Course Description

ASL students
This course introduces the fundamentals of American Sign Language (ASL) used by the Deaf Community, including: basic vocabulary, syntax, finger spelling, and grammatical non-manual signals. Students will focus on communicative competence.  Students will develop gestural skills as a foundation for ASL enhancement. This course also introduces cultural knowledge and increases understanding of the Deaf Community.

This course will enable you to:

  • Develop readiness skills both expressively and receptively for learning ASL through nonverbal     communication, visual exercises, body language, and facial expressions.
  • Develop basic conversational vocabulary and grammatical structures of ASL.
  • Develop an understanding of American Deaf Culture.

For complete information review the syllabus.

Focused Learning Outcomes

  • Student will demonstrate receptive mastery of targeted, context-specific commands, questions, and statements in ASL.
  • Students will demonstrate expressive mastery of targeted, context-specific commands, questions, and statements in ASL.
  • Given a set of targeted vocabulary items drawn from class activities, the student will demonstrate receptive and expressive mastery of these vocabulary items.
  • Students will demonstrate receptive and expressive mastery of targeted conversation-facilitating behaviors (again, slow, what etc.) and conversation regulating behaviors (attention getting devices, turn-taking signals.  Students will demonstrate mastery of these behaviors throughout dialogues, made-up conversations, and interactions with the Deaf instructor and interviewing three Deaf adults.
  • Students will be exposed to short narratives, stories, etc. in ASL that are told by the teacher and by Deaf users of ASL.
  • Student will demonstrate the ability to initiate, conduct, and terminate a short context-specific conversation with Deaf users of ASL other than the instructor.
  • After viewing an internet site, students will write a paper regarding one of the famous Deaf adults found on that site.
  • Students will know “the history of ASL, the Deaf community, ASL and its relation to other forms of signing of the diglossic continuum.

Course Cost


Does not include the cost of the required text.

Text Book Requirement

Master ASL! Level One by Jason E. Zinza  ISBN:978-1-881133-20-9  (Students must have the DVD with Video)

Your Instructor

Cathy Copeland is the lead educational interpreter for MSU Billings and teaches interpreter training courses for MSUB and William Woods University. She has over 30 years of experience teaching American Sign Language. She has served as a mentor for the Distance Opportunity Interpreter Training Center and as a Community interpreter for numerous agencies, doctors and lawyers.

Cathy has over 20 years of experience mentoring interpreters in both Montana and Wyoming.  She has served as the president of Montana Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf for 6 terms. Cathy has a Master’s degree, Master Mentor Certification, ASL Linguistics Certificate and Educational Interpreting Certificate.

Special Note for MSUB Students

This course will be offered through Extended Campus as a self-support course.  As such tuition for this course is due on top of regular tuition. No waivers or other forms of financial aid are available.

Contact Information

To find out more about this and other training programs, please call:

MSU Billings Extended Campus