Document Type


Date of Degree

Fall 2013

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Graham, Laura

First Committee Member

Ryang, Sonia

Second Committee Member

Baynton, Douglas

Third Committee Member

Monaghan, Leila

Fourth Committee Member

Chibnik, Michael


This dissertation examines the connection between language ideologies and second language learning, specifically in the case of American Sign Language.

I argue that students' and teachers' ideologies about American Sign Language (ASL) influence the goals and pedagogies of ASL teachers. ASL students enter the classroom with ideologies that conflate ASL with gesture or view it as simplified visual English. ASL students also view deafness as a disability that needs to be fixed.

This contrasts with ASL teachers' view that Deaf people are a distinct cultural minority who wish to remain Deaf. As a result, ASL teachers' goals focus on teaching ASL students to respect Deaf people and their language.

This leads to three major pedagogical differences with teachers of spoken languages.

First, ASL teachers focus their cultural lessons on teaching their students a non-pathological view of Deafness.

Second, ASL teachers are far more likely than spoken language teachers to think that a member of Deaf Culture should teach ASL.

Finally, ASL teachers go to greater lengths than spoken language teachers to avoid the use of English in their classrooms.

This research was conducted at five different public universities in the United States. I observed ASL classes at all five universities and a Spanish class at one university. I administered a survey at four of the five universities. I interviewed ASL teachers and teachers of other languages at all five universities.


American Sign Language, Deaf, Disability, Language Ideology, Second Language Acquisition


xii, 230 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 216-230).


Copyright 2013 Cindee J Calton

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