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LINGUIST 2SL3 Intro:American Sign Language

Academic Year: Winter 2018

Term: Winter

Day/Evening: E

Instructor: Prof. David Wiesblatt


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 512

Phone: 905-525-9140 x

Office Hours: Thursdays 10:00AM to 12:00PM

Course Objectives:

This course is an introduction to American Sign Language and it is most respected and recognized language used by Deaf people in United States and Canada and many parts around the world.  Students will learn its foundation (linguistic perspective), ASL dialogue skill set, syntax, how to read and write basic ASL GLOSSES, expanding ASL vocabulary, and Deaf Culture. There will be some discussions about their history and how it forms as a language with given perspectives on the language and the signing community in Canada. When you have an opportunity to learn American Sign Language, ASL as a second language, we will be discussing about what are "gains" (benefits) ASL can offer such as career opportunities.  Students taking this course study the linguistic fundamentals of ASL and learn to use it as their second language in appropriate socio-cultural context.

Note: Students are expected NOT to use their voiced language while they are learning to use the new language in the classroom. However, voiced language (spoken English) is allowed during the occasional discussion and while imparting general and specific information (with interpreters as arranged by the course director). Rationale: voiced language (spoken English) and signed language (ASL) follow a fundamentally different mode of communication rules and each language has its own rule-governed linguistic attributes that cannot mix without compromising its own language integrity.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Smith, C., E. M. Lentz and K. Mikos. 2008. Signing Naturally: Functional Notional Approach. Students Workbook, Unit 1-6. San Diego: Dawn Sign Press.

Method of Assessment:

20% -final exam

16% -midterm exam

16% -Unit dialogue tests

16% class assignments

12% occasional quizzes

10% class participation

5% reflection on ASL/Deaf community events/observance

5% voice-off rule observation

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Assignments: If you missed your assignment deadline, you can submit your late assignment with deduction of 25% for the lateness. I will not be accepting any assignments later than 7 days after the due date.

Quizzes: Quizzes will vary depending on the unit we will be working on. Some will be done in ASL and some will be in writing and some will be done via online.

Midterm and Exams: A separate instruction will be delivered to you and it must be done prior to deadline.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:

Unit 1 - Getting to Know You

Unit 2 - Exchanging Personal Information

Unit 3 - Discussing Living Situations

Unit 4 - Talking about Family

Unit 5 - Talking about Activities

Unit 6 - Storytelling