Is American Sign Language (ASL) A Foreign Language?

ASL stands for American Sign Language. ASL is a fully developed and distinct language with its own one-of-a-kind grammar. The language is distinct from the English Language and also is distinct from sign systems, both English-based and foreign-based.

During the past decades, ASL education has been experiencing increased enrollment because more and more individuals have become interested in learning the language. A growing number of universities and colleges are actually accepting ASL classes in foreign language requirements fulfillment.

This article’s purpose is to provide information and resources on American Sign Language to individuals who take an interest in studying the language, to persons who want to learn more interesting facts about ASL, and to people who already engaged in ASL education, either as a student or as a teacher.

We understand that the topic of American Sign Language has an inherent relationship with many subjects of Deaf culture and deafness, and this website provides primary information related to ASL itself, while it offers only very limited information about other issues that are surrounding the world of deafness.

Over the past decades, quite a few states have passed legislation to recognize American Sign Language as a foreign language. This enabled high schools, universities, and colleges to accept ASL in foreign language requirements fulfillment for both deaf and hard hearing students. Students who have loans should also read this post about student loans consolidation rules. Very informative!

By the last turn of the century, almost 30 states had passed relevant legislation, and numerous universities and community colleges, including Georgetown, Brown, MIT (The Massachusetts Institute of Technology), the University of Washington, and Purdue, are accepting American Sign Language as a distinct foreign language. After earning a college degree and having considerable experience, ASL students may even study further to earn an MBA degree and use their knowledge on a broader platform.

American Sign Language (ASL) is a gestural/visual language, distinct from any other spoken language or English, distinct from all sign languages that are used in other countries, and also distinct from other English-based sign systems that are used in the U.S. (for example several manually coded systems for English).

The exact number of ASL users in America is hard to determine, but the fact of the matter is that ASL is the most frequently used language for face-to-face communication. ASL is learned as a first or second language by numerous Americans (estimates go from 200,000 to 800,000 persons), including hearing children of deaf parents, deaf native signers, and adult deaf signers who learned ASL from other deaf persons. Did you ever wonder what the nicknames would be of all fifty states? check it out here.

ASL is learned as a first or second language by numerous Americans (estimates go from 200,000 to 800,000 persons), including hearing children of Deaf parents, Deaf native signers, and adult Deaf signers who learned ASL from other Deaf persons. As so many schools decided to accept ASL to fulfill foreign Language requirements, they had to address several interesting questions, like:

Is ASL a Language? Well, ASL is a fully developed, distinct language. ASL is just one of the world’s several hundreds of natural signed languages, including a complex grammatical structure.

ASL Is US-based. How Can It Be a Foreign Language? ASL is a language that’s indigenous to the U.S. and parts of our northern neighbor Canada. In the academic world, however, the place of origin of a language has little or nothing to do with whether it’s considered a foreign language. To give you an example, Navajo and other American Indian languages are all across American accepted in fulfillment of foreign language requirements by numerous colleges and universities. Many programs are now referred to as second language programs instead of foreign language programs as many native students were born here. Check out also this review of BestGEDClasses, a website that offers free online GED prep and practice tests, and also lists all GED prep locations across America.

Is There Much ASL Literature? There is an extensive writing system for ASL, but none of these systems are used on a large scale for recording ASL literature. There is, however, a lot of ASL literature available in videotapes, movies, and CDs issued by companies like Sign Enhancers, and Dawn Sign Press. Another excellent source of information on the folklore and heritage of Deaf people is available at the bookstore of Gallaudet University in Washington, DC.

Is Learning ASL Easier Than Other Foreign Languages?

ASL was developed as a gestural/visual language, so its grammar and structure are differing from that of other languages, including English, that were developed as aural/oral languages. American Sign Language (ASL) comes with a more complex classifier system and verbal aspect than English or other foreign languages. Many ASL students feel it is more difficult and complex to learn than other oral languages.

In the next post, I’ll show you a list of colleges and universities that accept ASL as a foreign language.