Speaking with Your Hands

ASL is a complete, complex language that employs signs made by moving the hands combined with facial expressions and postures of the body. It is the primary language of many North Americans who are deaf and is one of several communication options used by people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. ASL is a language completely separate and distinct from English. It has its own rules for pronunciation, word order, and complex grammar. While English speakers may ask a question by raising the pitch of their voice, ASL users ask a question by raising their eyebrows, widening their eyes, and tilting their bodies forward.

Extracted from the NIH, National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)

PGCC has a robust program in American Sign Language, including Levels 1-5 and upward, that are appropriate in a broad range of community applications – from personal interaction to public communication. As diversity in our community grows, it is proving to be of great benefit in both public-and private-sector workplaces and especially to educators, health care providers, and faith-based organizations. PGCC is a great place to start exploring, expanding or practicing ASL skills – from beginners with no exposure at all to those with advanced vocabularies and fluent ASL conversation skills.

Here's what a recent participant said about Dr. Raymont Anderson's ASL Skill Building class:

It has been a pleasure...as well as a great experience for me. Going in, I was very intimidated about what I did not know. However, Dr. Anderson was very accommodating and ensured that everyone was able to learn and participate. His enthusiasm and teaching technique made me feel comfortable, and I forced myself to stretch. I never worked so hard in "wanting" to go home and practice... I have already enrolled in two more classes and will definitely continue sharpening my skills in ASL.
Linda B.

Program Offerings

COM-349: Discover Sign Language. This online course will introduce students to the graceful, expressive language with which to communicate with deaf people. Students will learn to create the signs for numbers and the alphabet to finger spell proper names. The, to develop signing skills to sign phrases and expand to complete sentences. Topics include lip reading, baby signs, and the career of interpreting.

COM-325: Sign Language 1. This course offers an introduction to American Sign Language, including finger spelling, sending and receiving signs, background information on and receiving signs, background information on deafness, and interaction with the deaf community.

COM-330: Sign Language 2. This course is designed to continue lessons in finger spelling, sending and receiving signs, and interaction with the deaf community. Prerequisites: COM-325, Sign Language 1 or equivalent.

COM-326: Sign Language 3. This course emphasizes conversation with the deaf through additional signs, idioms, skill building, and interaction with the deaf community. Prerequisites: COM-330: Sign Language 2 or equivalent.

COM-331: Sign Language 4. Building toward the advanced level, students will continue to expand the grammatical features of American Sign Language with its own rules for pronunciation, word order, and complex grammar. Emphasis will be placed on increasing vocabulary, conversational skills, and the nuances of interaction with the deaf community. Prerequisites: COM-326: Sign Language 3 or equivalent.

COM-526: Sign Language 5. Students will continue to develop and practice skills in American Sign Language with a focus on fluid conversation, vocabulary building, and interaction with the deaf community. Prerequisites: COM-331 or equivalent.

COM-527: ASL Open Group Tutoring. For students who need additional coaching and/or want more practice before further developing their skills. Students will continue to develop and practice skills in American Sign Language through finger spelling, sending and receiving signs, and expanding their vocabulary with a focus on building fluid conversation. Prerequisites: COM-330 or equivalent.

COM-348: ASL Skill Building.This course will assist student's continued development of American Sign Language (ASL) skills. It will focus on refining the use of pronominalization, classifiers, spatial referencing, pluralization and non-manual markers. Students will refine the routine communicative functions of the language such as asking for directions. Relevant information about the Deaf Community and Deaf Culture will be included.

COM-379: ASL Conversation. Conversational courses serve the purpose of applying knowledge of American Sign Language (ASL) grammar and vocabulary as learned in Levels 1 - 4, to the description of increasingly complex constructs, processes and situations. Students incorporate multiple character role shifting into medium-length stories, narratives and the discussion of hypothetical issues. Information on cultural values and attitudes as they relate to the Deaf Community is also examined. This is an excellent course for anyone seeking to take the "American Sign Language Proficiency Interview" (ASLPI).

COM-337: ASL and the Performing Arts. This course will assist the ASL practitioner in developing the ability to use ASL in creative and expressive ways. The basics of ASL performing from translation to actual performing will include the dos and don'ts and hands-on exercises to develop the skills. Prerequisite: COM-325: Sign Language 1 and COM-330: Sign Language 2 (preferred).

COM-377: ASL Storytelling. For those proficient in ASL, this course is another application to use ASL in a creative and expressive way. Its focus will be on building skills to tell an effective idiomatic, visually pleasing, and grammatically accurate story with emphasis on sign production clarity and will include the use of mouthing morphemes, classifiers, and role shifting. Whether as entertainment, conversation or a formal presentation, storytelling in the deaf community is historically, culturally, and linguistically significant.

Ways to Register

  • View the latest Continuing Education Schedule of Classes
  • See the Index for the course(s) you are interested in.
  • Note the class schedule, dates, times and cost.
  • Follow the registration directions on the inside front cover of the schedule

Contact Informaton

Workforce Development and Continuing Education Customer Service
Phone: 301-546-0159
Email: wdce@pgcc.edu 

Continuing Education Certificate

A Continuing Education Certificate in American Sign Language is earned upon successful completion of 60 hours of coursework in the area. Foreign language courses may count toward this certificate.