey to
assess student interest. They received a petition
with hundreds of signatures from the students.
Seeing student interest, the LOTE chairperson
provided support, and the principal contacted her
school district for permission to create and offer
credits for the ASL courses. She then formed two
classes with 15 students each, with plans to add
more courses as students moved to higher class
levels.
Results imply that different sources contributed
to program implementation. State and local vari-
ations such as needs, resources, availability, and
willingness of players and schools shaped the pro-
cess for the implementation of ASL programs.
The finding that the processes of program imple-
mentation varied across states and localities is in
agreement with the processes at the state level as
described in Pfeffier (2003), Selover (1988), and
Clary (2004).
As a result of efforts by members of the Deaf
community, students, and their parents, as well as
the support from principals and school districts,
an increasing number of American public high
schools established programs and classes in ASL as
a foreign language over the years. There were also
increases in the number of teachers and students
in public high school ASL programs.
Departments Housing ASL Foreign Language
Programs
The respondents also were asked to identify the
departments under which ASL classes and pro-
grams were housed in the 2004–2005 academic
year. They were given a list of departments in the
questionnaire, which included foreign, modern,
second, or world language department, special
education department, vocational education de-
partment, extracurricular clubs, schools for the
deaf, and other departments. The respondents
identified all departments that applied.
Survey results showed that ASL classes in high
schools were mostly housed in foreign language
departments. Nationally, 78% of the ASL classes
and programs were placed under the department
of foreign, modern, second, or world languages.
Less than 8% of ASL classes were housed in more
than one department. In some states, such as Illi-
nois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon,
and Pennsylvania, ASL classes and programs were
placed exclusively in high school foreign language
departments. In other states, such as New York,
Florida, Texas, and California, the percentage of
ASL classes and programs that were placed in
foreign language departments ranged from the
low 80s to the high 90s. The national percentages
were skewed by a few states where ASL was promi-
nently placed under departments other than for-
eign, modern, second, or world languages, such
as Washington and Maine. In Maine, some high
schools placed their ASL programs and classes in
a school for the deaf. The responses indicated
that no high school placed ASL programs and
classes under extracurricular clubs such as an ASL
or sign language club. That the ASL programs
were largely placed in foreign, modern, second,
or world language departments is a testament to
the acceptance of ASL as a foreign language and
to the recognition of ASL and the Deaf commu-
nity and culture within public high schools.
Students and Classes
Student Enrollment in ASL Classes. The respon-
dents were queried about the number of students
enrolled in ASL foreign language classes for the
academic years 2002–2003 to 2004–2005. Table 3
shows student enrollments in ASL classes. The fig-
ures for each state were then calculated to reflect
the current national trend.
Survey results revealed that the number of stu-
dents enrolled in ASL classes nationwide had risen
exponentially. Nationally, 56,783 high school stu-
dents enrolled in ASL classes in the school year
2002–2003, and 73,473 in 2004–2005. This rep-
resented a growth rate of 29.4% from 2002 to
2005. The states with the highest number of stu-
dent enrollments in the most recent school year,
2004–2005, were Texas, Florida, California, and
Washington. The states with the lowest number of
student enrollments were Connecticut and Ore-
gon. Almost all states showed increases in student
20 The Modern Language Journal 92 (2008)
TABLE 3
Number of Students Enrolled in ASL Classes in
Public High Schools, by Year
Number of Students
2002–2003 2003–2004 2004–2005
Arizona 2,446 2,446 2,446
California 8,132 9,178 11,174
Connecticut 71 71 71
Florida 10,614 11,103 12,656
Illinois 638 826 762
Indiana 2,180 2,233 2,375
Maine 1,117 1,794 1,563
Maryland 319 425 610
Massachusetts 230 230 592
New Jersey 248 564 773
New York 5,789 6,548 6,668
Ohio 4,222 6,090 6,009
Oregon 113 92 142
Pennsylvania NA NA 624
Texas 10,018 12,400 15,208
Utah 638 954 925
Virginia 2,868 2,868 2,737
Washington 7,140 7,374 8,139
National Total 56,783 65,196 73,473
Note. Figures are rounded to the nearest ones.
enrollments. The states with the highest rate of
increase in student enrollments from 2002–2003
to 2004–2005 were New Jersey with 212%, fol-
lowed by Texas with 51.7%, Utah with 45%, Ohio
with 42.3%, and California with 37.4%. Except
for Virginia, no state showed decreases in stu-
dent enrollment between 2002–2003 and 2004–
2005. Oregon showed a decline from 2002–2003
to 2003–2004, and Utah, Illinois, Maine, and Ohio
showed a decline in 2004–2005 compared with
2003–2004. Arizona and Connecticut exhibited
no growth in student enrollments across the years.
Data on student enrollment are meaningful
when compared with population sizes of the states
and student enrollments in other foreign lan-
guages. The question is whether student enroll-
ment size is dependent on the population of the
state and the number of high school students tak-
ing foreign language classes. Texas, for instance,
was larger in population size and had more stu-
dents taking ASL for foreign language than Con-
necticut, which suggests that enrollment size was
dependent on the population of the state and the
number of high school students taking foreign
language classes. To tease out possible relation-
ships between enrollment size for ASL and for
other foreign languages and the states’ popula-
tion sizes, information on population sizes and
total student enrollments for all foreign languages
is required.
The latest survey on the number of students
taking foreign language classes was conducted in
2000 by the National Center for Education Statis-
tics and was found in its Educational Longitu-
dinal Study of high school transcripts (United
States Department of Education, 2006). This in-
formation was not useful for making comparisons
with ASL student enrollments for the years cov-
ered in this survey. For the years since 2000, in-
formation on student enrollment in foreign lan-
guage classes was requested from state educa-
tion departments. Only California and Indiana
provided such information. California was larger
in population size than Indiana. In 2002–2003,
there were 798,438 students in California tak-
ing foreign language classes, which increased to
817,942 in 2003–2004, and 830,565 in 2004–2005
(California Department of Education, 2006a).
When these figures were compared with Table 3, it
was calculated that only 1% of California students
took ASL for foreign language credits in 2002–
2003, which increased to 1.6% in 2004–2005. In
Indiana, 121,192 students took foreign language
classes in 2002–2003, which increased to 126,599
in 2003–2004, and 132,896 in 2004–2005 (Indiana
Department of Education, 2006a). When these
figures were compared with Table 3, it was calcu-
lated that 1.9% of the Indiana students took ASL
for foreign language credit every year from 2002–
2003 to 2004–2005. The percentages of students
taking ASL for foreign language in these states
have hovered around 1–2% of the total foreign
language enrollment. Student enrollment in ASL
classes in a state was directly proportional to the
state’s population size, as shown in the student en-
rollment numbers for California and Indiana. In
these states, however, the proportion of students
enrolling in ASL classes out of total student en-
rollments in all foreign languages was similar.
Special Education Students in ASL Classes. While
there was demonstrated growth in the number of
students taking ASL for foreign language credit,
ASL courses also attracted a considerable percent-
age of special education students, that is, students
who received special education services at their
schools. Such students typically were designated
in the schools as “504” students as defined in Sec-
tion 504 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act of 1973,
which mandates schools to provide accommoda-
tions for students with disabilities. The growth in
ASL classes provided opportunities for students
with disabilities to interact with regular education
students. According to respondents’ comments in
Russell S. Rosen 21
TABLE 4
Percentage of Students in ASL Classes for Foreign
Language Credit Identified as Special Education
Students, by State, for the School Year 2004–2005
Special Education Students
2004–2005
Arizona 5
California 8
Connecticut 25
Florida 6
Illinois 10
Indiana 11
Maine 10
Maryland 1
Massachusetts 34
New Jersey 16
New York 15
Ohio 12
Oregon 15
Pennsylvania NA
Texas 1 4
Utah 10
Virginia 10
Washington 9
National 13
the survey, ASL courses attracted a relatively high
percentage of special education students with
deafness and learning and physical disabilities.
Table 4 shows the percentage of special education
students taking ASL classes for foreign language
credit. The figures were only for the school year
2004–2005.
Nationally, 13% of the students in ASL classes
were special education students. There were vari-
ations across states in the percentage of special
education students in ASL classes. Massachusetts
had the highest percentage of special education
students in ASL classes, followed by Connecticut,
New Jersey, New York, and Oregon. Maryland had
the lowest percentage of special education stu-
dents in ASL classes, followed by Arizona and
Florida.
The percentage of ASL students who were
D/HH could not be discerned from the respon-
dents’ comments. This study does not provide ev-
idence for the impact of D/HH in ASL classes
with hearing students on learning other foreign
languages. Further, the impact of mainstreaming
D/HH students in hearing classrooms on learn-
ing ASL and other languages could not be deter-
mined from the available survey results.
Number of ASL Classes. In concordance with
the increase in student enrollments over the years,
there was an increase in the number of ASL
TABLE 5
Number of Classes in ASL in Secondary High
Schools by Year
Number of Classes
2002–2003 2003–2004 2004–2005
Arizona 85 85 85
California 323 354 425
Connecticut 4 4 4
Florida 415 454 528
Illinois 32 43 39
Indiana 99 99 103
Maine 106 124 113
Maryland 11 14 29
Massachusetts 28 28 28
New Jersey 14 32 43
New York 330 347 351
Ohio 234 347 858
Oregon 7 7 7
Pennsylvania 21 21 21
Texas 642 748 822
Utah 21 32 43
Virginia 163 167 149
Washington 323 344 365
National Total 2,857 3,251 4,009
Note. Figures are rounded.
classes. Table 5 shows the number of ASL classes in
public high schools for the academic years 2002–
2003 to 2004–2005. The figures were recalculated
to reflect the national total.
The number of ASL classes had grown nation-
ally from 2,857 in 2002–2003 to 4,009 in 2004–
2005. This represented a growth rate of 40.3%
from 2002 to 2005. The states with the highest
number of ASL classes in the last year of the
survey, 2004–2005, were Ohio, followed by Texas,
Florida, California, and Washington. Connecticut
had the lowest number of ASL classes, followed by
Oregon. Almost all states showed increases in the
number of ASL classes. The states with the high-
est rate of increase in the number of ASL classes
from 2002–2003 to 2004–2005 were Ohio with
266.7%, New Jersey with 207%, Utah with 104.8%,
California with 31.6%, and Texas with 28%. The
exceptions are Illinois, Maine, and Virginia, all
of which showed a decline in 2004–2005 com-
pared with 2003–2004. A few states, such as Ari-
zona, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Oregon, and
Pennsylvania, exhibited no change in the num-
ber of ASL classes.
Figures on the number of ASL classes are mean-
ingful when compared with the total number of
classes in other foreign languages. Such compar-
ison is a measure of the capacity for teaching
ASL as a foreign language. However, there was no
22 The Modern Language Journal 92 (2008)
information at the national level on the number
of foreign language classes for the years covered
in the survey. At the state level, only California
provided information. For 2002–2003, California
offered 26,377 foreign language classes, which de-
creased slightly to 26,372 classes in 2003–2004,
and increased to 27,113 in 2004–2005 (Califor-
nia Department of Education, 2006a). The per-
centage of foreign language classes that are ASL
classes in California in Table 5 increased from
1% in 2002–2003 to a little below 2% in 2004–
2005. This suggests that, at least in California, the
proportion of ASL classes compared to other for-
eign languages increased, but ASL’s penetration
into secondary foreign language programs was
low.
Levels of ASL Classes. There was also an in-
crease in the number of levels of ASL classes
offered in public high schools. Each level cor-
responds to 1 year of study. For instance, if the
response is two levels, it means 2 years of study.
The respondents were asked about the number
of levels of ASL classes for the academic years
2002–2003 to 2004–2005. Nationally, survey re-
sults showed that the average number of levels of
ASL classes has grown from 2.3 levels in 2002–
2003 to 2.4 in 2004–2005. This represented a
growth rate of a little more than 4% from 2002 to
2005. In other words, an average of about 2 to 2.5
years of study in ASL was offered in public high
schools nationwide. The states with the highest
number of levels of ASL classes in the last school
year of the survey, 2004–2005, were Pennsylvania
with four levels, followed by Utah with more than
three levels, and Virginia and Texas with close to
three levels. Connecticut had the lowest number
of levels of ASL classes, with one level, followed
by Maine, with just under two levels. The states
with the highest rate of increase in the number
of levels of ASL classes from 2002–2003 to 2004–
2005 were Maryland with 100% and California,
Washington, New York, and Indiana with a range
of 13% to 17%. Some states, such as New Jersey
and Utah, showed declines. A few states, such as
Connecticut, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Penn-
sylvania, exhibited no growth.
If the figures are compared with the in-
formation on diploma requirements shown in
Appendix B, it can be seen that the number of
levels of ASL classes was commensurate with the
number of years of foreign language study re-
quired by state and local education boards. This
was true for states that offered high school college-
preparatory diplomas as well as for states that of-
fered only basic diplomas with additional require-
ments for their college-bound students.
Teachers, Degrees, and Certifications
The following depicts survey results on the
number of teachers; their highest degrees, fields
of collegiate study, and teacher certification;
courses and workshops they took; and years of
teaching experience.
Number of FTE Teachers. The number of teach-
ers of ASL also had increased over the years.
Table 6 shows the number of ASL teachers, mea-
sured in FTE (full-time equivalency), which is a
more accurate indicator of the employment situ-
ation of teachers than head counts, by states for
the years 2002–2003 to 2004–2005. To reflect the
national trend in the 701 high schools, the figures
were totaled.
In 2002–2003, the number of FTE teachers na-
tionwide was 592. The number of FTE teachers
grew to 723 in 2004–2005. This represented an
increase of 22% from 2002–2003 to 2004–2005.
Texas had the highest number of FTE teachers
across the years, followed by Florida, New York,
and California. Connecticut had fewer than one
FTE teacher from 2002 to 2005. The fastest growth
TABLE 6
Number of Full-Time Equivalency (FTE) Teachers,
by State
Teach e r s i n F T E
2002–2003 2003–2004 2004–2005
Arizona 21 21 21
California 62 71 86
Connecticut 1 1 1
Florida 96 92 110
Illinois 4 11 7
Indiana 21 25 25
Maine 19 23 23
Maryland 4 4 4
Massachusetts 6 6 6
New Jersey 4 11 12
New York 78 79 83
Ohio 50 63 80
Oregon 4 4 4
Pennsylvania 4 4 4
Texas 119 131 147
Utah 4 4 6
Virginia 39 39 39
Washington 59 61 66
National Total 592 648 723
Note. Figures are rounded.
Russell S. Rosen 23
in the number of FTEs between 2002–2003 and
2004–2005 was in New Jersey, which had a growth
rate of 200%, followed by Ohio, with a 60% growth
rate, and Utah with 50%. In many states, such as
Maine, New York, and Washington, the number
of FTEs had little growth. In other states, such as
Arizona, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts,
Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, the number
had not grown at all. One state, Illinois, showed an
increase in the number of FTEs from 2002–2003
but a decline from 2003–2004 to 2004–2005. It is
suspected that the demonstrated lack of growth
for these states was skewed by the low rate of re-
sponses to survey questionnaires; few schools in
those states responded, and the figures reflected
the FTE situation in the respondent schools.
The data on the number of FTEs are better un-
derstood as a proportion of total number of teach-
ers, both in ASL and other foreign languages. The
question is whether the proportion of teachers
who were counted as FTEs is a function of ca-
pacity for teaching, student interest, and/or atti-
tude toward ASL as a foreign language. To tease
out possible relationships between the number of
teacher FTEs and the capacity for teaching, stu-
dent interest, and/or attitude toward ASL as a for-
eign language, respondents were asked about the
number of teachers and FTEs. Several schools ei-
ther provided FTEs without providing the number
of teachers or provided the number of teachers
without providing the number of FTEs. Schools
elected to supply either the number of teachers
or the number of FTEs because of confidentiality
or certification issues. For the purpose of making
a valid comparison between the number of teach-
ers and FTEs, only the total number of teachers
and FTEs were counted for a school if the school
provided information on both in the survey ques-
tionnaire. Percentage statistics on FTEs by total
number of ASL teachers were compiled.
The number of ASL teachers and FTEs was
not the same. Nationally, the number of teach-
ers exceeded the number of FTE positions, for
an average of 0.91 FTE position per teacher. In
other words, 91% of the reported ASL teaching
positions were FTE. Of the 18 respondent states,
Indiana, Maryland, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and
Virginia carried a 100% FTE–teacher ratio. Cal-
ifornia, Florida, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania,
and Texas carried an FTE–teacher ratio that ex-
ceeded 90%. Connecticut had the lowest FTE–
teacher ratio at 20%. The states with the lowest
FTE–teacher ratio might experience attitudinal
or student interest barriers to ASL as a foreign
language. It appears that in these states the sup-
ply of teachers, as measured by total number, ex-
ceeded the demand for teachers as measured in
FTE. In addition, it is clear that the number of
FTEs did not necessarily correspond to the size of
the state. California was larger than Maryland and
Texas, but Maryland and Texas carried a higher
FTE–teacher ratio than California. As such, the
difference among states’ FTE–teacher ratios did
not reflect different population sizes, but may
have reflected differences in attitudes, capacity
for teaching, requirements for foreign language
in secondary schools, and recognition of ASL as a
foreign language.
There was no information at the national level
on the number of foreign language teachers for
the years 2003 to 2005. Only one state, California,
provided such statistics. In 2002–2003, California
had 5,238 foreign language teacher FTEs, which
increased to 5,309 in 2003–2004 and 5,429 in
2004–2005 (California Department of Education,
2006b). When compared with the number of ASL
teacher FTEs for the same years using the data in
Table 6, only about 1% of foreign language teach-
ers were teachers of ASL in 2002–2003, which in-
creased to about 2% in 2004–2005. The figures
show that the proportion of ASL teaching posi-
tions in relation to foreign language teaching po-
sitions increased over the years, but the penetra-
tion of ASL teaching positions in schools was low,
at least in California.
The information on FTE teachers is also better
understood as a proportion of total classes. The
number of ASL classes taught by FTE teachers is
a measure of teacher capacity for teaching ASL
as a foreign language. Survey results showed that
the national average number of classes per FTE
teacher was five. However, the average number of
classes per teacher varied by state. Maryland had
the highest number of classes, six, per teacher.
Connecticut had the lowest number, which was
one class per teacher. Most states’ averages fell
between five to six classes per FTE teacher, but
others fell between four to five classes. There was
a discrepancy across states between the average
number of classes per FTE teacher and per total
number of teachers. This suggests that the states
where the average number of classes per FTE was
below the national average largely hired teachers
either on a part-time basis or to teach other sub-
jects in addition to ASL.
The question remains whether the teaching
load for ASL teachers is comparable with the
teaching load for other foreign language teach-
ers. There was no national information on the
number of classes per foreign language teacher.
California was the only state that provided
such information. On average, California foreign
24 The Modern Language Journal 92 (2008)
TABLE 7
Percentages of Teachers With Highest Degrees
Highest Degrees
BA/BS MA/MS/MEd
Arizona 0 71
California 66 34
Connecticut 0 100
Florida 65 29
Illinois 33 67
Indiana 29 57
Maine 43 57
Maryland 0 50
Massachusetts 0 100
New Jersey 0 75
New York 8 92
Ohio 43 43
Oregon 0 100
Pennsylvania 0 100
Texas 4 8 40
Utah 0 100
Virginia 60 40
Washington 17 48
National 39 50
Note. Statistics are not extrapolated in this table.
Figures are rounded. BA =Bachelor of Arts;
BS =Bachelor of Science; MA =Master of Arts;
MS =Master of Science; MEd =Master of Education.
language teachers taught about five classes in
2002–2005 (California Department of Education,
2006b). It appears that, at least in California, the
number of classes per FTE teacher was similar for
ASL and other foreign language teachers. A possi-
bility existed that states’ practices on FTE teaching
course load were based on local education regu-
lations and teacher union contracts with school
districts.
Highest Degree Earned. Different levels of de-
grees were earned by ASL secondary school teach-
ers. Table 7 shows the highest degrees earned by
teachers for the 2004–2005 school year.
Nationally, just over a third of teachers of ASL
in public high schools earned as their highest de-
gree a bachelor’s degree such as a Bachelor of Arts
or Bachelor of Science; half the teachers earned
a master’s degree, such as a Master of Arts, Mas-
ter of Science, or Master of Education. About a
tenth of the teachers did not possess a collegiate
degree.
The remaining question is whether teachers of
ASL in a given state earned degrees to teach in
secondary schools in commensuration with the
state’s minimum degree requirements of all of
its secondary school teachers. Appendix C shows
state requirements for teacher certification at
the secondary level. There were variations across
states in the highest degree level they required
for teachers of secondary schools. If figures in
Table 8 on ASL teachers’ highest degree earned
are compared with information in Appendix C
on state requirements for teacher certification, it
is seen that the highest degree earned by teachers
of ASL was in agreement with state minimum de-
gree requirements for secondary school teachers.
States varied in the percentage of ASL teachers for
each degree level in accordance with state mini-
mum degree requirements for teachers. For in-
stance, California, Florida, Texas, and Virginia re-
quired a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and had
a higher percentage of teachers with a bachelor’s
degree than a master’s degree. In other states,
only teachers with a master’s degree were eligi-
ble to teach in secondary schools. For instance,
Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Utah were such states
where 100% of ASL teachers possessed a mas-
ter’s degree. However, in some states, there was an
equal percentage of teachers at each degree level;
Ohio was one instance, and it required a mini-
mum of a bachelor’s degree to teach. Apparently,
the hiring of teachers for ASL classes was largely
contingent on the teachers’ earning the highest
degrees required for teacher certification in their
states.
Fields of Collegiate Study. Respondents were
asked about the fields of study in which ASL teach-
ers earned their highest degrees by 2004–2005.
Survey results revealed that at the national level,
ASL teachers earned their highest degrees in ei-
ther deafness- or disability-related fields, with a
few in the field of ASL teaching. Half the teachers
earned their highest degrees in deafness-related
fields such as Deaf education, interpreter train-
ing programs (ITP), ASL studies, and Deaf stud-
ies. Thirty-five percent of teachers earned their
highest degrees in the field of Deaf education,
less than 8% in ASL studies, and 5% each in
ITP and Deaf studies programs. Less than 7%
of ASL teachers earned their highest degrees in
disability-related fields other than deafness, such
as special education. Four percent of the teach-
ers earned their highest degrees in elementary
education. The percentages of different fields of
study in which ASL teachers earned their high-
est degrees varied across states. All ASL teachers
in Pennsylvania earned their highest degrees in
the field of ASL Studies. Oregon had the highest
percentage of ASL teachers who studied Deaf ed-
ucation, followed by Illinois, Arizona, and Maine.
The figures suggest that in these states, schools
Russell S. Rosen 25
TABLE 8
Percentages of Teachers in Certification Areas
Certification
MultiCertif DeafEd ITP ASL ElemEd SpEd K–12 Other ASLTA
Arizona 14 14 0 0 0 29 14 14 14
California 14 7 3 3 3 10 24 10 0
Connecticut 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 100
Florida 23 35 0 0 7 19 7 35 6
Illinois 67 100 0 0 0 0 100 0 0
Indiana 29 29 14 14 0 0 14 14 29
Maine 0 14 14 14 0 0 0 43 29
Maryland 50 50 0 0 0 0 0 0 50
Massachusetts 0 0 0 50 0 0 0 0 0
New Jersey 0 25 0 25 0 0 0 0 0
New York 68 44 4 76 16 20 24 8 0
Ohio 19 48 10 24 0 0 14 5 5
Oregon 0 0 0 0 0 100 0 0 0
Pennsylvania 0 100 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Texas 4 8 3 3 1 9 4 3 12 10 1 7 7 2
Utah 100 50 0 50 50 0 100 50 0
Virginia 30 20 20 10 0 10 20 20 30
Washington 22 4 9 0 9 13 43 30 0
National 79 28 8 22 7 11 21 16 6
Note. Statistics are not extrapolated in this table. Teachers frequently hold certification in more than one
area. Figures are rounded and do not add up to 100%. MultiCertif =Multiple Certification; DeafEd =Deaf
Education; ITP =Interpreter Training Programs; ASL =American Sign Language; ElemEd =Elementary
Education; SpEd =Special Education; K–12 =Kindergarten through 12th grade; ASLTA =American Sign
Language Teachers Association.
drew teachers mostly from deafness-related pro-
grams and services (cf. Rosen, 2006). However,
there were exceptions. For instance, California
had the lowest percentage of teachers from
deafness-related fields. The rest came from a scat-
tering of fields such as elementary education
and noneducational fields. There were no states
in which ASL teachers earned their highest de-
grees exclusively in areas other than deafness- or
disability-related fields.
Teacher Certification. Most teachers of ASL hold
more than one teacher certification. Table 8 shows
the fields in which ASL teachers received teacher
certification; figures were only for the 2004–2005
school year.
Nationally, close to 80% of teachers held more
than one certification. Most of the ASL teachers
held certification in Deaf education, followed by
ASL teaching, K–12 general education, and areas
other than deafness- or disability-related fields. Six
percent of the teachers possessed ASLTA certifi-
cates. There was variation across states in the ex-
tent to which teachers of ASL were certified in
the field of ASL teaching. In New York State, one
of the few states that provided teacher certifica-
tion in ASL as a foreign language by 2005, about
three quarters of FTE teachers were certified in
the field of ASL teaching. In Texas, less than half
the teachers were certified. In New Jersey, only a
quarter of the teachers were certified. The results
suggest a dearth of teachers who were trained,
qualified, and certified to teach ASL as a foreign
language. They were largely trained in Deaf ed-
ucation, ASL and Deaf studies, or sign language
interpreting.
Does teacher certification possessed by teach-
ers of ASL correspond with state require-
ments for teacher certification for teachers of
ASL as a foreign language? It was found that
teacher certifications provided by state educa-
tion departments were dependent on prevail-
ing teacher qualifications and requirements for
the states. As Appendix C shows, only the states
of New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Utah
required a master’s degree; the other states re-
quired a bachelor’s degree. In New York, Texas,
Maryland, and Virginia, certification in ASL was
required for those intending to teach it. In
these states, there was a higher proportion of
26 The Modern Language Journal 92 (2008)
teachers who possessed both the minimum ed-
ucation level mandated by those states and ASL
teacher certifications. There was no teacher certi-
fication in ASL available in other states.
In the states where teaching certification in ASL
was unavailable, an “endorsement in ASL” was
added. An endorsement in ASL required the com-
pletion of content and pedagogical courses, and
passing of content and pedagogical skills exami-
nations. Transcript review was conducted to assess
completion of pedagogical and content courses.
As Appendix C shows, each state that underwent
transcript review required a certain number of
semester hours of coursework related to ASL.
The coursework largely covered the following ar-
eas: ASL linguistics, second language acquisition,
Deaf community and culture, Deaf studies, Deaf
and ASL arts and literature, teaching methods,
instructional planning and strategies, curriculum
development, assessment, psychology of youth,
psychology of learning, and principles of teach-
ing and learning. States varied in the number of
courses and credit hours required for endorse-
ment. In Arizona, 30 credits of pedagogy and 24
credits of ASL-related courses were required. In
Illinois, 16 credits of pedagogy courses and 32
credits of content courses were required. In New
Jersey, 30 credit hours of content courses and
33 credits of pedagogy courses were required. In
such states, in addition to coursework, a content
skills examination needed to be taken. States var-
ied in examinations: Arizona required the Ari-
zona Basic Skills Test, Illinois required the Illi-
nois Test of Basic Skills, and Massachusetts re-
quired a Massachusetts Test for Educator Li-
censure. Maine, Oregon, Massachusetts, and
Pennsylvania required the Praxis Pre-Professional
Skills Test. Since these examinations assess basic
skills in math and English literacy, many states,
such as Florida, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and
Oregon, required that potential teachers of ASL
demonstrate knowledge and skills in ASL and
ASL pedagogy. They required that the potential
teachers take a nationally recognized assessment
instrument for conversational skills in ASL such
as the Sign Communication Proficiency Interview
(SCPI).
For the states that provided teacher certifica-
tion in ASL, teachers who possessed teacher cer-
tification in areas other than ASL, such as special
education, Deaf education, and speech-language
pathology, were allowed to add an endorsement in
ASL after completing a certain number of courses
and credit hours and taking the content certifica-
tion exam in ASL. In addition, some states such
as Florida, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Oregon,
and Texas accepted ASLTA certification as an en-
dorsement in lieu of coursework.
There was a variation across states on teacher
qualifications to teach ASL as a foreign language
in secondary schools, but there was a relationship
between teacher qualifications and teacher certifi-
cation requirements within states. In states that of-
fered teacher certification in ASL as a foreign lan-
guage, higher percentages of teachers possessed
such certification. In states that did not offer such
certification, but offered an endorsement, teach-
ers mostly followed the state’s requirements for
endorsement. In states where there was no certi-
fication or endorsement, but ASL was recognized
as a foreign language, an ASLTA certification was
typically accepted.
There might be a relationship between the poli-
cies of the various states on foreign language
teaching certification and the prevalence of ASL
classes. It was apparent from the data in Table
5 and Appendix C that the prevalence of ASL
classes was somewhat associated with state poli-
cies on foreign language teacher certification.
TherewasahigherprevalenceofASLclassesin
states with ASL teacher certification or endorse-
ment than in states that did not have ASL teacher
certification or endorsement. For instance,
New York had ASL teacher certification, and
California, Ohio, Texas, and Florida have ASL en-
dorsement. These states have a higher number of
high schools offering ASL for foreign language
credit than states such as Arizona that did not
have ASL teacher certification or endorsement.
However, the relationship between states’ policies
on teacher certification and prevalence of ASL
classes may be spurious in some states. For in-
stance, California did not have ASL certification
or endorsement but had a higher prevalence of
ASL classes than New York State, which required
ASL teacher certification. If there was no teacher
certification or endorsement in ASL in a state,
and if the state did not recognize ASL, the state
did not offer ASL for foreign language credit. An
example was Delaware.
The provision of teacher certification and en-
dorsement might be a function of states’ for-
eign language requirements for high school diplo-
mas. To assess this, Appendix C on state re-
quirements of teacher certification was com-
pared with Appendix B on states’ foreign lan-
guage requirement for high school diplomas. It
is clearly seen that teacher certification and en-
dorsement were provided for ASL in states that
require foreign language, particularly for college-
preparatory diplomas, such as New York, Califor-
nia, and New Jersey. None were provided in the
Russell S. Rosen 27
states that did not require foreign language study
for any of their diplomas, such as Connecticut
and Maine. States that did not require foreign
language study for any of their diplomas had
no teacher certification or endorsement in ASL.
In states that did not require foreign language
study for diplomas, but whose high schools of-
fered ASL classes to aid students with earning
college-preparatory credits, such as Connecticut,
ASLTA certification was frequently adopted in
lieu of state certification for high school teachers
of ASL.
Years of Teaching Experience. The respondents
were asked about the average number of years
of experience in ASL and other fields teachers
had by the 2004–2005 academic year. Survey re-
sults showed that nationally, the average number
of years of experience was about 6 years. The aver-
age number of years of experience teaching ASL
varied across states. Pennsylvania teachers had
the highest number of years of experience teach-
ing ASL with 28 years, and Illinois teachers had
the lowest number with 3 years. Since there were
schools in Illinois that offered ASL for foreign
language credit more than 3 years ago, the results
imply that there might be a higher turnover of
teachers of ASL in Illinois. The average number of
years of experience in other fields was close to 15
years. States varied in the average years of teaching
experience among its teachers in fields other than
ASL. Connecticut teachers had the highest num-
ber of years of experience with 27 years of teach-
ing in fields other than ASL. None of the teachers
in Oregon and Pennsylvania had taught in fields
other than ASL. It suggests that teachers of ASL,
at least in states other than Oregon and Pennsyl-
vania, were recruited either from other teaching
fields, straight from college, or from nonteaching
employment to teach ASL.
Courses and Workshops. Respondents were
asked to identify the courses and workshops they
took as part of their preparation to teach ASL
by 2004–2005. Information on courses and work-
shops was requested in order to assess the knowl-
edge and skills of ASL teachers. Courses and work-
shops typically were taken in colleges and univer-
sities, but workshops also were offered at confer-
ences and meetings in hotels and agencies. The
teachers were given a list of ASL-related courses
and workshops to identify, including second lan-
guage acquisition, linguistics of ASL, Deaf com-
munity and culture, Deaf and ASL arts and liter-
ature, methods and materials in the teaching of
ASL, and assessment in ASL and Deaf community
and culture.
Results from the questionnaire revealed varia-
tion in the percentage of teachers who took such
courses and workshops. Nationally, three quarters
of the teachers took courses in Deaf community
and culture, a little more than half of the teach-
ers took courses in linguistics of ASL, a little more
than a third of the teachers in second language ac-
quisition, and less than a quarter in methods and
materials. In addition, most teachers took courses
more than workshops in the linguistics of ASL
and Deaf community and culture, and workshops
more than courses in Deaf and ASL arts and liter-
ature, second language acquisition, and methods
and materials in teaching ASL. More than half
took coursework in linguistics of ASL and Deaf
community and culture, and more than half at-
tended workshops in Deaf and ASL arts and liter-
ature, second language acquisition, and methods
and materials.
Teachers varied across states in the proportion
of courses and workshops they took. In one ex-
treme case, all teachers in Florida have taken
courses and workshops in all areas. In another ex-
treme case, Massachusetts teachers took courses
only in Deaf community and culture and no
courses and workshops in other areas. Teachers
in other states showed a variety of percentages of
courses and workshops in each area taken, the
discussion of which is beyond the scope of this
study.
ASL Clubs
ASL Club Statistics and Activities. Survey re-
sults showed that half the schools had an ASL
club as of 2004–2005. The respondents com-
mented in the survey questionnaires that their
ASL clubs offered a myriad of activities that pro-
vided opportunities for socializing between sign-
ing hearing and D/HH students within and out-
side school buildings. The activities were student
visits to schools for the Deaf, participation in lo-
cal and national Deaf community activities, Deaf
guest speakers at the schools, and “pen-pal” pro-
grams where hearing students in ASL classes con-
nected with their deaf counterparts from schools
for the Deaf through the use of instant messag-
ing and email on computers. The respondents
remarked in the survey how ASL clubs have en-
couraged D/HH and hearing students to interact
as they proceed in learning ASL. In other words,
ASL classes and clubs in public high schools
seemed to be the places where signing D/HH and
28 The Modern Language Journal 92 (2008)
hearing students interacted on a daily basis
(Rosen, 2006).
DISCUSSION
There has been growth in the number of high
schools that offer ASL for foreign language credit
since 2000. There were increases in the number
and distribution of ASL programs, number and
levels of classes, and number of teachers and stu-
dents in public secondary schools in the years cov-
ered in this survey, namely 2002 to 2005. The im-
petus was the mainstreaming of signing D/HH
students as originally mandated by IDEA. The
presence of sign language interpreters and sign-
ing D/HH students created interest among hear-
ing teachers and students in the lives, language,
community, and culture of the American deaf peo-
ple. The interest among hearing teachers and stu-
dents generated the process for state recognition
of ASL as a foreign language and for implementa-
tion of foreign language programs and classes in
ASL in general education schools, although the
process varied across states and localities. There
was no indication in the survey as to which states
were the first ones to approve ASL for high school
credit. Survey results suggest that the schools drew
teachers largely from deafness-related programs
to teach ASL. The teachers were the original cre-
ators of the ASL-as-a-foreign-language space in
public high schools (Rosen, 2006).
Future trends for ASL programs in public sec-
ondary schools nationwide were discerned based
on respondents’ comments. The respondents pro-
vided information about the date of establishment
of their ASL programs. Of the 188 high school
respondents, 9 were established in 1992, which
grew to 123 in 2000. This represented a growth
of more than 1200% between 1992 and 2000, and
more than 50% from 2000 to 2004. In addition,
there was a 6% growth in the number from 2003
to 2004. The growth had its peaks and valleys;
the trend in the growth was cyclical. The growth
rate for each state using year-by-year comparisons
would be too cumbersome to calculate here. In
some states, the numbers were stable, and in other
states, they declined. Those figures suggest that
the number of high schools that implement pro-
grams in ASL as a foreign language will continue
to increase at the national level in the near fu-
ture. Based on the national annual growth rate,
the number of public high schools with ASL pro-
grams may reach more than 1,000 within a decade.
This increase will co-occur with increases in stu-
dent enrollment, classes, and teachers. Compared
to other foreign languages, as indicated by the to-
tal number of foreign language teachers and stu-
dent enrollments, the penetration of ASL in for-
eign language programs in secondary schools was
negligible but currently is growing. The increased
number of states that recognize ASL as a foreign
language, coupled with the placement of ASL
programs and classes largely in foreign language
departments, attest to the increased acceptance
of ASL for foreign language credit in secondary
schools.
The future trends for ASL programs at the
state level may be shaped by local processes such
as consolidation, expansion by fission or fusion,
and suspension of programs. For instance, public
high schools with ASL foreign language programs
in Maine were being consolidated and adminis-
tered by one high school. In New York, some high
schools have grown and split into smaller high
schools, and its ASL programs followed. Popula-
tion growth in Florida created the construction
of more high schools, and ASL programs were
expanded to newly built high schools. A very few
high school ASL programs were suspended for ei-
ther budgetary reasons or lack of qualified teach-
ers. The trends also may be shaped by states’
recognition of ASL for foreign language credit
and policies on student diploma requirements.
According to survey results, there was a relation-
ship between states’ policies on foreign language
requirements and the offering of ASL classes for
foreign language credit. The results suggest that
states generally did not require foreign language
study for their basic diplomas, but required it for
advanced or college-preparatory diplomas. Not all
states offered college-preparatory diplomas. How-
ever, the states that did not require foreign lan-
guage for any of their diplomas often permitted
schools to offer foreign language classes in or-
der to ensure that students met college entrance
requirements.
In states that required foreign language for
graduation, classes in ASL typically were offered
for foreign language credit. It depended on states’
recognition of ASL. States that recognized ASL
as a foreign language and that generally re-
quired study of a foreign language were more
likely to permit ASL to be offered in schools for
credit than states that had less stringent require-
ments. States that required foreign language for
college-preparatory diplomas mostly offered ASL
for foreign language credit. There is no difference
between states in the prevalence and levels of ASL
classes if they recognized ASL and required for-
eign language study for graduation.
States that did not require foreign language for
any of their diplomas mostly did not offer ASL
Russell S. Rosen 29
for foreign language credit. However, if a state
required foreign language study but did not rec-
ognize ASL as a foreign language, ASL was not
offered for foreign language credit in its high
schools.
Survey results and respondents’ comments pro-
vide information for schools considering imple-
menting ASL programs in the future. The results
showed mechanisms at the local level in estab-
lishing ASL classes for foreign language credit
in secondary schools. Principals and school dis-
tricts held the final decision since they deter-
mined student graduation requirements in addi-
tion to their states’ requirements, and they ascer-
tained whether ASL could be offered for foreign
language credit. If ASL classes can be offered
in their schools, the principals, coordinators of
foreign language departments, and teachers in
schools can garner student interest and find avail-
able teachers who are certified to teach ASL as
a second language. ASL interpreters can provide
assistance particularly in mainstreamed schools. A
survey can be given by the schools to assess student
interest in taking ASL for foreign language credit.
Once student interest is deemed by the principal
as justifying a class, locating teachers would be the
logical next step.
The teachers need to be knowledgeable about
ASL, ASL and English linguistics, second lan-
guage acquisition, curriculum, instruction and as-
sessment, history, sociology and anthropology of
Deaf community and culture, and ASL and Deaf
arts and literature. The availability of teachers with
qualifications to teach ASL in secondary schools
depends on mechanisms provided by the states for
individuals to become teachers. To assess whether
there are mechanisms provided by the states for
individuals to become teachers of ASL, the re-
lationship between states’ recognition of ASL as
a foreign language and their requirements and
provisions for teacher certification needs exami-
nation. Table 1 on state recognition of ASL for
foreign language credit was compared with Ap-
pendix C on state requirements for teacher cer-
tification. This comparison shows that states that
recognize ASL for foreign language credit usu-
ally provide mechanisms for teachers of ASL to
obtain either a certification or an endorsement
from state education departments to teach in sec-
ondary schools. However, the type of certification
varies across states. If a state has a teacher certifi-
cation in ASL, its teachers usually are certified in
ASL. If a state has no teacher certification, it may
add an endorsement in ASL to its certificates. In
the states that do not offer a certification or an en-
dorsement, they may accept a certification from
ASLTA. In other words, if a state recognizes ASL
and/or permits it to be taken for foreign language
credit for its diplomas, the state often offers ASL
classes for foreign language credit and provides
either certification or endorsement, or accepts
ASLTA certification, for individuals to teach ASL.
The states that do not recognize ASL as a foreign
language do not offer ASL classes, teacher certi-
fication, and endorsement, and do not recognize
any certification from outside organizations such
as ASLTA.
After teachers are identified, ASL classes may
be formed with interested students. Principals and
school administrators would need to ensure that
there are Deaf communities around the schools so
that they may be able to take students to Deaf com-
munity activities, and so that they can draw deaf
individuals from the communities to speak to stu-
dents in classes. In order to expand the classes into
a fully fledged, three- or four-level ASL program,
and to generate and maintain student interest,
ASL clubs, demonstrations of signing classes in
school assembly and auditorium-sited functions,
and other club activities that were outlined in the
section on ASL clubs, would need to be imple-
mented.
Finally, schools need to be aware of college en-
trance requirements, particularly at national re-
search universities. There are about 150 national
universities as of 2005 that recognize ASL for
admissions purposes. Junior and community col-
leges largely do not require foreign language for
admission.
REMAINING ISSUES FOR FURTHER STUDY
Several remaining issues, particularly in the
field of ASL teaching, necessitate further inves-
tigation. The future growth of ASL secondary
school programs requires more teachers trained,
qualified, and certified to teach ASL in secondary
schools. The survey contained information on de-
grees and areas of collegiate study and certifica-
tion of teachers of ASL. Survey results revealed
that only less than a quarter nationally have de-
grees and certifications in ASL teaching. This
finding suggests inconsistencies among teachers
of ASL in their training and certifications. In ad-
dition, the survey contained no information of
the hearing status of teachers, their proficiency in
ASL, and their preparation in practicum courses
in ASL teaching. The inconsistencies in teacher
training and certifications raise several ques-
tions on the teachers’ qualifications, proficiency
in ASL, and preparation in ASL teaching, the
resolution of which lies outside the scope of this
30 The Modern Language Journal 92 (2008)
study but may be of use to the field in its future
studies.
Studies show deaf people, primarily those who
are native users of ASL, were at a disadvantage in
accessing higher education (Moores, 2001). They
may not have access to careers in teaching ASL as
a foreign language. Given the disadvantage that
ASL-using deaf people face in access to higher
education, it is likely that many teachers of ASL,
with backgrounds in special education or Deaf
education, may be hearing and nonnative signers
but with interest in ASL.
What is not known from the survey is how the
proficiency of ASL teachers compares with the
proficiency of spoken language teachers on the
ACTFL scale. There are sign variants used among
deaf people other than ASL as used among native
signers who grew up in the Deaf community. They
are Contact Sign Language and manual variants
of spoken English such as Signed English. What
needs to be investigated is the form of sign lan-
guage the teachers learned during their scholastic
studies and the form of sign language they taught
and used in their ASL-as-a-foreign-language class-
rooms.
Survey results showed a low percentage of
teachers who attended teacher preparatory pro-
grams in ASL teaching. Two of the courses that
are crucial to teacher preparation are methods
and practicum courses. It is possible that there was
a lack of access to appropriate teaching method-
ology for describing syntactic and grammatical
features of ASL. It appears that there is an issue
with teachers with the lack of methodological ex-
pertise. This may have consequences for students
learning ASL. A student who learns ASL misses an
opportunity to learn language features that offer
distinct contrasts to his or her first language and
that enable the student to develop language learn-
ing skills that can be applied to other languages.
The inconsistencies in teacher qualifications at
the national level may reflect inadequacies in the
proficiency and preparation of teachers. Survey
results showed a paucity of well-trained and highly
qualified teachers of ASL in secondary schools. A
number of high schools reported in the survey
that they were forced to suspend ASL programs
and classes due to the lack of qualified, certified
teachers as per the No Child Left Behind (2001)
provisions. Recently, there were increased calls
among public secondary schools for teachers who
are prepared and certified to teach ASL as a sec-
ond language. In order to become qualified and
certified teachers of ASL as a second language, in-
dividuals need to do coursework not only in ASL
and Deaf community and culture, but also in sec-
ond language theories and approaches, and they
need to undergo practicum experience in ASL
second language teaching. A few state education
departments, such as in New York, have called for
the establishment of teacher and scholar prepara-
tion programs to prepare individuals to become
teachers and scholars in the field of ASL. Only a
few institutions of higher education have heeded
the calls.
In spite of shortcomings in teacher qualifica-
tions, that teachers continue to be hired to teach
ASL in public secondary schools suggests two
things: There is a rising demand by secondary
school students for ASL classes for foreign lan-
guage credit, and there is a continuing need for
highly degreed and certified secondary school
teachers of ASL.
NOTES
1D/HH students in mainstreamed settings ex-
hibit diversity in communication preferences.
Their languages range from speech and Cued
Speech to Manually Coded English and ASL. The
designation “signing D/HH students” refers to a
subset of the deaf and hard of hearing student
population who predominately use ASL.
2The survey was made possible by financial
and logistical support from the Department of
Health and Behavior Studies, Teachers College,
Columbia University.
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APPENDIX A
Survey Questionnaire
Teachers College, Columbia University
Program in the Teaching of American Sign Language as a Foreign Language
525 West 120th Street, Box 223
New York, New York 10027
Trends in Student Enrollment and Number of Teachers and Classes:
American Sign Language as a Foreign Language
QUESTIONNAIRE
NAME OF SCHOOL:
RESPONDENT:
POSITION OF RESPONDENT:
HISTORY
1. When was the first year that classes in ASL as a foreign language were established at your school?
2. Please number below the order of events leading to the establishment of ASL as a foreign language classes
at the school (which happened first, second, etc.). If the event did not apply or occur, please leave blank.
Teachers from other fields who know ASL and want to teach ASL as a foreign language at the school.
Students, either individually or collectively such as ASL Club, request courses in ASL as a foreign language.
Principal took the lead in creating courses in ASL as foreign language at the school.
School district requested the school to offer courses in ASL as a foreign language.
Parents requested the school to offer courses in ASL as a foreign language.
Community members requested the school to offer courses in ASL as a foreign language.
Wilbers, S. (1987). The case for recognizing American
Sign Language. College Board Review, 145, 4–9, 30.
Wilbers, S. (1988). Why America needs Deaf culture:
Cultural pluralism and the liberal arts tradition.
Sign Language Studies, 59, 195–204.
Wilbur, R. (1979). American Sign Language and sign sys-
tems. Baltimore, MD: University Park Press.
Wilcox, S. (1992). Academic acceptance of American Sign
Language. Burtonsville, MD: Linstok Press.
Wilcox, S. (2006). Universities that accept ASL as a
foreign language. Retrieved July 10, 2006 from
http://www.unm.edu/%7ewilcox/universities_
that_accept_as.htm
Wilcox, S., & Wilbers, S. (1987). The case for aca-
demic acceptance of American Sign Language.
The Chronicle of Higher Education, July 1.
Wilcox, S., & Wilcox, P. (1991). Learning to see: Teaching
American Sign Language as a second language (1st
ed.). Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press.
Wilcox, S., & Wilcox, P. (1997). Learning to see: Teach-
ing American Sign Language as a second language
(2nd ed.). Washington, DC: Gallaudet University
Press.
34 The Modern Language Journal 92 (2008)
3. Please provide information below on number of teachers, classes, and students, and whether students can
take ASL for foreign language credit and indicate it in their transcripts for the past three years, current year,
and projections for next year at your school. Leave blank in certain cells if you cannot answer or do not have
sufficient information.
2002–2003 2003–2004 2004–2005
Academic Year Academic Year Academic Year
Number of ASL Teachers, in FTE
Number of ASL Classes
Number of Students in ASL Classes
How Many Levels of ASL Classes Offered?
Is ASL given foreign language credit?
Note. 2004–2005 was the current academic year.
STAFFING
1. Please list below the names of teachers currently teaching ASL and their highest degrees, fields, certifica-
tions (such as state teacher certification, ASLTA, etc.), and prior coursework and workshops taken.
Name, Degrees, Certifications, Coursework and Workshops
and Experience of (Circle cfor coursework and wfor
Current Teachers of ASL workshop. Leave blank if none.)
Name: Second Language Acquisition:
cw
Highest Degree: Linguistics of ASL:
cw
Field: Deaf Community and Culture:
cw
Certifications: Deaf/ASL Literature:
cw
Years Teaching ASL: Methods and Materials in ASL Teaching:
cw
Years Teaching Other Fields: Assessment in ASL:
cw
CLASSES
1. Where are the ASL classes housed in your school? Please check only one of the following.
Foreign, Modern, Second, or World Language Department
Special Education Department (such as Deaf Education)
Vocational Education Department
Extracurricular Clubs (ASL Club, etc.)
At a school for the deaf
Other:
2. What are the percentages of students in ASL classes in 2004–2005 who are:
Special Education students:
Regular Education students:
CURRICULUM
1. Please check the following curriculum currently used by teachers in ASL as foreign language courses at the
school. You can check any that applies.
Signing Naturally (“Vista”) series
A Basic Course in ASL (“ABC” book) series
Russell S. Rosen 35
American Sign Language: A Teacher’s Resource Text on Curriculum (“Green Book”)
Gallaudet University’s K–12 L1 and L2 curriculum for ASL
District-made curriculum
Teacher-made curriculum
2. What is the approach in teaching ASL used by the teachers? Please number the following in order of
importance.
Sign vocabulary
Nonmanual segments and classifiers
Grammar
Conversation
REQUEST FOR INFORMATION
1. Is there additional information that you would like to add about the ASL program and classes at your
school that is not covered in the above? We may include the additional information in this survey study.
2. Is there an ASL club at the school? If so, what are the activities?
3. Are there other secondary schools within your school district that offer ASL as a foreign language? With
this information we will contact the schools(s) and send them the questionnaire.
Your kind assistance is greatly appreciated! We will send you the results of the study if requested. Please
include email address since the report will be mailed via email attachment. Thank you.
APPENDIX B
Foreign Language Requirements for High School Diploma
State Details
AZ Basic diploma:none
Honors endorsement: two units of foreign language. Source: Arizona Education Department Web
site: http://www.ade.gov/standards/aims/gradrequire (accessed on 9/23/2006)
CA Basic diploma: one elective course, either foreign language or visual arts.
University preparatory diploma: 2 years of foreign language for admission to Cal. State Univ. system;
3 years for Univ. Calif. System.
Source: Calif. Educ. Code Section 51225.3
CT No explicit mention of foreign language.
FL Standard diploma:none.
Florida Academic Scholars Award (FAS) and Florida Merit Scholars Award (FMS): two credits in the
same language.
Source: Florida Department of Education Web site:
http://www.firn.edu/doe/curriculum/intro.pdf (Dounay, 2002)
IL Basic diploma: no statewide requirement.
Additional criteria: one unit of language study, as determined by local school boards.
Source: Ill. School Code Section 1.440(f)
IN Standard diploma: no explicit mention of foreign language.
Academic honors diploma: six credits in one language or four credits in one language and four in
another.
Source: IND. ADMIN. CODE title 511, r. 6-7-6.5 (Dounay, 2002)
ME No explicit mention of foreign language.
MD Standard diploma: no explicit mention of foreign language.
Maryland High School Certificate of Merit : students must meet one or more of four criteria to obtain
the Certificate of Merit, one of which is instruction in foreign language at Level III or beyond.
Source: MD. REGS. CODE title 13A, §03.02.03 (Dounay, 2002)
(Continued)
36 The Modern Language Journal 92 (2008)
APPENDIX B
Continued
State Details
MA Basic diploma: no statewide requirement. Local school authorities require 1 to 3 years of study in a
foreign language.
Source: Mass. Department of education Web site:
http://www.doe.mass.edu/news/archives/gradreq.pdf (accessed on 9/23/2006)
NJ Basic diploma: no statewide requirement. Local school boards require up to 10 credits of foreign
language study.
Source: N.J. STAT. ANN. §18A:7C-1, -2; N.J. ADMIN. CODE title 6A, §8-5.1;
http://www.state.nj.us/njded/news/0702wlg.htm (Dounay, 2002)
NY Students entering Grade 9 in 2000–01 school year and earlier:
Standard diploma:none.
Regents diploma: three units in a language other than English and the Regents comprehensive
examination in a language other than English.
Students entering Grade 9 in the 2001–2002 school year and thereafter:
Regents diploma: one unit and passing the state second language proficiency examination.
Regents diploma with advanced designation: two additional units in a language other than English
for a total of three units and the passing of proficiency examination. Source: N.Y. COMP.
CODES R. & REGS. title 8, §100.5 (Dounay, 2002)
OH Basic diploma: foreign language as an elective option up to one unit or two half units.
Diploma with Honors: three units of foreign language or two units each of two foreign languages.
Source: Ohio Department of education Web site: http://www.ode.state.oh.us/GD/Templates/
Pages/ODE/ODEDetail.aspx?Page=3&TopicRelationID=1202&Content=15240 (accessed on
9/23/2006)
OR Basic Diploma:none.
Certificate of Initial Mastery (CIM): one to three units of foreign language study as determined by
local school boards.
Source: OR. ADMIN. R. 581–022-0102, -1115, -1130; OR. REV. STAT. §329.447, §329.465, §
329.487 (Dounay, 2002)
PA Basic Diploma: no statewide requirement. Requirements are set by local boards, however, foreign
languages is not an area required to be tested by state or local assessments. Source: 22 PA. CODE
§4.24 (Dounay, 2002)
TX Minimum diploma:none.
Recommended high school program: two units, which must be Level I and Level II in the same foreign
language.
Distinguished achievement high school program: three credits, which must be Levels I, II, and III in
the same language.
Source: 19 TEX. ADMIN. CODE §74.11, 74.43, 74.44 (Dounay, 2002)
UT Basic diploma: students may take foreign language after 24 courses of basic skills (English, math,
science, social studies) are taken. Local school boards require one to two units of foreign
language.
Source: Ut. Div. of Admin. Rules R277-700.
VA Beginning with 9th grade class of 1998–99:
Standard Diploma and Modified Standard Diploma: none.
Advanced Studies Diploma: 3 years of one language or 2 years of two languages.
Source: 8 VA. ADMIN. CODE 20–131-50 (Dounay, 2002)
WA Basic diploma: no statewide requirement. Local school boards are granted 5.5 credits of electives
in addition to basic state requirements, and one to two units of foreign language is included as
an elective.
Source: Wash. Dept. of Public Instruction Web site:
http://www.k12.wa.us/graduationrequirements/CreditReq.aspx (accessed on 9/23/2006)
Note. As of 2004. The above includes only the states that responded to survey questionnaire.
Russell S. Rosen 37
APPENDIX C
Teacher Certification Requirements, by State
Minimum Transcript Review: Endorsement Proficiency Certification
State Degree Subject Area Area Tests Area
AZ BA 24 credits in
content area;
Foreign Languages Arizona Basic Skills
Test
Secondary; Special
Education; Deaf and
Hard of Hearing;
Hearing Impaired
30 credits in
pedagogy
Transcript review
CA BA 20 credits in
content area;
Languages Other
Than English
California Basic
Educational Skills
Test
Secondary; Special
Education; Deaf and
Hard of Hearing
32 credits in
pedagogy
CT BA 15 credits in
content area;
Other World
Languages
Praxis II ASLTA
SCPI
Secondary; Special
Education; Deaf and
Hard of Hearing;
Hearing Impaired;
ASLTA
18 credits in
pedagogy
FL BA 18 credits in
content area;
20 credits in
pedagogy
ASL Florida Teacher
Certification
Examination
SCPI ASLTA
Secondary; Special
Education; Deaf and
Hard of Hearing;
Hearing Impaired;
ASLTA
IL BA 32 credits in
content area;
Foreign Languages
(“Other
Languages”)
Illinois Test of Basic
Skills
Secondary; Special
Education; Deaf and
Hard of Hearing;
Hearing Impaired
16 credits in
pedagogy
Illinois Assessment of
Professional
Teaching
IN BA 36 credits in
content area;
World Languages Praxis:
Pre-Professional
Skills Test
Secondary; Special
Education; Deaf and
Hard of Hearing;
Hearing Impaired
24 credits in
pedagogy
ME BA 24 credits in
content area;
Modern and Classical
Languages
Praxis:
Pre-Professional
Skills Test
Secondary; Special
Education; Deaf and
Hard of Hearing;
Hearing Impaired
12 credits in
pedagogy
MD BA 36 credits in
content area;
Foreign Language:
Modern
Praxis:
Pre-Professional
Skills Test
Foreign Language:
Modern—ASL
21 credits in
pedagogy
MA BA no explicit
information
Foreign Languages Massachusetts Test for
Educator Licensure
(MTEL)
Foreign Language;
Deaf and Hard of
Hearing; ASLTA;
Special Education
SCPI
NJ BA 30 credits in
content area;
World Languages SCPI Secondary; Special
Education; Deaf and
Hard of Hearing
33 credits in
pedagogy
NY MA 24 credits in
content area;
Languages Other
Than English
New York State
Teach e r
Certification
Examination
Teacher of ASL as
LOTE
12 credits in
pedagogy
OH BA 15 credits in
content area;
6creditsin
pedagogy
Foreign Language:
ASL
Praxis:
Pre-Professional
Skills Test
Secondary; Special
Education; Deaf and
Hard of Hearing;
Hearing Impaired
SCPI
(Continued)
38 The Modern Language Journal 92 (2008)
APPENDIX C
Continued
Minimum Transcript Review: Endorsement Proficiency Certification
State Degree Subject Area Area Tests Area
OR MA 15 credits in
content area;
15 credits in
pedagogy
ASL Praxis:
Pre-Professional
Skills Test, or
Secondary; Special
Education; Deaf and
Hard of Hearing;
ASLTA
California Basic
Educational Skills
Test
PA MA 18 credits in
content area;
Foreign Languages Praxis:
Pre-Professional
Skills Test
Secondary; Special
Education; Deaf and
Hard of Hearing
18 credits in
pedagogy
TX BA 24 credits in
content area;
12 credits in
pedagogy
ASL Texas Examination of
Educator Standards
TASC-ASL
Secondary; ASL;
Special Education;
Deaf and Hard of
Hearing; ASLTA
UT MA 30 credits in
content area;
16 credits in
pedagogy
World Languages SCPI
Transcript review
Secondary; Special
Education; Deaf and
Hard of Hearing;
Hearing Impaired
VA BA 24 credits in
content area;
18 credits in
pedagogy
Foreign Languages Praxis:
Pre-Professional
Skills Test
ASLTA
Secondary; Special
Education; Deaf and
Hard of Hearing;
Hearing Impaired;
Foreign Language:
ASL
WA BA 30 credits in
content area;
15 credits in
pedagogy
World Languages Praxis:
Pre-Professional
Skills Test
Primary (Secondary);
Special Education;
Deaf and Hard of
Hearing
Washington Educator
Standards Test
Note. Information correct as of 2004 and includes only the states that responded to survey questionnaire.
Certification is obtained either from an accredited baccalaureate institution or from the State Board–
approved teacher preparatory programs. The above are minimum requirements for teachers of ASL in
secondary schools. ASLTA =American Sign Language Teachers Association; SCPI =Sign Communication
Proficiency Interview; LOTE =Languages Other than English; TASC–ASL =Texas Assessment of Sign
Communications-American Sign Language.
Submissions Now Accepted Through Manuscript Central
Effective immediately, manuscript submissions are now being processed through Wiley-Blackwell’s
Manuscript Central Web site. Authors can submit their manuscripts and reviewers can submit their
reviews directly online at: http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/mlj
Please send all queries about manuscripts to the new Editor, Professor Leo van Lier, at the Monterey
Institute of International Studies. The email address for the new editorial office is: mlj@miis.edu
... The following is an examination of how language ideologies ascertained the location of ASL in the American education system and how changing ideologies over time precipitated the movement of ASL from its initial location in deaf education as a language of the deaf, its trajectory across political and cultural contexts, and its arrival in general education as a foreign language for general education students who are mainly hearing. This study builds on several studies conducted by Rosen (2008Rosen ( , 2015. Earlier studies (Rosen 2008) provided data on the number and distribution of classes and programs in ASL as a foreign language in American public secondary schools. ...
... This study builds on several studies conducted by Rosen (2008Rosen ( , 2015. Earlier studies (Rosen 2008) provided data on the number and distribution of classes and programs in ASL as a foreign language in American public secondary schools. Rosen (2008Rosen ( , 2015 provided information on the schools, education departments, and the federal and state laws on ASL as a foreign language at the secondary schools. ...
... Earlier studies (Rosen 2008) provided data on the number and distribution of classes and programs in ASL as a foreign language in American public secondary schools. Rosen (2008Rosen ( , 2015 provided information on the schools, education departments, and the federal and state laws on ASL as a foreign language at the secondary schools. This study added information on the ideological factors that were gleaned from the documents by federal and state education officials that justified and initiated the inclusion of ASL in the public foreign language education curriculum. ...
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... Most of the available curricula, teaching materials and research studies from other countries were focused on hearing adult L2 learners of a SL (COOPER et al., 2011;QUINTO-POZOS, 2011;TAUB et al., 2008;WILCOX, WILCOX, 1997). There were very few curricula designed for children learning a SL as a L2 in schools (ROSEN, 2008;. For L1 learners of SLs, the writing team were only able to source a handful of curricula to review (Finnish National Board of Education, 2004;2014 (JOHNSTON, 1989). ...
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... • The teachers should have a training in teaching / interpreting SL and should promote social networks and the use of SL in the right situations (Rosen, 2008). Hathazi and Rosan (2019) state the importance of cultural and social aspects that need to be considered, but also the need for individualization regarding teacher training. ...
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... Second-language acquisition.-In recent years, there has been increased research interest regarding second-language acquisition of sign languages (Chen Pichler et al. 2019;Geer & Keane 2017;Rosen 2004Rosen , 2008; for an overview, see Chen Pichler & Koulidobrova 2016). The focus of such research is often on areas of the new modality that are considered to be most difficult for learners of a second language in a second modality, such as handshape discrimination, which is a salient component of sign language phonology. ...
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... If given the chance, such learners may in fact get farther in an L2 signed language than an L2 spoken language. With more and more schools off ering ASL as an L2/ L n , opportunities to take ASL are increasing (Rosen, 2008(Rosen, , 2015. ...
Chapter
Instructors of foreign languages in secondary and higher education often encounter diversity in learning abilities among their learners. Setting aside motivation and other academic factors, what makes one learner better at L1 or L2/Ln learning over another? Might some learners have a stronger aptitude for a signed language over a spoken language? And, how do we know how an atypical L1 or L2/Ln learner will fare in the classroom? These are interesting issues for the L1 and L2/Ln instructors as they consider adapting their instruction or activities for the range of skills and capacities within their class. In this chapter, we focus on adolescent and adult learners of signed language, exploring situations of learner diversity or atypicality and how those differences impact signed language learning in both the L1 and L2/Ln contexts...
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Book
This is a textbook for students and teachers of American Sign Language.
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1. The views expressed here are the author’s own, and should in no way be taken as official positions of the National Science Foundation or any of its programs, or of the United States Government.