American Sign Language Summer Institute: Beginner 1, 2, 3

This three-week Summer Institute comprises American Sign Language Beginner 1, Beginner 2 and Beginner 3, and is for those with no previous experience with American Sign Language (ASL).

Week 1
In Week 1, 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.

Learn 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.

Week 2
In Week 2, continue to build on the ASL skills and knowledge you learned in Week 1. Focus on discussing living situations, locations and basic directions. Learn how to ask “What is the sign for ___?” and new fingerspelling letters.

Week 3
Describe family members and how they are related, and learn how to specify someone’s age in Week 3.

You’re introduced to ASL storytelling, a visual literature that’s vitally important to preserving, sharing and passing on stories popular in Deaf culture from one generation to the next. There are many genres of ASL storytelling, including poetry, personal narrative, folktales, jokes and handshape stories. In this course, you learn the ASL story Timber.

The concept of maintaining a clear sightline is also introduced. Learn how to interact clearly, comfortably and respectfully with Deaf and hard of hearing people by establishing a clear line of sight, whether you’re the signer or the listener.

Read the full course outlines for Beginner 1Beginner 2 and  Beginner 3 (PDF).

Daily Schedule
Monday to Friday afternoons, focus on practical, true-to-life conversation practice in lively classes that blend instruction, feedback, small group and pair work.

On Tuesday and Thursday evenings, enjoy virtual visits from members of the Deaf and hard of hearing community. Discover the richness and diversity of Deaf culture as you develop your appreciation for the lived experiences of Deaf people. Increase your awareness of Deaf perspectives, and discover paths to inclusivity in your community.

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.

Technology Requirements
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.

This course covers units 1, 2, 3 and 4 of Signing Naturally 1–6, which can be ordered from the UBC Bookstore

Course Format

This Institute is offered in-person at UBC Robson Square in downtown Vancouver.

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.

Outside of class time, you can access other materials online at your own pace and rhythm. One business day before the course start date, we’ll email you step-by-step instructions for accessing the online component of your course as well as information on how to find your classroom at UBC Robson Square. Please note you can log in to your course for up to three weeks after the course ends. You will not be able to access course materials after this time.

Available Sessions

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Jul 8, 2024-Jul 26, 2024 | Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri | 1:00 PM-7:00 PM | UBC Robson Square | $1380.00

Format: In-Class
Code: SI876S24A
Offered: On Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri
Jul 8, 2024-Jul 26, 2024
Mon, Wed, Fri: 1:00 to 5:00pm PT / Tue, Thu: 1:00 to 7:00pm PT
15 sessions
1:00 PM-7:00 PM Pacific Time


Fees / Tuition

Type Fee Tax Total
$1380.00 $69.00 $1449.00