The major in ASL/English interpretation offers students the unique opportunity to acquire the skills and perspectives necessary to function successfully as linguistic and cultural mediators. The Program enables students to gain a mastery of American Sign Language and thus gain access to the community and culture of Deaf America, as well as gain insights into features of spoken languages that are often taken for granted. Not only does learning a modally different language give students a sense of the power of language, but it enables students to experience firsthand the principles underlying the spatial organization of discourse required by signed languages. This has a profound impact in understanding how language shapes one’s world.
Students in the ASL Program undertake a course of study that provides a firm foundation in language, linguistics, culture, and interpretation. In addition to their interpreting courses students also take a broad-based course of study in the College of Social Sciences and Humanities that provides a solid liberal arts education. While it is not required, many students opt to use their elective courses to pursue a minor in one of the many disciplines in the college. The combination of focused study in language, culture, and broad-based liberal arts education provides students with the cognitive framework and knowledge base needed to function successfully as interpreters.
Employment opportunities for interpreters have increased dramatically, and continue to do so, as a result of state and federal legislation. Graduates completing the interpreting major will be prepared to work as interpreters in a wide range of settings from social service agencies to educational settings. Graduates are also well prepared to take the written portion of the national certification examination for interpreters. In fact, students are encouraged to take this written
exam during the second half of their senior year in the Program.
Below is an example of a plan of study for ASL/English Interpreting and Combined majors. If you are a prospective student viewing these schedules, please keep in mind that your academic plan will be unique given AP/transfer credit, your ASL level placement, any minors you add, and if you decide to pursue a co-op. The plan of study below is one possible plan, but is by no means the only one. Your academic advisor will be able to help you figure out the most appropriate academic path for you.
To declare a combined major you must meet with Dennis Cokely, director of the ASL program.
The combined major in ASL studies and psychology offers students a unique opportunity to couple the study of aspects of cognitive psychology and the study of various linguistic and cultural aspects of the American Deaf Community. This combined major has evolved from students’ desire to explore further the ramifications of visually acquired and gesturally-produced languages as well as the profound implications for society as a whole of learning from a culture and a community whose experience of the world is visual, not auditory.
Through their study of American Sign Language students will not only gain access to the culture of Deaf Americans but also will acquire insights into various features of spoken languages that are often taken for granted. Not only does learning a modally-different language give students a sense of the power of language, but it also enables students to experience firsthand the principles underlying the spatial organization of discourse required by signed languages. This has a profound impact in understanding how language shapes one’s world. The scope and sequence of courses in psychology provide students with a foundation in the interdisciplinary science of psychology. In particular, students in this combined major will acquire special skills offered by the study of psycholinguistics, perception, cognition, and child language acquisition.
Graduates completing this unique combined major will be prepared to undertake pursuit of graduate studies in cognitive psychology or psycholinguistics. Others will choose to study clinical psychology, with particular emphasis on working with Deaf people. Still others will choose to pursue a career in Deaf education. Regardless of the specific career path chosen, this combined major offers students a unique combination of theoretical perspectives and practical skills that will enhance their options and their employability.
The ASL studies and theatre combined major offers students a unique opportunity to couple the study of aspects of theatrical production and the study of various linguistic and cultural aspects of the American Deaf Community. This combined major has evolved from students’ desire to couple their interests in American Sign Language and theatre in a manner which responds positively to the increased presence of sign language and sign language interpreters in theatrical productions.
Through their study of American Sign Language students not only will gain access to the culture of Deaf Americans but also will acquire insights into various features of spoken languages that are often taken for granted. Not only does learning a modally-different language give students a sense of the power of language, but it also enables students to experience firsthand the principles underlying the spatial organization of discourse required by signed languages. This has a profound impact in understanding how language shapes one’s world. In particular, students will acquire the foundation necessary to undertake translations of a wide array of theatrical works.
The scope and sequence of courses in theatre provides students with a thorough understanding of the various aspects of theatrical and staged productions (e.g. design, technical, acting, directing). This will better enable graduates to relate in a meaningful and informed way with responsible individuals at all levels of a theatrical production. This coursework will, for example, provide students with a thorough understanding of many of the nuances involved in lighting, set design and character blocking for such productions. Students will thus be better prepared to ensure appropriate levels of visual integration of sign language within theatrical productions.
Graduates completing this unique combined major will be prepared to work as access agents ensuring that theatrical companies are made aware of the visual needs of Deaf audiences. Graduates will also be able to work on translating theatrical pieces. These translated works can either be staged by Deaf actors/actresses or interpreted. Students will acquire the skills and sensitivity necessary to work with directors, actors, and interpreters.
Students who choose to pursue this combined major will find many employment opportunities working with individuals who are facing life transitions or social and emotional challenges. Specifically, students will be prepared to work in a variety of social service settings with an under-served segment of the population-individuals who are Deaf and who use the language of the Deaf Community, American Sign Language.
Increased national awareness of the Deaf Community and its language, coupled with the implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act has resulted in an increased demand for bilingually competent professionals in a wide range of human services. This combined major provides students with a solid theoretical and practical foundation in the human services field along with the linguistic skills and cultural sensitivities necessary to work directly with Deaf people in a range of public and private agencies.
Upon graduation from Northeastern students earning this combined major will find a number of employment opportunities created, in part, by the severe shortage of ASL/English interpreters. This shortage means that human service agencies are constantly seeking ways to comply with federal and state mandates to provide communication access to clients and employees. One way of complying with an agency’s legal obligations is to employ students who have the “value added” attraction of bilingual and bi-cultural competence. Such students will find themselves extremely marketable upon graduation.
This combined major also provides the academic foundation necessary for students to pursue graduate study in Deaf education, special education, social work, counseling, or public administration. Entering graduate programs in any of these areas, students will find their graduate experience academically, linguistically, and culturally enriched by the foundation established in this combined major.
CLTR 1120 – Introduction to Languages, Literatures, & Cultures
AMSL 1101 – Elementary American Sign Language 1
AMSL 1202 – Elementary American Sign Language 2
AMSL 2101 – Intermediate American Sign Language 1
AMSL 2102 – Intermediate American Sign Language 2
DEAF 1500 – Deaf People in Society
One Approved Elective:
AMSL 3101 – Advanced American Sign Language 1
AMSL 3102 – Advanced American Sign Language 2
AMSL 3800 – Specialized Instruction in American Sign Language
AMSL 4800 – Specialized Instruction in American Sign Language
AMSL 4992 – Directed Study
AMSL 4993 – Independent Study
DEAF 2500 – Deaf History and Culture
DEAF 2700 – ASL Linguistics