American Sign Language Beginner 1 is designed for those with no previous experience with American Sign Language (ASL).
In this course, you’re introduced to ASL, a complete visual language with distinct grammar and sentence structures. ASL uses the hands, body, facial expressions and movement to communicate. From the first day, you’re in an immersive signing-only environment with no spoken English. Our experienced Deaf instructors use ASL, gestures, slides and occasional written English to help you learn.
Beginner 1 focuses on learning how to introduce yourself, sign numbers, identify locations, talk about leisure activities and much more. You’re also introduced to fingerspelling, a signed alphabet that is used to spell proper names or to form more complex signs. By the end of this course, you should be able to engage in simple sign language conversations.
You’re also introduced to the richness and diversity of Deaf culture. Develop your appreciation for the lived experiences of Deaf people and the Deaf community, increase your awareness of Deaf perspectives, and discover paths to inclusivity in your community.
Read the full course outline (PDF).
How Am I Assessed?
This is a non-credit course without letter or numerical grades. You receive feedback on your sign language skills from your instructor during class, and on homework you complete outside of class. At the end of the course, you prepare and sign a short presentation to demonstrate that you’ve learned the required skills to move on to the next level.
Outside of class time, you should allow one to two hours per week to practise signing, complete homework and textbook exercises, watch and record videos, and prepare presentations.
To take this course, you’ll need access to:
- an email account
- a computer, laptop or tablet under five years old and using Windows or Mac OS
- the latest version of a web browser (or previous major version release)
- a reliable internet connection
- a video camera
One day before the start of your course, we’ll email you step-by-step instructions for accessing your course.
This course covers units 1 and 2 of Signing Naturally 1–6, which can be ordered from the UBC Bookstore.
This course may be offered online, in-person, or a combination of both. Please see Available Sessions for details on the course format.
All of our ASL classes are taught by Deaf instructors experienced in teaching hearing and hard of hearing students. Spoken English is not used in class. Our instructors use ASL, gestures, slides and occasional written English (in the Zoom chat or on white boards in class) to support and help you learn to communicate confidently and comfortably in ASL. You’ll also quickly learn signs to show understanding, to ask for clarification, and to ask your instructor to repeat something.
For your online classes, you log in to your class at scheduled times and participate by video with Zoom, a web conferencing app. For a virtual ASL classroom to be successful, we require you to turn on your video, and join from a place where you won’t be disturbed and can remain for the entire class. Moving around can be distracting for your classmates and instructor, and make it difficult for you to participate.
Outside of class time, you can access other materials online at your own pace. Please note you can log in to your course for up to three weeks after the course ends. You’ll no longer be able to access course materials after this time.
Learn more about online learning at Extended Learning.