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By Nicole Alexander
If your child is interested in learning a new language, or needs language credits for a program, but doesn’t want to study the usual choices offered, American Sign Language is a great alternative. ASL is the third most-commonly used language in the US, after English and Spanish, so being able to sign and interpret it is a practical skill. Signing Online is an online service that teaches ASL through video, in order to capture the nuances of this uniquely visual language.
The Signing Online curriculum consists of four courses, each of which builds on the preceding ones: Beginning, Basic, Intermediate and Advanced. Each course contains ten video lessons and a final exam. By the time the fourth course is completed, students should be able to converse competently in ASL.
Video-based learning is superior to attempting to learn ASL from a book because ASL is inherently visually expressive. Text and still pictures can portray the proper formation of signs, but they cannot demonstrate the flow, movement and facial expressions that are essential to the language.
The only prerequisite for students is that they be good readers; the courses are taught entirely without sound, so the ability to read the captions is essential. This is in order to simulate the way that a deaf person learns to sign, providing a more authentic experience. All of the instructors at Signing Online are themselves deaf.
Each course is $75, and access lasts for six months. A student can learn at his/her own pace (one lesson per week is recommended), and can go back over the lessons to review if s/he finishes before the six months are up. Final exams must be passed with a 60% grade or higher. Once a course is complete, a certificate of completion is available to print out. For students who want professional feedback on their expressivity and accuracy, a video appraisal service is available for an extra charge.
The courses are especially well-suited to groups of ten or more students; for a block rate, a homeschool co-op, church group, or other organization can register its members, who then can work at their own individual paces. The group administrator will have access to test results, be able to see how much time each student spends online, and have the ability to request that final exams be reset for any members who didn’t pass the first time. The Group administrator can also request a guided reading plan.
Many high schools and colleges accept Signing Online’s courses for credit, and educators and nurses can count them toward their continuing education credits.
For more information and to register for a course, visit www.SigningOnline.com.