was established in April, 2008. Our first class as ASL Academy was in Boston – an on-site class for a company. Our first class held in our area was in the spring of 2009, at the former Gibbs College. The space was donated to help us get established and we held classes there for the spring and summer semesters. By that time, we had rented our office and Student Center space in Pawtucket with two classrooms. In January, we added two more classrooms in an adjacent building.
On July 1, 2013, we moved to our new location at 255 Main St in Pawtucket, R.I. This new space allows us to be together in one building and have our classrooms, lending library, language lab, office and ASL Cafe accessible to all of our students and staff.
In the fall of 2015, we established our Providence program, working with RI School for the Deaf.
In the spring of 2016, we opened classes in Warwick at 2845 Post Road.
I am Manuel Martin, the owner and program director. The company is new, but the ideas for it were developed over a period of many years. The curriculum had its beginnings in 1994, when I started to teach elementary grade classes in Worcester, MA. and there were no effective teaching materials I could find. I eventually was teaching 15 to 20 classes a week, from kindergarten to adults. In 2001, I started teaching college classes. By 2006, I was teaching preschool to University levels, from beginner to full fluency.
From this experience, along with studying second language acquisition, brain function in processing language, exploring visual-spatial perception by left and right-handed persons, analysis to break signs down into their tiniest components, and other related areas, the present curriculum was developed. It has been used for a number of years with great success. I continue to make improvements as I edit and update it.
Our program consists of six phases:
1) Levels 1 – 4 The focus here is on clear, smooth sign production and an understanding of syntax and grammar.
2) Levels 5 – 9 The emphasis is on using ASL in three dimensions – building a knowledge of how to represent multiple characters or objects in space.
3) Levels 10 – 15 Advanced vocabulary building with the remaining features of the language to develop an understanding of all the ways to use modulation and nuance.
4) Levels 16 – 20 Receptive skill building focused on conversational style signing and one-handed signing used by advanced signers. Our extensive video library is used to complement classroom presentations.
5) Levels 21 – 24 are conducted with voice. All four levels are a contrastive analysis of ASL and English. All of these levels use our video library and help students with expressive and receptive skills. Students establish individual goals in collaboration with the teacher. They receive specific feedback on their work.
6) Deaf Studies and Language Lab. Students can take these courses at any time during their enrollment. Here, they learn about the cultural and historical influences on the language. Assignments are given using our library materials as students are guided in their study.
Additionally, we have Immersions:
* One-day ASL Immersions –
Feb, April, July, Aug and Oct.
* Half-day Mini-Mersions –
April, May and June.
* In the summer, we have three-day Immersions which involve two all-day field trips as students practice their ASL skills in a real-world setting.
(See the page “Immersions”)
We have new classes offered throughout the year. Level 1 classes evening classes are offered about 6 times a year and Saturday level 1 classes are offered about 4 times a year. In the summer, we also offer Summer Institutes. In 2015, we have added our Deaf Studies Program, Language Lab and ASL Scholars Program. Click on those pages for information.
Away from our school, we conduct classes in public and private schools, Early Learning Centers and kindergartens, and for families,companies and agencies.
ASL for toddlers through Elementary Age students:
The ASLA curriculum for these young students is called “See it, Say it, Sign it, Spell it, Write it.” Students gradually develop their skills until they can master all of these five areas. This not only teaches ASL effectively, but reinforces classroom concepts as students use their bodies and space to become fully involved in the language learning process. Fingerspelling and numbers practice help develop letter recognition and a kinesthetic experience with numbers.
High school students can follow our regular evening or Saturdays classes or they have the option of joining our:
ASL Scholars Program. This is in the summer for two weeks. The information from our regular curriculum, levels 1 – 3 is covered. Students do additional work and reading on the language and culture of the Deaf community. They are given assessments on all of their work.