Course Sessions
Fall 2 Term Begins
Oct 22


American Sign Language (ASL) is the native language of deaf people in the U.S. and Canada. In this introductory ASL course, you’ll build your conversational skills to better communicate with the deaf individuals you encounter throughout your personal and professional life. Learn a vital skill that will open doors to a career as an ASL interpreter and help you advocate for the Deaf community.
  • Interact with an internationally-known deaf instructor with extensive experience teaching ASL in the arts community.
  • Gain exposure to the cultural and societal norms of the Deaf community.
  • Explore a blend of practical interpreter training and opportunities for creative application.
  • Enhance your resume and career.

Learning a new language is a great way to meet new people, familiarize yourself with new cultures and communicate with others. Our flexible, online courses are 8-weeks long and asynchronous to accommodate your busy schedule.

What will you learn in Foundations of American Sign Language?  

Week One:
-History of ASL and the Deaf Community
-Conversation Strategies
-Nonverbal Communication
-Assignments: Gestures and Tracing

Week Two:
-ASL Grammar: Statements and Questions
-Vocabulary and Numbers
-Active Listening
-Cultural Corner
-Assignments: Gesture Review, Sign the Numbers, What’s the Number and Role Shifting
-Tutoring Meeting

Week Three:
-How Did You Get There?
-Knowing Your Locations
-Stories, Numbers and Fingerspelling
-Assignments: Cardinal Numbers 30-66, Spatial Agreement and “Down” Letters
-Quiz: Vocabulary

Week Four:
-Reference Space, Pronouns and Negative Responses
-Proper Syntax
-Asking for Personal Information
-Assignments: Dialogue and Write the Signs
-Tutoring Meeting

Week Five:
-Midterm Preparation and Exam

Week Six:
-Days of the Week
-Daily Activities
-Day/Time & When Questions
-Opinions About Chores
-Assignments: Sign the Months, Time and Fingerspelling G & H
-Tutoring Meeting

Week Seven:
-Classifier Categories
-Subject/Object Pronouns
-Family Member Descriptions
-Assignments: Building a Fire: Using Classifiers, Family Members & Mini Dialogues

Week Eight:
-Final Preparation and Exam
-Tutoring Meeting

Required Materials (Not to register for until first day of class):


Peter Cook Photo

Peter Cook

Peter Cook is 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).

Courses: Foundations of American Sign Language, Intermediate Sign Language

Taking ASL 1 will be an exciting, new territory for you! (Hands waving instead of clapping.) You are about to learn one of the fastest growing foreign languages. Yes, I said foreign language, you will soon realize that American Sign Language (ASL) is a language on its own. This course is designed to guide you in the clearest yet, challenging ways, and your instructor will help you to achieve this level of ASL.

Why ASL from Peter
K. Crom Saunders Photo

K. Crom Saunders

K. Crom Saunders is an Associate Professor in the ASL Department at Colombia College Chicago where he teaches a number of ASL Linguistics, Deaf Studies and Interpreting courses. Saunders began working at Columbia in the Fall of 2009. He holds an MA degree in Creative Writing from California State University, Sacramento (2002). He earned his BA in English from California State University, Northridge (1996). Saunders is actively developing a body of research based on the representation of Deaf people in the media and how this ties in with the history and current development of ASL and Deaf culture.

Prior to joining the ASL Department at Columbia, Saunders taught a variety of ASL and ASL-English Interpretation courses at the University of Pittsburgh (2007-2009) and at the University of San Francisco (2007). Since joining Columbia College Chicago, he has helped to further develop the curriculum in the ASL Department and ASL-English Interpretation BA Program so students have a stronger foundation for not only their capstone courses, but also their careers as interpreters. Saunders also co-developed the foundation of the Deaf Studies BA Program and currently is the Director of the Deaf Studies BA Program.

Courses: Foundations of American Sign Language, Intermediate Sign Language