Exploring the benefits of a separate course in ASL fingerspelling and numbering to develop students’ receptive competency

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Broszeit, Cheryl
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In Canada, the field of study related to teaching American Sign Language fingerspelling and numbering is very new. This study focused its examination on the potential educational benefits when incorporating fingerspelling and numbering within an ASL course as opposed to the potential educational benefits when creating a separate fingerspelling and numbering course for second language learners. The study was conducted by administering surveys, pre-tests, and post-tests with students from two Canadian Deaf Studies Programs, as well as interviewing instructors. The participants’ receptive skill acquisition and complex rule comprehension of fingerspelling and numbering was examined in both instances (with and without a separate course) but no distinct differences were found. Data analysis of instructor responses indicated a strong inclination for advanced studies of fingerspelling and numbering for students who continue on to higher levels of education, specifically in American Sign Language-English Interpretation Programs. Additional research is needed, as this study was limited due to the small number of participants. In general, the results of the study confirm that fingerspelling and numbering are challenging practices for second language learners of ASL and that more curricular materials, focused on teaching these skills in natural conversational contexts, are needed.
ASL, Fingerspelling, Deaf Studies program, Interpreter