During these unprecedented times, it can be difficult to find safe and effective online solutions for our students for certain subjects like language, music, and physical education. Mr. D Math, a well-known math curriculum company, now offers self-paced, online classes like ASL, flamenco guitar, and running. If you have a student who wants to learn American Sign Language at home, read our experience with ASL 2 from Mr. D Math!
American Sign Language is now the third-most popular language in the United States (other than English). Thanks to YouTube, TikTok, and other social media, ASL’s popularity with the next generation will undoubtedly continue to grow over the next few years.
Not only is ASL used by the Deaf community in the United States, it is taught to babies and hearing children in classrooms around the world. (When I was an elementary school teacher, my students used fingerspelling to practice their spelling words every week.)
Mr. D Math’s self-paced ASL program is perfect for students who want to learn American Sign Language for their high school language credits or pursue a career in interpreting. (They also offer an elementary class for younger children.)
Each upper-level course — American Sign Language 1, 2, and 3 — is designed for a full year of learning at home. Classes have been pre-recorded so students can work through them at their own pace, with regular assignments and monthly help sessions for support and feedback.
Our family has had lots of exposure to ASL vocabulary over the past decade. Both of our children had speech delays, and our speech therapist recommended using signs to bridge the communication gap. Both girls were fascinated with sign language throughout their preschool years. “How do I sign…” became a constantly-used phrase in our home.
Even now, we still regularly use signs like please, thank you, sorry, I love you, pay attention, wait, and bathroom. The girls and I use the fingerspelling alphabet often — it especially helps my tactile learner remember her spelling words!
I’ve known they might want to take ASL courses for their language credits in the next few years, but I wasn’t sure how we would make that work in our small town.
Our local high school doesn’t offer ASL and neither does the community college 45 minutes away. The ideal situation would be for them to learn American Sign Language at home with a qualified instructor. Thankfully, Mr. D Math’s self-paced ASL program looks like a great fit!
Check out these benefits:
There are 32 lessons in the ASL 2 course, which would work well for a full year of study. After each lesson, there is a short student assignment to demonstrate understanding. There are also two tests — a midterm and a final — as well as a few written essays.
In lesson 2, students are asked to create a private YouTube channel to share their lesson videos with the instructor for feedback.
Engaging, Approachable Instructor
The teacher, Ms. Thia, is kind and knowledgeable. Her course videos are short, but packed full of valuable information. Students can watch (and rewatch) the lessons on-demand — and because they are stored on YouTube, the playback speed can be slowed down for thorough understanding.
In the ASL 2 course, Ms. Thia includes several review videos from ASL 1 to refresh and remind students of vocabulary and concepts already learned.
Ms. Thia is hearing and uses her voice in the lessons. She received her Bachelor’s degree as an interpreter from Galludet University before becoming an ASL instructor.
Monthly Help Sessions
Although the course is self-paced, students can attend monthly calls with Ms. Thia for support and feedback. It’s also an opportunity to meet with other students taking the course.
These sessions are a real benefit for teens who learn better in a group setting, but might not have access to in-person classes or Deaf events in their community.
Emphasis on Deaf Culture, Including Storytelling
The Deaf community has a wonderful and rich culture that should be learned and appreciated by ASL students of all ages. The last few lessons in the ASL 2 course focus on Deaf storytelling, which is a little different than English storytelling. Students are exposed to a variety of Deaf storytellers (via online videos) and asked to tell their own version of a story well-known to them.
Additional course topics on Deaf culture in ASL 2 include lip-reading and cochlear implants.