ASL Course Descriptions

The following courses are offered regularly as a part of our ASL program and ASL certificate. For all ASL catalog listings and current scheduling information please check the PS Mobile Course Catalog.

Core American Sign Language Courses

In this course, students are taught American sign language (ASL) vocabulary and grammatical structures. Students will also learn and ASL fingerspelling system, the use of gestural devices and how to appropriately use the signing space in ASL. Further, students will learn about deaf culture in the United States. Out-of-class participation in deaf community events is required.
Students will learn more difficult vocabulary (signs) and how to use them in one-to-one, small group, and large group communication. Students will also be exposed to classifier constructions. This course is a continuation of ASL I (LING 0471) and it utilizes a similar curriculum
This course continues the study of ASL. The students will work on developing intermediate communication skills and will concentrate on production skills. Linguistic and cultural features will be presented in the context of the language learning experiences. This level will also examine and discuss its use and effect on and in the deaf culture.
This advanced course of ASL concentrates on developing more precise skills and competencies by using appropriate variations of ASL (regional, racial/ethnic, stylistic and age related) vocabulary. Students will also be given the opportunity to use ASL by volunteering in the deaf community.
This course provides an opportunity for students to formally pursue work on an individual basis. This course also applies knowledge of American Sign Language (ASL) grammar and vocabulary to the description of increasingly complex constructs, processes and situations. Students will: incorporate multiple character role shifting into medium-length stories, narratives and the discussion of hypothetical issues; identify and discuss various controversial issues via debate and presentation; continue to analyze multiple meaning English words and English idioms to express concepts in ASL; have the opportunity to gain knowledge about the Deaf Community as a part of the human diversity including people of color, genders, LGBTQ people, people with disabilities, etc.
Introduction to specific topics and content areas in ASL discourse, including Visual Gestural Communication, International, Deafblind, Mental Health/Medical/Sexual/Drugs/Other Special Topics in sign communication depending on the needs and interests of Pitt Students. This course also provides students with opportunities to expand expressive and receptive use of American Sign Language (ASL), including a variety of special topics at an advanced level. Special emphasis is on increasing spatial use, ASL fluency and non-manual grammar and behaviors. Skills related to research in sign language discourse will be introduced.

ASL Culture Courses

The culture of deaf Americans is distinct from that of mainstream American society. The primary focus of this course is to expose students to the culture of the deaf in the United States and around the world. In addition to teaching students how to interact with the deaf in a culturally appropriate way, the course will help them understand deaf culture as part of human diversity. Among the course foci are: issues of accessibility, perspectives of deaf versus hearing individuals, and various examples of deaf literature.

Additional Courses for the American Sign Language Certificate

Many deaf people in the U.S. Are united by a language (ASL) that differs from English and a culture with characteristics that differ from those of the larger hearing society. This culture is known as deaf culture, and students in this course will be introduced to various facets of American deaf culture through readings, videos, and discussions. Students will also explore other deaf cultures throughout the world. Among the course foci are: issues of accessibility, perspectives of deaf versus hearing individuals, and various examples of deaf literature. This course is designed for students pursing the ASL certificate.
This course is a survey of general linguistics, emphasizing the theory and methodology of the traditional central areas of the field--phonetics, phonology, morphology, and syntax- with special concentration on phonological and syntactic theories and analytical techniques. The remainder of the course will be devoted to phonetics, morphology, historical linguistics, semantics and pragmatics, sociolinguistics, and psycholinguistics.
This course provides an overview of linguistics and psycholinguistics including phonologic, morphologic, syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic aspects of linguistic theory and behavior. Topics may also include neurolinguistics, developmental psycholinguistics, and the relationship between cognition and language.
This course will focus on the linguistic structure of sign languages, drawing examples principally, though not exclusively, from American sign language (ASL). It will also highlight similarities and differences between sign languages and spoken languages. In addition to structural features, the course will cover mechanisms unique to visual/spatial languages, the use of the face and body for grammatical signals, language variation, and acquisition of sign languages.
There are various sociolinguistic topics that one must consider with respect to signed languages of the deaf. Regarding language contact, ambient languages-either signed or spoken-influence a signed language. Less than 10% of deaf people are exposed to signed language from birth, which results in unique phenomena. Additionally, signed languages exhibit variation based on a myriad of social and geographical factors. These topics, in addition to language planning and language policy, will be addressed in this course.
This course is designed for students to explore and analyze American sign language and American deaf culture through ASL literature. Studying ASL literature is a way to examine the linguistic complexity of ASL as well as explore the deaf community's values and traditions as a minority group and a group to which visual depiction of ideas is highly valued. This course is conducted in ASL.