Contact a Humanities Office or Academic unit.
Find your course outlines.

LINGUIST 2SL3 Intro:American Sign Language (C01)

Academic Year: Winter 2019

Term: Winter

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Prof. David Wiesblatt


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 512

Phone: 905-525-9140 x

Office Hours: Thursdays 12:00PM - 2:00PM

Course Objectives:

Course Objectives:

This course is an introduction to American Sign Language and it is most recognized and used language in the United States and Canada as well, many parts around the world. Students will learn foundations that include: linguistic perspective, ASL dialogue skill set, syntax, how to read and write basic ASL gloss, expanding ASL vocabulary, Deaf community, culture, and history. Students taking this course shall apply the linguistic fundamentals of ASL in appropriate socio-cultural contexts.

Note: Students are emphasized not to use their spoken language while learning and use ASL in the classroom. However, in specific situations, spoken language is allowed for occasional discussions for the purpose to impart general and specific information. In most expected cases, meetings with the professor shall be conducted in ASL with interpreters as arranged.

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:

Required Book:

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


Good working video camera to upload into avenue to learn (learning management system) -It can be from your computer, ipad or even iphone.

Method of Assessment:

Methods of Assessment:

Assignments, quizzes and exams will be evaluated using rubrics with specific skills and expectations within this course.  Both will be done in written English and/or American Sign Language.

25% -final exam

25% -midterm exam

20% -unit dialogue tests

20% -class assignments/quizzes

10% -reflection on ASL/Deaf community events/observance from TED Talks (all must be pre-approved)

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Assignments: Missed assignments could be submitted between 1 to 7 days late with a deduction of 25% of the mark. Any assignments submitted after 7 days will not be accepted. All assignments shall be submitted as expected by the last day of the course date. Any completed assignments submitted after the late deadline and/or the last day of the course would result being marked as zero.

Quizzes: Quizzes will be posted depending on the unit being studied. Some quizzes will be conducted in ASL, in writing, and via online postings. Any completed quizzes submitted after the deadline would result being marked as zero.

Midterm and Exams: Information and details about midterms and exams will be provided. Completion of all exams are expected to be done prior to the posted due date as per indicated. Any completed exams submitted after the deadline would result being marked as zero.

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 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


Class Sequence (Note: SUBJECT TO CHANGE)


Class 1:

Teaching Unit -Unit 1

Unit 1.1

Unit 1.2

Unit 1.3

Unit 1.4


1-Pre-Unit Welcome to ASL – Expectation

Unit 1.5

Unit 1.6

Unit 1.7

Unit 1.8

2-Pre-Unit-Strategies and Tips


Class 2:

Teaching Unit – Unit 1

Review 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 1.6, 1.7, 1.8 (fast track)

3-Pre-Unit-ASL & Deaf Culture

Unit 1.9

Unit 1.10

Unit 1.11

Unit 1.12

Unit 1 Review

Discuss about reflection on ASL/Deaf community events/observance- due by the end of the course date

Deliver Assignment #1 due by next class #4


Class 3:

Review & discuss about Assignment #1 (avenue to learn) due by Class #4

Teaching Unit – Unit 2

Unit 2.1

Unit 2.2

Unit 2.3

Unit 2.4

Unit 2.5

Unit 2.6

Unit 2.7

Unit 2.8

Unit 2.9


Class 4:

Review Unit 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4, 2.5, 2.6, 2.7, 2.8, 2.9 (fast track)

Teaching Unit – Unit 2

Unit 2.10

Unit 2.11

Unit 2.12

Unit 2 Review


Class 5:

Review Unit 2.10, 2.11, 2.12, Review

Teaching Unit – Unit 3

Unit 3.1

Unit 3.2

Unit 3.3

Unit 3.4

Unit 3.5


Class 6:

Review Unit 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, 3.5 (Fast track)

Teaching Unit – Unit 3

Unit 3.6

Unit 3.7

Unit 3.8

Unit 3.9


Class 7:

Review Unit 3.6, 3.7, 3.8, 3.9 (Fast track)

Teaching Unit – Unit 3

Unit 3.10


Unit 3.11

Unit 3.12

Unit 3.13

Unit 3.14

Unit 3.15

Discuss about Video Rubric


Class 8:

Midterm Exam


Class 9:

Unit 4.1

Unit 4.2

Unit 4.3

Unit 4.4

Unit 4.5

Unit 4.6

Unit 4.7

Unit 4.8


Class 10:

Unit 4.9

Unit 4.10

Unit 4.11

Unit 4.12

Unit 4.13

Unit 4.14

Unit 4.15

Unit 4R


Class 11:

Unit 5.1

Unit 5.2

Unit 5.3

Unit 5.4

Unit 5.5

Unit 5.6

Unit 5.7

Unit 5.8

Unit 5.9


Class 12:

Unit 6

Final Exams Discussions

Other Course Information:

Assignments, Quizzes and Exams:

Avenue to Learn (McMaster University Learning Management System): This course uses LMS for discussions, as well assignment, quiz and exam submissions. Students are expected to be familiar and use this system in order to succeed in the course. Any relevant information including instructions, dates, and communication will be conducted in this system. The professor shall be notified ahead of time of any issues with posting materials in the system. Any problems with login or accessing to the system shall be dealt with the IT department.

Video Submissions: Because ASL is not a spoken language, the most effective method to study, learn, document, and submit ASL work is through video. Students are expected to be able to know and have access to video equipment in their own choosing but must be posted online through Avenue to Learn.

Length of Video Recording: (subject to change)

Assignments and Quizzes: 3 minutes

Exams: 5 minutes

In order to submit videos that are of ASL academic standards, students are expected to apply the following criteria to receive performance marks:

For all videos:

          • Rubrics with specific skills and expectations will be provided for all video tasks. Inquires about video rubrics must be conducted prior to deadline. In class examples and practice will be applied, therefore, individual feedbacks for videos will not be provided.
          • Signing size in video must show signer’s body within 2 inches from the screen and shown in half body posture (either sitting or standing).
          • Videos must be in good quality and not blurry.
          • Proper plain dark shirt with plain background with good lighting.
          • Clear and smooth ASL and fingerspelling.
          • Must sign your name (first and last), course name, and date.
          • Then “this video is a/an assignment, quiz or exam” and mention the unit number and title.
          • ASL must be done in a professional, and not social or informal conversational style.
          • Video assignments must be no more than three minutes long.
          • No animation, graphics or editing (cutting and changing video clips) permitted.
          • Videos shall be viewed several times, and drafts are encouraged for effective final ASL video work of excellent quality and expectations.
          • All videos must be original and in final draft.


Exam Videos:

          • Professor will provide ASL video exam instructions and expectations along with specific rubric for that exam.
          • Students are expected to develop ASL GLOSS video script first and submitted to professor for approval.
          • ASL GLOSS video script must be used to support students conducting ASL video exams.