Exploring the skills, qualifications and perspectives of American Sign Language teachers in Manitoba

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Goertzen, Deborah
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In Canada, American Sign Language (ASL) has become increasingly popular and, in fact, there has been some indication that the Canadian government is considering making ASL the country’s third official language. Each province has a separate education system, but in Manitoba, a provincial ASL curriculum has been developed and approved for public high schools. In order to offer the Grade 9-12 ASL courses, instructors are needed; however, most of those currently teaching ASL have not completed a Bachelor of Education degree, which is required to teach in public schools. The purpose of this research study was to describe the skills, experience, training and qualifications of individuals currently teaching ASL in Manitoba, and to identify skills/qualifications they feel are most important in training individuals to teach ASL. Information gathered from their responses to survey questions was used to make conclusions and recommendations aimed at establishing certification standards for ASL teachers. The results suggest ASL teachers are engaged in providing quality instruction and are interested in improving their level of knowledge to become even better teachers. A significant number of the teachers responding to this survey were qualified teachers, but had never taught in public high schools. This indicates a need to investigate the awareness on the part of school divisions that the Grade 9-12 ASL courses are available and their interest in, and commitment to, offering them in their schools.
ASL, Teacher, Education, Qualifications