Workshop/Course Description: 

Good Interpreters rely on more than just ASL fluency.  They know the history of ASL, its varieties across time and space, how it defines a culture, and how oppression has influenced the language and its users.  We are better interpreters because we respect ASL and we strive to be experts in all its facets.  Well what about… that other language?  Sure, we are fluent in English, but wouldn’t knowing the story of English — its usage and users, its history, is variety, its structure, its idiosyncrasies and its cultural relevance — also make us better interpreters?  Can we truly facilitate communication between two languages if we ever only study one of those languages?  This workshop answers questions that so often go unasked.

Educational Objectives


  • Classify English into four linguistic eras

  • Name six phenomena through which language changes

  • Compare inflected and uninfected languages

  • Differentiate among accents, dialects, and languages

  • Examine English and ASL idioms

  • Recognize four key English language challenges for interpreters

  • Identify 17 differences between English and ASL

  • Apply an understanding of the history of English to daily interpreting practices


To be provided by host:

  • Digital projector (compatible with an Apple laptop) and projection screen

  • White board, markers, and eraser

  • Stool (preferred)

To be provided by presenter:

  • Apple laptop and remote

  • Digital handout (to be emailed to participants after the workshop)

Evaluation & Assessment


The effectiveness of the presentation will be evaluated by the presenter’s ability to:

  • Clearly express the problem of not studying the English language as an interpreter

  • Challenge students to reexamine their understanding of both ASL and English

  • Give interpreters the resources to use and build on the workshop’s lessons

  • Guide discussion, create a comfortable and open environment, understand and appreciate interpreter’s concern, and tailor the instruction to the specific needs of each group of attendees