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Gallaudet University Review

Thursday, May 30th

2024 Sign Language Lesson Reviews

Gallaudet University Review 3 Star Rating

Gallaudet University

3 Star Rating
  • $990 per course
  • Bilingual institution offering instruction in both English and American Sign Language established in 1864
  • Virtual campus for remote, asynchronous learning
  • Credits earned from its courses may be transferable
  • Comprehensive curriculum from beginner to advanced levels
  • Courses cover diverse aspects of Deaf culture and community
  • Courses include interaction with language mentors and participation in online social events
  • Offers a summer residency program for immersive learning

Gallaudet University, established in 1864 with the backing of President Abraham Lincoln, is a bilingual institution for both deaf and hearing students, offering instruction in both English and American Sign Language. The university is based in Washington, D.C., but also offers a virtual campus to extend its reach.

Credits may be transferable

At the time of our last review, Gallaudet University used to offer a resource called "ASL for Free" , but it seems to have been phased out. Now, all you'll find is ASL Connect, which is part of the university's Center for Continuing and Online Education unit. If your school authorizes it, the credits earned in this course may be transferable.

No preview of online interface

The beginning courses (ASL 1-4) are asynchronous, while the later courses (ASL 5-6) are not. Unfortunately, Gallaudet doesn't provide any examples of what the online classroom looks like. This could be a problem because when you're learning a visual language online, you may want to know things like whether you can slow down videos.

Best Sign Language Lessons

ASL 1 is an introduction to ASL history and basic topics

ASL 1 is your gateway to American Sign Language and Deaf Culture. You'll start by learning how to interact with the Deaf community, such as getting someone's attention and understanding Deaf-friendly spaces. You'll learn how to introduce yourself using topics like family, work, school, and important events. The course will teach you the basics of ASL, like hand movements, spelling with your fingers, and using your face to express feelings and grammar. You'll learn about ASL's unique structure and its history. The course ends by helping you understand the challenges deaf people face in education and work, and how learning ASL can help level the playing field. It's either 8 or 15 weeks long and includes 6 Scheduled Virtual Language Sessions with an Instructor or with Teaching Assistants.

ASL 2-4 enrich your knowledge of Deaf community and culture

In ASL 2, you'll deepen your connection with the Deaf community by learning about Deaf spaces and etiquette, expanding your vocabulary, and understanding the importance of semantics in ASL. You'll also learn about Deaf culture's cherished folklore. In ASL 3, you'll dive deeper into the diverse Deaf community and its unique culture and language. You'll learn how to host a gathering and describe your surroundings, including the unique structure of Deaf-friendly homes. In ASL 4, you'll learn to express concepts about careers, finance, health, and travel. You'll understand how deaf people access employment and services and how they navigate emergencies and travels, highlighting their unique communication abilities.

ASL 5 and 6 strengthen your narrative abilities and accessibility sensitivities

By ASL 5, you're ready to take your skills to the next level by learning to tell longer stories, also known as "narratives". You'll dive into the history of ASL and discover how it was preserved by brave individuals from the Deaf community. ASL 5 also gets into mouth morphemes - did you know a sign can mean two different things depending on how the mouth moves? Finally, in ASL 6, you'll delve deeper into the unique aspects of Deaf culture, known as a "collective community". Your foundation in the language will help you tackle specialized topics prevalent in the Deaf community. You'll enhance your narratives by adding cinematic features, and apply these strategies to various topics like the human body, medical procedures, sports, and animals. Lastly, you'll learn how to ensure sporting events and performances are accessible to individuals with different sensory needs.

Best Sign Language Lessons

Paid immersion and social opportunities

ASL Connect courses also provide chances to interact with language mentors and participate in online social events, and even attend a summer residency program, but these come with extra costs.

$990 per course

Each course you take is worth 3 credits and these credits cost $990. There's also an application fee of $40 per session, but it's not entirely clear what this means. There are Virtual Immersion activities, or sessions, where you can immerse yourself in ASL, but these already cost between $50 and $100. So, charging $40 just to apply seems a bit confusing. It might mean that the application fee is for each individual course you take.

Too expensive for most

While Gallaudet University offers an impressive curriculum for learning American Sign Language, the high cost makes it near impossible for most people to afford. If you have the budget, we're sure Gallaudet could give you an incredible education in ASL, but sadly, it's not an option for everyone. Additionally, they've discontinued their free ASL resource, which is disappointing. For these reasons, we can only give Gallaudet University an average score for its sign language lessons.

Where Can You Find the Best Sign Language Lessons Online?

Maybe you've decided to learn sign language because you have a deaf child, or perhaps there's a new student at your school who is hard of hearing and you'd like to befriend them. Or it could be that you're simply fascinated by this beautiful, expressive language and want to expand your communication skills. Whatever your reason, learning sign language opens up a new realm of possibilities for connection and understanding.

Learning sign language is unlike picking up any spoken language. You're not just memorizing vocabulary and grammar; you're learning to convey and interpret messages through gestures, facial expressions, and body language. Imagine expressing complex emotions or detailed narratives with your hands and face - it's a whole new way of thinking and communicating.

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Sign Language Lesson FAQ

According to the Communication Service for the Deaf, around one million people use American Sign Language (ASL) as their primary means of communication in the US and Canada. There are also approximately 16,000 people in the US who serve as interpreters with sign language.
Yes, because there is no universal sign language. Even among countries where the same spoken language is used (like Australia, England, and the United States), sign language users from different nations may not understand each other. There are also three different primary forms of sign language within the US: ASL, Pidgin Signed English, and Signed Exact English, with ASL being the most commonly used.
ASL has its own structure and is a language in its own right. The visual component of sign language means that the hands, arms, face and head are all used to convey meaning in ways that aren't an inherent part of spoken English. Also, many of the grammatical constructs common to English (like pluralized nouns and articles like "a" and "the" ) don't exist as words within American Sign Language.
You might think that sign language will be easy to learn quickly, because it seems similar to English. Experts say that's a misconception: expect it to take 2-3 years of regular study to get to an intermediate level of fluency, and an additional 2 years of interpretation training if you want to reach full fluency.
No. Some people use sign language to teach basic words and concepts to their babies, like "more" and "all done", before the children are able to talk. Sign language can also be used by people who are non-verbal. And, many learners like studying ASL just for the enjoyment of it!
Finding a sign language class near you might be difficult. While there are often beginner courses taught at libraries and community centers, or offered by colleges and universities, you might not be able to find lessons near you - or ones that fit your schedule and budget. The nice thing about online sign language lessons is that you can learn at your own pace. Need to watch the instructor do each new word or phrase 20 times before you feel you've got it? No problem!
Not necessarily. Some providers of ASL instruction charge a one-time fee for books, videos, and/or downloadable materials, while others operate on a month-to-month subscription basis for access to online coursework. Both approaches to sign language lessons are affordable, and are usually much less costly than paying for classes at a college or university.
Sometimes. It depends on where you buy your sign language lessons. We recommend that you see what each course offers as a preview before you sign up, whether that's a demo lesson, downloads of sample coursework, or a free 7-day trial. The more you know about how the lessons are taught and what's covered beforehand, the easier it will be to determine which ASL coursework is right for you.
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Continued from above...

Also, keep in mind that sign language is not universal; each country, and sometimes regions within countries, has its own sign language with distinct rules and grammar. This means that learning American Sign Language won't necessarily enable you to communicate with someone who uses British Sign Language (BSL), for example.

Online sign language lessons have surged in popularity over the years. This can be attributed to several reasons that make these lessons an attractive option for a diverse range of learners. But one of the main reasons for the popularity of online sign language lessons is the unparalleled convenience they offer.

Sign language learners can access courses over the internet from anywhere in the world, eliminating the need for physical attendance at specific locations. This flexibility is particularly beneficial for people with busy schedules, letting them learn at their own pace and at times that suit their personal and professional commitments.

Another reason why online sign language lessons are so popular is they can provide a wealth of resources and interactive tools that enhance the learning experience. These can include video tutorials, live classes, interactive exercises, and community forums, all designed to foster a deeper understanding and proficiency in sign language.

The multimedia approach of online sign language lessons caters to different learning styles, ensuring that both visual and auditory learners can all benefit from the courses. High-quality video demonstrations by native signers help learners grasp the nuances of signs, facial expressions, and body language, which are crucial aspects of effective communication in sign language.

If you're considering online sign language lessons, you'll find them a flexible, accessible way to learn. Maybe your schedule is packed, and you need to fit lessons in between other commitments. Or you live in a place without a strong Deaf or hard-of-hearing community to practice with. Online lessons offer the chance to learn from the comfort of your home, with resources like video tutorials that show you exactly how to form each sign, and interactive courses that provide feedback on your signing skills.

When you're choosing an online sign language course, keep these points in mind:

  • Content quality and relevance. You'll want a course that covers everything from the basics to more advanced conversations. For example, if you're learning sign language to communicate with a deaf child, look for lessons that include signs for family, emotions, and daily routines.
  • Interactive learning tools. Opt for courses that make learning fun and effective with quizzes, games, or even a virtual practice buddy. This can help you practice signing in real-time, which is crucial for building your confidence.
  • Feedback and support. It can be helpful to have access to personalized feedback on your signing. Some platforms may offer video assessments or allow you to connect with experienced signers for advice.
  • Flexibility and accessibility. Whether you prefer learning late at night or during your morning commute, the best online lessons work with your schedule and are accessible on various devices.

Top Consumer Reviews has taken a close look at the available options and ranked the best sign language lessons to help you on your way. Whether you're just starting or looking to deepen your knowledge, we hope this guide aids you in finding the perfect sign language lessons to fit your life and learning goals.

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