SASL Journal Vol. 1, No. 1 - Page 22

ASL: Access, Benefits, and Quality Rosen Some schools for the deaf have begun to address the issue of ASL proficiency among deaf children. ASL intervention is used to identify and resolve difficulties, which may include review of sign vocabulary, structure and comprehension (Snoddon, 2008). There is a need for well-trained professionals that will not only address but also execute ASL intervention. Pathology in sign language production needs to be formally assessed to help combat the language deprivation situation faced by deaf children (J. H. Cripps, Cooper, S. Supalla, & Evitts, 2016). ASL intervention is currently provided by ASL specialists who are also teachers of the deaf. ASL specialists give assistance in class work with students and use ASL as a mediating, intervening language in enabling the students to comprehend the subject matter. As mentioned earlier, teacher preparation programs are ambiguous regarding ASL, and this is a serious concern. The fact that some ASL specialists offer classes in ASL for parents of deaf children is welcome, yet questionable in terms of professional knowledge and background. Curriculum for ASL as a second or additional language. At first glance, the curricular materials that are used by teachers of ASL as L2/Ln are multiple and impressive. Such materials include: A Basic Course in American Sign Language (Humphr ies, Padden, & O’Rourke, 1994); The American Sign Language Phrase Book (Fant, 1983); Bravo (Cassell, 1997); Learning American Sign Language Levels I and II (Humphries & Padden, 2004); Green Books: American Sign Language: Teacher’s Resource on Curriculum, Grammar and Culture and Student Text (Cokely & Baker-Shenk, 1980a-e); The Vista American Sign Language Series: Signing Naturally (Lentz, Mikos, & Smith, 2001, 2014; Mikos, Smith, Lentz, 2001; Smith, Lentz, & Mikos, 2008); and Master ASL! (Zinza, 2006). Each curriculum includes certain assumptions about language, teaching, and learning that are influenced by the prevailing theories and approaches in linguistics, the psychology of learning and teaching, and a value system for topics. In addition, curricula vary in emphasis on cultural information on the use of language in different social situations and with various persons, and the historical, political, economic, and social characteristics of the community. In spite of curricular availability, the questionable quality of training for ASL teachers as discussed earlier continues to be a problem. According to Rosen (2015), ASL teachers do not have a strong understanding of the theoretical, empirical, and pedagogical assumptions the various curricula have about L2 teaching and learning. Each of the ASL curricula rest on a variety of linguistic, learning, and pedagogical assumptions, which have transformed over time. Some teachers used ASL curricula that subscribe to older assumptions, while other teachers used ASL curricula subscribing to recent assumptions. There are inconsistencies in curricula used by teachers of ASL. Pedagogical practices are often created by ‘gut’ feelings, not scholarly, systematic understanding of what curriculum is, and what teaching entails. Inconsistencies in the selection of curricula used by L2 ASL teachers raises questions about the understanding of the teachers of the principles and practices in second language curriculum development and instructional strategies. The teachers need to understand the assumptions that guide the development of curriculum. More specifically, teachers need to acknowledge that curricula differ in the selection of topics, types of linguistic structures, and the degree of emphasis on vocabulary, grammar, and culture information in teaching and learning. The fact that many ASL teachers are deaf themselves (Cooper et al., 2008; Newell, 1995a,b) must be applauded for bringing authenticity to the learning experience of hearing students. These students find themselves not only learning a new language, but also having direct contact with those who use sign language as their primary language. One still wonders if deaf teachers’ own education plays a role in the present situation of how the metalinguistic awareness SASLJ, Vol. 1, No. 1 – Fall/Winter 2017 22