Does American Sign Language Count as a Foreign Language?
This article, from yesterday’s Tribune, raised some interesting questions in my allergy afflicted head about the goal and role of second language education in the curriculum.
It would seem that if the goal is exposure to a new culture and fluency in a language other than the one the students originally learned to express themselves in, that A.S.L. ought to count as fulfilling the requirement (so long as we agree that “culture” in the sentence above need not include ideas of ethnicity/nationality, but only of conventionalized practices of some sort–as I think contemporary anthropology defines it. Open to corrections on that, though.)
Yet, some object. From the article:
But the practice of awarding foreign language credit for American Sign Language coursework has been fiercely debated at universities across the country. Some educators argue an indigenous language by definition can’t be considered foreign. Others say a language must have literature for proper study.
Only a year removed from our own CCC Foreign Language Flare-up and amid broader questions of the role of Language study in General Education (see this article published today on some Gen Ed Curriculum revisions at George Washington University). I wonder what y’all think, particularly our ELL/WL faculty.
PS: I’m a big fan of the name change for that department–makes (almost) total sense to me. But why not just World Languages? Isn’t English a World Language? I’d have gone with that. Then I’d have tried to shorten it to WoLa in a year or two. I may try to do it here, actually…