Does sign language count as a foreign language?

November 23, 2011

Qυеѕtіοn bу Swarls: Dοеѕ sign language count аѕ a foreign language?
Hello. I’ve always hаԁ problems wіth foreign languages(tried taking Spanish) ѕο I wаѕ wondering іf sign language wουƖԁ count аѕ a foreign language credit.

I’m currently іn community college аnԁ hаνе earned mοѕt credits tο successfully transfer tο a university, bυt аm lacking mу foreign language credit. Wаѕ јυѕt wondering іf іt wаѕ common fοr colleges tο accept sign language аѕ thе foreign language credit. Mοѕt colleges I’ve researched require two units(οr two classes) οf thе same foreign language.

Thanks. I’ll appreciate аnу advice уου mау bе аbƖе tο give.

Best аnѕwеr:

Anѕwеr bу Emily M
It depends οn thе policies οf thе college.

Know better? Leave уουr οwn аnѕwеr іn thе comments!

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4 thoughts on “Does sign language count as a foreign language?

  1. RoaringMice on said:

    Many colleges will accept sign language as a foreign language credit. Some won’t, but many will. Since you don’t believe you’d be successful in Spanish, why not try ASL? A lot of people who don’t do well in verbal languages do well in ASL, because it’s got a physical component, which helps them remember.

  2. firefly_fliesby on said:

    It depends on the college. There are basically two schools of thought on sign language. One says that it’s a new form of communication, and therefore can be counted as a language credit. The other reminds us that there are a wide variety of sign languages for different languages (American Sign Language, French, Chinese…), and because of this, it shouldn’t count as a foreign language unless you’re learning to sign in Chinese, French, etc. Ask admissions advisers for the specifics if you already have schools you’re considering transferring to.

  3. Sometimes yes, but quite often, no.

    ASL is both an extremely foreign and an extremely complex language. People routinely underestimate it. It is one of the hardest languages to learn. (If you do it correctly.) It is every bit as difficult as German or Chinese. It is definitely not going to be easier than Spanish. There is no question about that.

    When a language has a compleatly different system of syntax than your native tongue, as is the case with ASL, it is especially difficult to learn. (ASL is not based on English. [English is an SVO language where ASL is an OSV language.] You do not simply exchange Signs for words.) It takes most of my average students at least four semesters just to get a grasp of basic ASL sentence structure. Then it gets more complex from there!

    ASL is still not recognized as a bona fide language by most colleges and universities. We have been lobbying for reform, but there is great resistance. The erroneous consensus is that ASL is nothing more than “English on the hands”. (They could not be more mistaken, but that is how it is viewed.) Therefore, it is difficult to find institutions that offer any kind of a degree in ASL– even an associate’s. (To get a degree, then, you would have to majour in something like interpreting, “Deaf studies”, or “Deaf education”. And ASL is part of that.)

    Normally, when you take and compleat an ASL course, you get no degree or certification. You only qualify to take the certification test. (These are farmed-out, and they are VERY tough.)

    The schools that do offer a degree in ASL are usually flooded beyond capacity. Students enrolled in the ITP (Interpreter Training Programme) are given preferential treatment. If you are taking ASL as part of a different discipline, you will be second-choice. Too, classes are often canceled once the students find-out how difficult ASL is. So you might very well get bumped at the last minute.

    Because ASL has not been accepted as a language, it has not been standardized. As a result, much of what is taught as “ASL” is not really ASL at all– but some version of simply signing English. This is nothing like what Deafs do. You could take ASL at one school, transfer to another, and find that what you have studied is not given any credit. You could also take “ASL” at one school, transfer to another school, and find that what you have been studying is not really ASL at all– or it was so regional that half of it is worthless. In that case, you would have to unlearn and relearn– and work much harder than is practicable just to tread water. That is definitely something to think about.

    So it varies greatly from one school to another. Things are beginning to change– VERY slowly. ASL, as an elective, is being accepted for credit by more and more institutions. But, because courses are taught by Hearing people, rather than Deafs, one has to wonder about the quality of the material.

    ASL has a very high attrition rate. But some people do succeed at it. Just don’t expect for it to be easy, know that it takes a HUGE investment of time and energy (you will have to do tons of very demanding projects), and you might not get credit in the end.

    Take some virtual classes at , and see what you think.

    I am Hard-of-Hearing, a native ASL Signer of thirty years, a nurse, a Sociologist, an ASL teacher, and an authour of ASL media. I have lived and Signed all over the United States, so I am well-versed in regional Signing. See my other posts for more ASL information.

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