American Sign Language as a Language of Study
It is important to note that ASL is similar to other languages in subtlety and complexity. Research on language development of ASL as a first language in Deaf children, or in hearing children of Deaf parents, shows that children can begin to acquire ASL from birth. ASL acquisition is similar to all language acquisition. The acquisition of ASL linguistic features and structures has been shown to develop in the same “language box” in the brain as other languages (e.g., English and langue des signes québécoise [LSQ]), and along the same milestones as other languages. As with all languages, ASL requires extensive exposure and practice for proficiency beyond a basic level, especially to achieve ease with complexity and subtlety in the language. Consequently, ASL needs to be approached with respect and taught with the understanding that fluency occurs only over time.
The ASL as a second language curriculum promotes ASL culture and ASL community in a diverse, multilingual, plurilingual enriched learning environment so that students develop competency in ASL language and ASL literacy skills. With their learning supported by pedagogy that is informed by research into ASL as a language of study, students begin a process of acculturation into the ASL community. These research theories are reflected in pedagogical and assessment strategies and classroom practices through individual reflection, peer and teacher review, and processes of engagement and collaborative inquiry that support student development of ASL and ASL literacy.