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A Guide for Parents and Students

Introduction to American Sign Language as a Second Language

American Sign Language (ASL) as a second language curriculum introduces students to a language that has a distinct grammatical and syntactic structure not derived from any other language, either spoken or written. ASL is a complex language that can express the full breadth of human experiences, including the theories and principles that are conveyed in disciplines such as science, education, history, politics, law, culture, sports, and literature.

Starting in September 2021, schools may choose to offer the ASL as a Second Language course for students to develop new language skills and cultural competencies. Students will begin to engage in basic ASL conversations with a focus on familiar topics. They will also develop skills to comprehend, construct, and present various basic ASL literary works and ASL texts and begin to develop an understanding of the connections between ASL, culture, identity and community. They will also develop the knowledge and skills necessary for lifelong language learning.

What students will learn:

The new curriculum describes the knowledge and skills that students are expected to learn. It is organized in four areas:

ASL Conversational Discourse

Students will:

  • develop the knowledge, skills and grammar structure needed to carry on a conversation.
  • analyse, interpret, reflect, construct and respond to ideas and information using different language techniques in the context of ASL culture.

Comprehending ASL Construction and Content

Students will:

  • develop knowledge and skills to understand ASL discourse forms used in a variety of contexts. 
  • use knowledge and skills to deconstruct and gain meaning from a variety of ASL literary works and ASL texts that reflect ASL culture and community.
  • use comprehension strategies to make meaning from ASL literary works and ASL texts.

Constructing ASL Content and Usage of ASL Grammatical Structures

Students will

  • develop knowledge and skills to create ASL works to ask questions, share information and convey ideas that reflect ASL culture.
  • plan, draft, revise, edit and publish a variety of ASL literary works and ASL texts, using the ASL constructing process.

Understanding the Connections Between ASL Language, Culture, Identity and Community

Students will:

  • learn to understand how ASL language connects to ASL culture, identity, histories, communities, roles in significant events and contributions to Canadian and global societies. 
  • broaden their knowledge on historical and current civic issues that have had an impact on ASL communities, enhancing students’ ability to participate effectively as Canadian and global citizens.

Resources and information

Ontario Association for the Deaf

Silent Voice