ASL Study Guide

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Course Title:             Introduction to American Sign Language

Course Number:      CDIS 2100

Credit Hours:                        3 credit hours Undergraduate

Instructor:                  M. Eileen Truszkowski –  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (see how to

reach me at the end of this syllabus.)

Semester:                  Fall – Spring - Summer (Friday only)


Schedules class meeting:  Friday – 4:30 PM to 7:20 PM and Saturday – 9:00 AM to 11:50 AM


­Course Description:


Students will learn to accurately produce approximately 700 signs with conceptual accuracy.  Each student will be able to utilize the acquired vocabulary of the language of the American Deaf, understanding how and why a sign is presented in the manner that it is.  They will be able to understand the signs of fellow students, as well as the signs of the instructor.


Course Rationale:


American Sign Language (ASL) is the third most used language in the United States today and it is the native language of the Deaf in American.  The American Deaf work, play and go to school in a variety of settings in which they have no communication with their fellow workers, or supervisors.  This class will provide a hands-on learning environment that will allow the student to learn vocabulary, to produce the signs accurately, to use the signs in appropriate concepts, to understand the signs of others, and to understand the culture of the adult who is deaf.


Certification Standards


Satisfactory completion of this course is intended to assist students in meeting the following sections of the ASHA Standards for the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology, effective January 1, 2005.

·         Standard III-C: The applicant must demonstrate knowledge of the nature of speech, language, hearing, and communication disorders and differences and swallowing disorders, including the etiologies, characteristics, anatomical/physiological, acoustic, psychological, developmental, and linguistic and cultural correlates. Specific knowledge must be demonstrated in the following areas:


Communication modalities (including oral, manual, augmentative, and alternative communication techniques and assistive technologies).


·         Standard IV-A:  The applicant must complete a curriculum of academic and clinical education that follows an appropriate sequence of learning sufficient to achieve the skill outcomes in Standard IV-G:

Communicate effectively, recognizing the needs, values, preferred mode of communication, and cultural/linguistic background of the client/patient, family, caregivers, and relevant others.


Expected Student Outcomes:        Students will have:


  • the ability to understand the acquired signs in conversation
  • an understanding of the importance of conceptual accuracy in the presentation of the language
  • the ability to accurately produce the acquired signs in a clear and understandable fashion
  • an understanding of how the Deaf client interacts in and out of his/her culture
  • an understanding of early acquisition of language in Deaf children
  • an understanding of the isolation adults who are Deaf experience
  • an understanding of the history of Deaf





Signs of the Times by Edgar Shroyer:  Gallaudet University Press.

Interactive American Sign Language Dictionary  -  DVD – Jupiter and Truszkowski



The American Sign Language Handshape Dictionary by Richard Tennant and Marianne Gluszak Brown:  Gallaudet University Press


Instructional Activities:


Expressive and receptive exercises will be completed at every class


­Expressive sentences: 


Each student will prepare three sentences using as many of the vocabulary words from the previous week’s lessons.  The sentences will be presentation to the class.  The sentences will be printed (double spaced for each written line) or typed (4 spaces between each line of print).


Sentences will be graded in two specific area, first concept—the accuracy with which the student produces the sign in the context of the sentence, and second, production—the accuracy with which the student makes the sign (the mechanics of the sign which includes placement, hand shape, movement and repetitive features and facial expression).  A sign that is produced accurately mechanically but is conceptually inaccurate is a WRONGsign. 


Each sentence will have a base value of 5 points. 


You may use words from all previous lessons BUT MAY NOT use signs that have not been presented in the class.  YOU NEED TO BE CREATIVE.  No one said that the sentences need to make sense.  You can only fingerspell proper names.  YOU will prepare two (2) copies of your sentences.  One of them MUST have your name on it.  I will not call on a person whose paper does not have a name on it.  It will be hand printed neatly  (double spaced for each written line) or typed (4 spaces between each line of print).


Receptive sentences:


Receptive sentences will be worth 5 points each.  A sentence with a right concept but a wrong word choice will be open to discussion with the instructor.  The number of receptive sentences will be determined by the number of students in attendance for that particular class.  If there are 20 students in attendance, including yourself, then the possible receptive score will be 19 (students) X 15 (points) or 285 points.  This number will change from week to week depending on attendance in class.  Receptive sentences are worth 30% of your grade.


Sentence grading scale:                                        Overall grading scale:                                            

5 = A                                                                           100-90 = A

4 = B                                                                             80-89 = B

3 = C                                                                             79-70 = C

2 = D                                                                             69-60 = D

1 = F                                                                             59 and below is F…


Expressive sentences                                                          60% of grade

Receptive sentences and tests                                          30% of grade

Attendance and Extra Credit                                           10% of grade


Course Requirements:


Attendance in this class is REQUIRED.  Missing one class means that you will miss at least 50 signs and invaluable experience in building receptive skills that cannot be made up.  Missing two classes puts you at risk of NOT passing and missing three classes will not enable you to pass the class. 

Your grade in this class is an accumulation of points that are gathered throughout the semester.  If you are absent, you get no points. If you come late to class, your possible receptive score will not be changed to reflect the missed points.  The receptive score possible is the same for everyone in the class, no matter what time you arrive at class.  So be on time.  Cheating will not be tolerated.


Extra credit:  This can consist of off campus activities within the Deaf community.  A paper documenting your attendance and your personal reaction is required accompanied by ticket stubs when applicable.  Assignments must be turn in two weeks before last class if they are to be counted for your grade. Extra credit cannot be substituted for lack of attendance, or a failure to maintain a passing score in classroom assignments.  NO MORE THAN 100 extra credit points will be accepted AND is classroom is lacking extra credit points CANNOT be used to prevent a failing grade!


Not turning in a videotape for your final or not following directions on the final exam will result in a final grade of F, period, no argument or defense will be accepted.


Incompletes:     If the class is being offered in the next term and you have had documented family problems or illness you have the 2 options.  1) Take an incomplete. (At that time you will be required to attend all of the following semester class for that level, on its assigned day and time.)  2) Withdraw from the class according to University time frames. 


 If you have any questions about the requirements please feel free to discuss them with the instructor.


Special notes:


Study groups are strongly encouraged and will assist you tremendously in learning the language and in maintaining what you have learned.  Remember that this is a language class and if you do not use it you will lose it. 


~~~There is no way to make up missed classes.  Students missing more than two classes are missing more than 500 collective points are strongly advised to withdrawal and try again next semester~~~


The final exam will be handed out to you in the 11th class so that you can begin to prepare it for presentation.  It will be videotaped (there is a video camera in the CDIS office and the graduate student can assist you in taping or you can have a fellow classmate help you). You can do this as a group process with your whole study group taping their story on the same videotape.


INSTRUCTIONS for Videotape FINAL EXAM:  (There is no written or oral final)


The final exam is a story of the instructor’s creation that will be signed on videotape.  The final exam is designed to test your vocabulary and your knowledge of ASL principle that has been taught throughout the semester. The story MUST be signed from start to finish without turning off the camera.  Turning off the camera constitutes an F for the class.  If while you are signing the final you need to use the bathroom or need to look up a sign, leave the camera running, go and to your thing and come back.  If you turn the camera off, you MUST start the story from the beginning.  The story will be graded on ASL principle.  This final exam becomes the property of the instructor so make sure that you put it on a media that does not have any important papers on it.



Services for Students with Disabilities:


GSU is committed to providing all students equal access to all university programs and facilities. Students who have a documented physical, psychological, or learning disability and need academic accommodations, must register with Access Services for Students with Disabilities (ASSD). Please contact the Coordinator of ASSD in Room B1201 in person; by e-mail, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; or by calling 708-235-3968. If you are already registered, please contact your instructor privately regarding your academic accommodations.



How to reach me…


In the subject line of your e-mail form, please include the following in this order


CDIS 2100 Friday or Saturday (whichever class you are in) and your name and group designation A or B.   I do not know your e-mail addresses and if you send an e-mail without the above, the e-mail will be deleted by my computer.  So please put that in the subject line so that I can help you with your problems.    ET






General Schedule for all classes.  May change slightly depending upon school holidays.

Alphabet WEEK 1




Guided Practice



Lessons 1 and 2




Lessons 3 and 4


Alligator        antelope

Animal          armadillo

Bear             beaver

Bee              buffalo

Bug (insect) bird

Bull               butterfly          


Lessons 5 and 6

Wh and yes-no question

Rhetorical question                 

Camel             caterpillar

Centipede       chicken           crab           clam (Oyster)  Cow       crocodile         deer        dinosaur          dolphin

donkey – mule – jackass



Lesson 7 and 8



Dragon           Dragon fly

Duck – goose Eagle

Elephant         Fish

Fly                   Fox

Frog                Giraffe

Goat                Gopher





Review week

Rhetorical question

CWP TEST – 1-8



Lessons 9 and 10


Gorilla              Jelly fish

Grasshopper    Horse

Hippo                Jungle

Kangaroo          Kitten

Lady bug           Lion

Llama            Lobster  (2)


Lessons 11 and 12


Monkey        Moose

Mosquito      Mouse

Mountain goat and Lion

Octopus        Possum

Ostrich          Owl

Panda            Peacock



Lessons 13 and 14


Penguin          Pig /Hog

Polar bear       pony

Porcupine       Rabbit

Raccoon         Rat

Rhino              Ride

Road Kill         Rooster

TEACH  Week 10

Review week.


CWP -  9 - 14


Lessons 15 and 16


Safari           Seahorse

Seal             Shark           Sheep          Shrimp         Skunk           Snail            Snake           Spider (2)    Spots on animal




Lessons 17, 18,and 19


Teddy bear       Tiger

Tortoise            Turkey

Turtle                Whale

Unicorn             Walrus            

Water buffalo    Wolf

Worm                 Zebra



Lessons 20, 21, 22






Review week 


***Class choice of review of all signs 1 – 22 or story using all signs in the 22 lessons plus animals.




Final exam dues






****Spring semester has one week in between week 11 and 13.  This week does not appear on this schedule.


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