The World Languages and Cultures department will be offering American Sign Language as a 300-level four credit course this fall. ASL was previously offered as a one credit course available on an on-demand basis through the School of Education.
“WLAC is offering one ASL class only as an experiment to interest. Whether WLAC will offer more ASL classes will depend on student interest,” said Mike Ledgerwood, chair of World Languages and Cultures.
Ledgerwood said the course was pushed to be offered by a vocal music major after attending a trip to the Dominican Republic. The student was taking spanish classes to sing in Spanish but also wanted to have ASL to reach more people. After, WLAC met with the student and decided to offer ASL as a new class for next semester.
“For the fall semester WLAC will offer WLAC 340/American Sign Language through our Critical Languages Program. WLAC’s 340 course is our Advanced Career Studies course,” Ledgerwood said. “WLAC 340 has been used for a course that is an Introduction to Linguistics. Since the students who have contacted the department have been interested in learning ASL for career reasons this seemed to be the right course for these students.”
The course will only require three, instead of 10 students, to sign up to be offered since it is a part of the Critical Language Program, according to Ledgerwood.
“WLAC felt that this would be a good way to ensure that this course happens,” Ledgerwood said.
When the course was offered by the School of Education before, the school would find a deaf professional qualified to teach and supervise the class. WLAC will continue to do this by hiring a tutor from the Birmingham metro area for the course. The Critical Language Program model uses native speakers of less commonly-taught languages where WLAC faculty supervise the course, help with a syllabus, materials and test. Ledgerwood said this is the best model to use for this course.
“We have a native speaker of that language give a final exam that makes up half of a student’s grade. Thus this model also makes sense for ASL in terms of accreditation with our accrediting agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools,” Ledgerwood said.
The course will not count toward Samford language requirements since it is a 300-level course. Only 101 to 202 can be used toward the requirement.
“WLAC has discussed offering ASL over the years and we talked with Education last fall on doing this. Education was delighted for us to teach ASL if WLAC decided to,” Ledgerwood said. “The long term goal is to help students interested in using ASL in their careers.”
Daniel Dodson, News Writer