Language: Certification required to teach?
In a message dated 6/15/2006 7:10:53 PM Pacific Daylight Time,
Dear Dr. Vicars,
I have two questions: (I know you must be bombarded by lots
of questions, if you don't have time, I understand)
[Does a person have to be] certified to teach sign
language classes? If I wanted to teach sign language for babies,
must I be certified? I gather from
[what you've written elsewhere], some areas you
can get away without be certified and in other areas,
certification would be required.
Thank you very much,
In general you do NOT have to be certified:
To teach ASL in most community education settings.
* To open up your own business and invite students to take classes.
(But you will likely need a business license.)
* To teach ASL training workshops as a visiting instructor or
consultant in a corporate setting.
* To teach classes in your home.
Here are some circumstances wherein you are likely to need some kind
of certification or approval:
* You may have to get approval from your state if you
claim that your ASL program prepares and qualifies your students
for employment. Check with your State's division of
occupational licensing and or department of Education. For example
if you state in your advertising brochures or website that you
course prepares someone to "interpret for the Deaf" or that you are
offering "interpreter training" you may fall under certain state
guidelines that oversee the establishment and management of schools.
* If you teach ASL in a public K-12 school setting, it is likely that
you will need to be certified by your state's teacher credentialing
program. As time goes on, more and more states are setting up
specific certification for public school system ASL educators
* Some state higher education systems require instructors to show
proof of certification in ASL in order to teach in state run
colleges and universities.
But, believe it or not, it is generally easier to get a job teaching
part time at a college than it is to get a full time position
teaching in a public K-12 school setting. Some colleges will
actually hire you to be an adjunct instructor with no degree and no
certification. I put myself through college that way, grin.
Quite frankly I've never liked the idea of stressful,
subjective, opinionated, "certification testing." I think it is
asinine. I much prefer the idea of "ability documenting" via a
process of real-time unlimited instant feedback based on
objective criteria. For example, suppose we state that we want
to know if someone is good enough to "interpret" numbers? We
can objectively state that "good enough" means being able to
"catch" 7 digit numbers accurately on the first try 9 out of 10
times when those numbers are presented at a speed of 3 digits
That is an objective measure there is no discrimination or bias
involved. You either can do it or you can't.
Plus using a computer program in the privacy of your own home
you could practice again and again until you reach a success
rate of well over 9 out of 10 times at a speed faster than 3
digits per second. This would then be documented by the program
itself and you would simply move on to the next skill that needs
to be documented. Some people would move through the "ability
documenting" process very quickly, others would take many times
Candidates would be free to "fail" the test a massive number
of times, privately, without embarrassment, or additional
Other people, including those leaders of the "certifying
organization" would not know of a candidate's progress until
that candidate has already mastered the skill being
documented. Additionally, such leaders would have no say in
whether individuals receive documentation. The
documentation is automatically achieved when the objective
criteria is met. If organizational leaders feel that the
quality of current candidates' performance should be higher,
then the target criteria for future candidates is raised.
For example, from 7 digit numbers to 8 digit numbers.
Critics will say, "Sure, that works for documenting simple
number recognition skills, but such an approach wouldn't
work for complex grammar structures."
To which I reply that just as some software programs are now
"better at English grammar" than most English speakers,
there will come a day when gesture recognition software
programs will be better at ASL grammar than most ASL
speakers. This will sound preposterous to contemporary
readers of this article, but will seem patently obvious to
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