Welcome back to another installment of Learn About TU! Today we will explore how our undergraduate students learn American Sign Language (ASL) in our program.
Our Deaf Education majors come to our university with a variety of levels of experience with ASL – some have Deaf family members who use ASL, or are Deaf themselves. Some began learning ASL in primary or secondary school. Some come to TU without ever having taken an ASL course! Our goal is to make sure that all of our graduates are fluent signers before they leave our campus.
This starts, of course, with ASL classes. Here at TU we use the Signing Naturally curriculum, and students taken ASL Levels I, II, III, and IV. In terms of formal course work, we also recommend that students take some more advanced ASL classes and interpreting classes at Tulsa Community College, which has a great interpreter training program and some wonderful professors!
We also get our students out into the Deaf Community as often as possible – we believe that this opportunity to interact with fluent and native signers is essential to ASL acquisition. Students must attend community events for ASL classes, and also must clock an additional 45 hours of community events prior to graduation through practicum courses. This is in addition to the 105 classroom practicum hours and a full semester of student teaching in environments that use ASL. Finally, our advanced methods course in teaching Deaf/Hard of Hearing students is taught entirely in ASL so that students have the opportunity for more advanced, academic ASL.
And after all this work to build ASL fluency, how is it evaluated? In the spring of junior year, our students attend a two week long practicum at a school for the Deaf. During this practicum, we arrange for their signing skills to be evaluated by a Deaf professional. These reports help both us and our students understand where their strengths are and what they need to work on further before graduation.
So there you have it! In our program you learn not only how to teach Deaf/Hard of Hearing children, but we also work hard to support you as you learn a new language!