Columbia College Chicago Online is expanding their American Sign Language program this fall with a new 8-week course, Intermediate American Sign Language II.  

Intermediate ASL II is part of an online 3-course series that began with the mission to make ASL education accessible around the world. Students with little or no background are introduced to the basics in Foundations of ASL before exploring more complex vocabulary and social skills in Intermediate ASL. The new online course builds upon Intermediate ASL to introduce skills that working professionals and aspiring translators can use in more complex situations like telling a story, describing food, navigating medical conversations, and discussing art.  

Beyond the mechanics of the language, Columbia Online students get to experience the rich and performative culture of the Deaf community. All three courses were created by award-winning Deaf faculty at Columbia College Chicago who travel the world performing in ASL. The college’s American Sign Language department has been a longstanding national leader in Deaf advocacy and ASL educationExpanding the department’s reach online has given students the chance to become part of the Columbia College tradition, regardless of where they live. 

“I took ASL through Columbia Online and it was an absolutely incredible experience,” said online ASL student, Mariam E. “As someone who was living in Minnesota, the online course provided me access to the great faculty and wealth of information that I would not have been able to access otherwise.” 

The Columbia Online ASL program launched in August 2017. Since its start, the courses have attracted hundreds of individuals who want to be able to use ASL both in their careers and their communities. From EMTs and nurses to teachers and parents of Deaf children, students are able to learn communication skills that change lives. 

Unlike most ASL courses that rely solely on video tutorials, Columbia Online courses provide the rare opportunity for students to watch interactive lectures and learn one-on-one each week through individual virtual tutoring. This level of engagement is key to recreating the traditional classroom experience. 

By learning the basics of ASL online, students can also lay the foundation for a future career as an ASL Interpreter—a career that has seen a recent boost in demand. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of ASL interpreters and translators is projected to grow 18 percent through 2026. This is significantly higher than the industry average. Note that Columbia Online courses do not provide ASL interpreter certification but can be taken for college credit.  

For prospective students interested in learning American Sign Language with Columbia Online, enrollment is now open online for classes beginning Monday, October 21. Students with previous experience are welcome to enroll in Intermediate ASL or Intermediate ASL II, but we recommend Foundations of ASL for beginners. For any questions, please reach out to our team of student advisors via email at advising@online.colum.edu or call 312-369-5646 (JOIN). 

About the Course Author of Intermediate American Sign Language II 

Peter Cook is an Associate Professor in the Department of ASL-English Interpretation and an internationally known Deaf performing artist. Using American Sign Language, pantomime, storytelling, acting, and movement, Cook has performed at numerous festivals across the country—the Jonesboro National Storytelling Festival, The Deaf Way II, and at the Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. 

Cook has an MA in Storytelling from East Tennessee State University (2011) and a BFA in Graphic Design from Rochester Institute of Technology (1986). 

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