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Learning To See

American Sign Language as a Second Language

Sherman Wilcox and Phyllis Perrin Wilcox

Publication Year: 1997

As more and more secondary schools and colleges accept American Sign Language (ASL) as a legitimate choice for second language study, Learning to See has become even more vital in guiding instructors on the best ways to teach ASL as a second language. And now this groundbreaking book has been updated and revised to reflect the significant gains in recognition that deaf people and their native language, ASL, have achieved in recent years. Learning to See lays solid groundwork for teaching and studying ASL by outlining the structure of this unique visual language. Myths and misconceptions about ASL are laid to rest at the same time that the fascinating, multifaceted elements of Deaf culture are described. Students will be able to study ASL and gain a thorough understanding of the cultural background, which will help them to grasp the language more easily. An explanation of the linguistic basis of ASL follows, leading into the specific, and above all, useful information on teaching techniques. This practical manual systematically presents the steps necessary to design a curriculum for teaching ASL, including the special features necessary for training interpreters. The new Learning to See again takes its place at the forefront of texts on teaching ASL as a second language, and it will prove to be indispensable to educators and administrators in this special discipline.

Published by: Gallaudet University Press


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pp. vii

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pp. ix-x

Foreign language teachers often tell us that the goal of teaching a second language is to propel students beyond the limits of their own world, to encourage them to see through the language and culture of another people (Bugos 1980). Such a goal is entirely appropriate for teachers of American Sign Language...

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1. More than a Gesture

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pp. 1-12

In 1965, an event took place that was to change the history of a language and its people.William C. Stokoe, Dorothy Casterline, and Carl Croneberg published their Dictionary of American Sign Language on Linguistic Principles. At the time, few people paid attention. Although American Sign Language (ASL) was the language...

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2. American Sign Language in Perspective

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pp. 13-54

American Sign Language (ASL) is the visual/gestural language that serves as the primary means of communication of deaf people in the United States and parts of Canada. It is difficult to extrapolate the size of the deaf population because the United States Bureau of the Census has not included a question on hearing...

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3. American Deaf Culture

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pp. 55-75

It is common for the general public to consider deaf people in this country as handicapped Americans with no further sense of identity as a people. This is far from correct. There exists a strong and tightknit group of people in the United States that identifies itself with Deaf culture (Wilcox 1989). As with any culture, its members share values, beliefs, attitudes, and, most importantly...

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4. Teaching ASL

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pp. 76-111

The first step in designing any type of program that will offer ASL instruction is to conduct a needs assessment. As with any second language program, an analysis of the local academic and community environment is needed to determine the following (Crandall and Bruhn 1982, 79):...

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5. Special Considerations

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pp. 112-121

In this final chapter, we will discuss several special considerations routinely reviewed by second language teachers of ASL. These will include the distinction between ASL programs and interpreting programs, teacher qualifications, and the ASL program’s relationship with the Deaf community....

Appendix 1: Selected Videotapes on American Sign Language and Deaf Culture

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pp. 123-124

Appendix 2: Selected Books on American Sign Language and Deaf Culture

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pp. 125-128

Appendix 3: Deafness-Related Organizations and Publishers

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pp. 129-130

Appendix 4: Colleges and Universities That Accept ASL as Partial or Complete Fulfillment of Foreign Language Credits

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pp. 131-132


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pp. 133-140


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pp. 141-143

E-ISBN-13: 9781563682605
E-ISBN-10: 1563682605
Print-ISBN-13: 9781563680595
Print-ISBN-10: 1563680599

Page Count: 160
Illustrations: 3 tables, 10 figures
Publication Year: 1997