since 1965  (really?)

Introduction to American Sign Language

This course listing applies to a Spring 2010 course. To find current courses, check out the Find a Course page.

Spring 2010
Linguistics 98/198
2 Unit(s)

Human friendly URL (OBSOLETE)


About the Course:


None! No prior language experience is necessary.  Just an interest in learning new and exciting language, and anyone who wants to be able to do any or all of the following:
-chat in a noisy environment (bar, cafe, karaoke, club)
-speak through glass windows
-whisper without having people around you hear
-talk with your mouth full
-communicate with babies before they're old enough to talk

Course Description and Purpose:

This course in an introduction to American Sign Language, a visual-spatial language used by over a million people in North America and around the world.  We want to expose the UC Berkeley campus to the beauty of ASL, and you are here to help us achieve this goal.  After taking this course, you should know the manual alphabet, fingerspelling, numbers, basic questions and sentence structures, how to integrate facial expressions for grammar, and how to further your education in sign language if you so desire.  Most importantly, you will learn to communicate in images rather than words.  Deaf culture and history will also be integrated into the lessons.

Class Structure:

There are two sections offered for this DeCal.  Each class meeting is two hours, with a short break halfway.  Class meetings will be conducted in ASL, and will provide an immersion language learning environment.  Do not worry about understanding every single sign, but grasp the general meaning.  Class begins with a review of previous material through shared answers to homework assignments.  A new lesson is introduced and practiced.  Lessons will be taught using a variety of methods, such as pictures, videos, and conversations.  There will be small group interactions and games to reinforce the lessons learned.

Course Requirements:

1. Textbook - None required.  Instead we will make use of handouts and various online resources in addition to what we introduce in class.  However, if you would like to have a book handy, we would be happy to suggest some titles.
2. Assignments - There will be several assignments over the course of the semester.  Some will require you to look up information, observe your environment, watch videos uploaded to YouTube and write down answers to questions.  Please come prepare to share your answers in class.
3. Attendance and Participation are crucial to your success in this course.  The class forms a small community and your effort impacts the success of the class.  With class meetings only once a week, you will miss a lot if you do not show up.  Tardiness is also a distraction for the class, and will be counted as half an absence.  Up to 2 absences may be made up, and details will be given.
4. Practice - As in learning any language, the more practice you have, the better you will become.  I encourage you to form practice groups and attend Deaf community events as often as possible.  Use every opportunity to practice what you've learned.  For example, you can practice fingerspelling names of stores and people.  Feel free to teach signs to your friends, so you can reinforce what you've learned as well as have someone to sign to.

"No-talking" Policy - The ASL DeCal classroom is a no-talking zone.  Talking is not allowed during class.  It distracts students from practicing and developing their language skills.  If you don't understand me or another student, please ask for me to repeat or clarify.  If a student asks you for help feel free to help them but in SIGNS.  If you must talk, please talk outside.  If you need to talk with me, please do so after class, or during office hours.  This rule is not meant to intimidate, but to promote finding other ways to express yourself, as well as establish a consistent classroom atmosphere.

5. Exams - There will be two types of exams.  Please see the class schedule for dates and topics.  If you miss an exam because of an excused absence, you may have the opportunity to make up the exam by appointment.

Comprehension Exam - This exam tests your receptive skills.  I will sign information that you will answer in writing.  There will be two comprehension exams, each taking about 30 minutes.

Expressive Exams - This exam tests your expressive skills.  You will rehearse material and be ready to sign to me.  There will be two expressive exams, each taking about 5-10 minutes.


Attendance and Participation 40%
Assignments 20%
Comprehension Exam (1) 10%
Comprehension Exam (2) 10%
Expressive Exam (1) 10%
Expressive Exam (2) 10%

Extra Credit - There will be opportunities to earn extra credit, such as attending a Deaf event, or doing a presentation/report on a Deaf topic.  Details will be announced throughout the semester.

The only grading option for this class is Pass/No Pass. To pass this class you will need to score higher than 60% of the total points, as well as have no more than 3 absences.


How to Enroll:

Update  Feb. 1st

Thank you for your patience. It was a long and difficult process selecting students. All of you were fantastic!!! Both sections are full - disregard the Thursday -open section. Those in the class should have received an email  about enrollment.  Only come to class if you received this letter. I am also keeping some students on a waiting list. If you would like to audit the class please contact me. Thank you so much for your applications. There may be an opportunity for a sign language club TBA.--- Kolieka

*Update 1/26/10 7:05PM*

We have been receiving a lot of repeat emails asking for time, first day of class, how to enroll/get the CCN, or otherwise wondering if we've forgotten them.  We have not forgotten you.  As of 5 minutes ago, there have been over 220 interested students, and it is taking us a while to get through everyone, to narrow it down to the 40 we are allowed to have.

We will let everyone know whether they got in or not by the end of the day Friday, Jan 29.

Please be patient just a little longer!



*Update 1/25/10*

Classes will meet the week of FEB.1st.

We will also update again regarding enrollment.
Please do not show up to class unless you have received an email from the instructors notifying you that you may enroll.


*Update 1/23/10 7:48PM*

The times and locations are finally revealed to us.  They are listed below by the corresponding facilitator's name.  We will update again when we've decided if we will start classes the week of Jan 25 or if we will begin the week of Feb 1.  We will also update again regarding enrollment.  Please check back again soon!

*Update 1/20/10 9:37PM*

There have been so many emails already in these 2 days!  Thank you everyone for your interest.  There are already many, many more interested students than we can enroll, although once the times are finalized, I'm sure there are some who cannot make some of the times.  However, please feel free to continue e-mailing us if you are interested.  We apologize that we still do not have notification regarding our sections times/locations.  Thank you for your patience and interest!

Please send an email to "asl.decal AT" indicating your Name, Year, Major, and Why you'd like to take the ASL DeCal.  Please also include any signing/ASL experience you have, if any.

Course Contact: asl.decal AT


Faculty Sponsor: Eve Sweetser

Time & Location:

Section 1Bryant Wang
20206 DwinelleW 5p-7p2/03full
Section 2Kolieka Seigle
20206 DwinelleTh 5p-7p2/04full

Uploaded Files:

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Course info last modified February 2, 2010. This page has been viewed 6505 times.

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