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Teaching ASL at a high school vs. at a college:

Perhaps it is time to move toward merit-based course completion rather than minute-based?

In general, according to state statutes or guidelines throughout the U.S., a class must consist of 75 hours to meet a 1-semester unit requirement (including study and class time) which is a half-unit (.5) of yearly credit. It takes 120 hours of class & study time to qualify for 1-credit (year credit). Purportedly, two college semesters count as four high school semesters. Thus two semesters of college is counted as being equivalent to 2 years of high school foreign language.

So we have a situation in which state laws tend to indicate that one semester of "college ASL" = one year of "high school ASL."

HOWEVER, if you look at actual classroom contact hours, one year of high school is the equivalent of 4 semesters of college at 3-units per semester. Consider the numbers: A typical high school year consists of 180 school days. The math is pretty simple: 180 days multiplied by an hour a day comes to a 180 hours. In other words, a high school teacher of ASL 1 is going to need to come up with 180 hours of instructional content, explanations, entertainment, discussions, inspiration, testing, and practice activities. If you go by 50 minutes per hour to allow for typical transition time between classes you still end up with 180 x 50 = 9,000 minutes of (expected) instruction in an ASL 1 HS class.

A typical college class consists of only 3 hours per week times 15 weeks. That would be 45 contact hours of instruction. (Not including the final exam). If we use a 50-minute hour (to allow for breaks for breaks), we end up with 2,250 minutes of classroom instruction.

Let that sink in:

College ASL 1 = 2,250 minutes of instruction.
High School ASL 1 = 9,000 minutes of instruction

That means HS instructors are expected to come up with an additional 6,750 minutes of "educational programming" above and beyond what is taught and offered at the college level. It is based on the mistaken idea (wish / hope) that college students actually go home and do an extra 2 hours of homework for every hour in class. (30 years of teaching have made it clear to me that 2 for 1 studying ratio typically doesn't get done by 24 out of 25 ASL students. There are ways to force it via flipping the classroom and giving copious tests during class time -- but that is a different topic.)

Before diving into becoming a HS ASL instructor, wrap your mind around the idea that the system is unequal in regard to expectations of HS instructors vs college instructors and the curricula they use.

It is my belief that if I had my (college) students for 9,000 minutes per class -- and were allowed to remove unmotivated students from my classroom, using a typical list of ASL Major classes (ASL 1 - 5, Classifiers, Linguistics, Culture, etc.) I'd be churning out interpreters capable of passing basic certification testing.

Sure, I can help provide you around 2,500 minutes worth of instructional content in the form of lessons similar to those at but that doesn't change the fact that HS teachers of ASL (including you -- if you become a HS teacher of ASL) will need to come up with 6,750 minutes worth of activities, interactive events, review sessions, and practice opportunities. Make that as many as 27,000 minutes worth if you plan on teaching ASL 1 - 4 at the high school level in an in-person format.

I share the above "math" with you not to discourage you but to point out that your first few years of teaching HS ASL will consist of spending your nights and summers developing a portfolio of activities (games, projects, videos, etc.) that work well for you as an individual and that you feel comfortable using and applying to your own classes.

I can help you with basic structure and content for the teaching of 2,250 minutes of content and suggesting a few games and activities but you will need / want to form a network of and relationships with High School ASL teachers who also deal with the increased time afforded to / required of high school teachers. Consider joining the Lifeprint-ASLU Facebook group and inquiring as to if there are any members who are currently teaching HS ASL and how they go about doing it.

Some reading for you:








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