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eDL Course American Sign Language 3b

American Sign Language 3b: Conversations & Culture

Are you ready to discover ways in which Deaf culture influences the world in general? After all, the concept of culture goes far beyond an understanding of Deaf history. Through discussing Deaf culture and experiences, you’ll advance your signing skills by developing verb tenses, grammar, and syntax. Apply your language skills in real conversation activities and through opportunities to debate real issues. It’s also time to explore the next steps in education and career opportunities for your new intermediate ASL skills.

Review Course Outline

Units at a Glance

Unit 1: Hot Topics: Illustrating Facts

Do you disagree with your best friend about an important issue? Well, you might not know it until you try to discuss a controversial issue! Topics like politics, the environment, and climate science can be tricky to discuss (even in English) with friends or family members if opinions disagree. Here, we will learn how to engage in productive debate in ASL using correct grammar and facts to back up our positions.

What will you learn in this unit?

  • Develop logical arguments in ASL to have productive ASL discussions on controversial issues
  • Use circumlocution and classifiers to describe complex environmental issues
  • Formulate discussions around climate topics using scientific vocabulary in ASL
  • Analyze political activism in the Deaf community

Unit 2: People, Places and Things: Past and Future

In ASL, signing in the present tense is the default, but there are also important grammatical structures that help us relate past and future concepts in our signing. Getting more clarity on past and future conventions in ASL grammar can help you not only in everyday conversations but also when it is time to give a formal presentation. Armed with more grammar structures, we can dive deeper into the ways world history and Deaf history have points of parallel and how Deaf perspectives can influence the way we see historical events and future possibilities for the Deaf community and ourselves.

What will you learn in this unit?

  • Formulate ASL sentences using past and future concepts correctly
  • Summarize the grammatical rules and constructions for past, present, and future in ASL
  • Integrate your knowledge of world history and ideas with research on Deaf participation in events and ideas
  • Develop ideas for research into topics that compare and contrast Deaf history and experience with the mainstream source materials and ideas of the times

Unit 3: Community Activities

It’s time to take action and participate in community life. To prepare you, we’ll look at some fun new action vocabulary and learn about the different types of verbs in ASL. Plus, a deeper understanding of the process of hearing can help you to empathize with the experience of Deaf individuals in our culture. Speaking of culture, let’s hone our skills at finding Deaf cultural events of all different types. We’ll give tips and tricks for finding ways to use your ASL and further explore the cultural differences you will find between hearing and Deaf cultures.

What will you learn in this unit?

  • Differentiate between different verb types in ASL
  • Sketch the process of hearing to understand different causes of deafness
  • Formulate ways to advocate for Deaf causes
  • Investigate the causes for cultural differences between Deaf and hearing cultures

Unit 4: Language and Culture

Language geeks, join us and expand your mind as we explore the many ways to construct plurals, inflect for distribution, and sort signs into categories. We know a bit about language and culture already, but we also have more language skills than we did the last time we discussed this topic! Here, we’ll dive a bit deeper into some cultural considerations and see if we can flex our skills in both formal and informal contexts.

What will you learn in this unit?

  • Construct plurals and use distributional aspects in ASL
  • Analyze signs to categorize them as iconic, arbitrary, or loaned, and explore the relationships of signs with common roots
  • Compare the structure of ASL to English, both in grammar and syntax
  • Identify five different registers of language in ASL and in English

Unit 5: Comparing Cultures

Culture is a multifaceted construct, with language often at the core. But the concept of culture goes far beyond an academic understanding of Deaf history or experience on a large scale. What we do for fun as individuals and how we individually view our world and process information all contribute to how we “live out” our culture. And, is seeing believing? How do media representations of Deaf culture stack up to reality? How can we understand more about Deaf culture by comparing different Deaf communities to one another?

What will you learn in this unit?

  • Analyze media history for changes in depictions of deafness
  • Engage in Deaf cultural activities to more fully understand Deaf culture
  • Research the ways in which Deaf culture influences the hearing world, and vice versa
  • Reframe the idea of rights for the Deaf community as cultural rights rather than disability rights

Unit 6: Interpreting and Other Careers for Proficient ASL Signers

Do you want to do something with your ASL skills? Consider opportunities to use your new knowledge in your school or the community to create events or activities, volunteer, or teach others some of what you know. Are your ambitions even more far-reaching? If you want to become a professional ASL interpreter, there are many things to consider. With possible jobs in education, the community, health care, or in relay service work, interpreters have lots of choices to match their preferences and personalities. But wherever you go with the knowledge you’ve gained, never forget the impact Deaf culture has made.

What will you learn in this unit?

  • Organize Deaf Awareness events inside and outside the school setting
  • Differentiate between interpretation, translation, and transliteration
  • Describe the different types of interpretation employment opportunities
  • Apply your knowledge of ASL and Deaf culture to the wider world, deriving insights and novel ideas from the comparisons

Required Materials


Students in ASL 3a and 3b will need to practice their conversational ASL skills with a partner or group to advance their language skills to the intermediate level. For safety reasons, we ask that the teacher or school district locate another ASL student or member of the Deaf community who is willing to be a conversation partner in person or over video chat. If this conversation partner is not able to meet, the student will need the school district or teacher to locate an alternate conversation partner with whom to practice and complete assignments.

Students will also be asked to attend several Deaf events in the community. Alternate activities are provided for those students who are not able to find events in their areas or secure transportation.


  • Word processing program (like Word or Google Docs)
  • Graphic design tool (like Canva)
  • Slideshow program (like Powerpoint or Google Slides)
  • Spreadsheet software (like Excel or Google Sheets)



  • Cell phone, tablet, or computer camera with video recording abilities



  • Access/transportation to a Deaf event
  • Proof of event attendance (photo, signed letter, etc.)
  • Conversation partner
  • Community members or community program with which to volunteer or help
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