Beginning American Sign Language (ASL)

Instructor: Kaitlin Wells
Mondays, 9-11 a.m. (Central)


This first course in American Sign Language uses a conversational approach and is designed to provide a fun learning experience for those who have little or no ASL background. Greetings and basic phrases will be taught, so that the learner can engage in light conversation right away. ASL vocabulary will be taught weekly to expand the learner’s knowledge and conversation capabilities. Essential cultural aspects of the Deaf community, use of facial expression, body movement, and other non-manual language elements will also be taught, so that the learner will sign in a natural, culturally appropriate way.

Can-Do Statements:

Upon successful completion of this course, learners will be able to:

  • Greet others in informal situations
  • Introduce myself and others
  • Fingerspell & use numbers
  • Feel confident in signing, using authentic ASL phrases
  • Ask for clarification or for signs to be repeated or signed more slowly
  • Know about cultural aspects of the Deaf community and its history
  • Converse in ASL in a way that shows knowledge & recognition of the Deaf community

Use of the Language: This course has been designed in such a way that most of the class time will be devoted to communication and will be taught in the target language (i.e., the language that you are studying).  After being introduced to the language during the first class session, you are encouraged to use the target language as much as possible.  You are not expected to understand everything, and you can expect to be pushed beyond your comfort zone. However, your instructor is there to make sure you can succeed in meeting the goals of the activities and of the class in general.  Our goal is for you to be able to communicate in the target language, and we cannot learn to speak a language without speaking it.  Please remember that we learn best by making mistakes, and we encourage you to try to do your best.  Don’t forget that your instructor is there to support you in class and is also available via the Matrix messaging system for assistance.

Expectations/Time Commitment:

Although homework is not required, it is strongly recommended that you set aside at least 2 hours outside of the weekly 2-hour class to engage in and practice the course material, and additional time watch ASL videos online, and to engage with Deaf people as often as possible. Quizzes and Deaf event attendance are for the learner’s benefit. The level of success is directly tied to the amount of effort put into practicing what has been taught in class.

Required Materials:

StartASL Curriculum– Materials, including videos, handouts, and practice materials will be provided free of charge to the student.  The program materials will be provided in PDF format; this includes the student workbook.

Optional, but strongly suggested supplemental materials: Available at Amazon and many local bookstores.

American Sign Language Phrase Book w/DVD, Lou Fant and Barbara Bernstein Fant.