Student Guide to ASL Tutoring

ASL Tutor Schedule (pdf)
Benefits of Tutoring
What Can I Do With a Tutor?
What is the Tutor's Role?
Preparing for Your Appointment
How to Receive Feedback
How to Sign Up for a Tutoring Appointment
Tutoring Plan (pdf)
Tutoring at RIT


The ASLIE department offers ASL tutoring provided by deaf native users of ASL. Tutoring is not only for students who are having difficulty in their classes--it's for all interpreting students!

Benefits of Tutoring

  • provides additional models of deaf native signing
  • provides additional opportunities to practice conversing in ASL
  • provides additional opportunities to practice skills you are learning in class
  • increases self-confidence in your ability to achieve ASL skills

What Can I Do With a Tutor?

  • You can meet with a tutor to practice expressive ASL skills. Converse with the tutor in ASL and ask the tutor for feedback.
  • You can show the tutor sentences you have created or found in a book or newspaper. Show the tutor how you think it should be signed and ask for his or her feedback.
  • You can meet with a tutor to practice receptive sign skills. Chat with the tutor about RIT life, Deaf culture, sports, travel, family life, or another topic that interests you. This is a great way to improve your comprehension skills and learn some new signs while gaining experience interacting with Deaf people.
  • You can meet with a tutor to receive feedback on your homework. The tutor will ask you what you know about the topic and how you would sign the concept you are trying to express. After you sign the concept, the tutor will give you feedback.

What is the Tutor's Role?

To understand the tutor's role it is helpful to think of an athletic coach. A coach stands on the sidelines, observes what is taking place, and determines what is needed to solve problems that arise. The coach does not go onto the field to play (does not do the student's work) but will guide and enthusiastically praise a job well done. This is the role of the tutor.

ASL tutors explain, clarify, and exemplify the ASL skills that you are working to develop. They create positive learning experiences that support your learning by helping you to help yourself.

Tutors will not do your homework for you or tell you how to sign something. Instead, they will help you explore options for signing what you are trying to express. Tutors will ask questions to find out what you already know and will assist you in making connections between new material and what you already know.

Tutors are not there to judge you or criticize your work. They are there to support you, encourage you, and help you gain confidence in your ability to develop ASL skills. They strive to help you think things through and to identify your strengths and skills you’d like to improve.

Preparing for Your Appointment

Tutors are not a substitute for your course instructor. In order for you to benefit from tutoring, make sure you attend class and attempt to do the homework assignments.

It’s important to understand that our tutors will not give you “the answer,” but will help you think through how to discover for yourself how to sign what you’re trying to express. That’s why you should come to your tutoring session having already prepared how you would sign the concept and then ask the tutor for feedback on what you've done thus far. Be prepared to talk about whole sentences, not just individual words/signs.

Bring a script or homework assignment sheet so the tutor will understand the assignment and the stimulus materials you are working from. A tutor will not be able to give an accurate assessment of your interpretation if s/he does not know the original message or what your instructor is looking for.

Expect the tutor to ask you clarifying questions, to find out what you know and what you don't know. That way the tutor can get to know you and determine what strategies would be most helpful. The tutor will expect you to work and to participate in the tutoring process. Do not expect the tutor to do the work for you. Always bring your textbook, assignment sheet, class notes, and syllabus.

Be an active participant in your tutoring session. Tell the tutor what you’re thinking, what you’ve learned thus far, and what feedback you’d like to receive. If you’re there to practice conversing in ASL, ask the tutor an open-ended question about a topic you’re interested in and enjoy the conversation!

Ask the tutor for feedback on a specific feature of ASL that you’d like to work on. Tutors can help you with many features of ASL that are important for clearly communicating your message. Sign choice is only one small part of conversing in ASL; you may also want to ask for help with:

  • ASL Grammar
  • Classifiers
  • Eye Gaze
  • Facial Expression
  • Fingerspelling
  • Narrative Structure
  • Non-Manual Signals
  • Receptive Skills
  • Sign Production
  • Use Of Space

Just as not every English speaker talks in the same way, you will notice that not every Deaf person signs things in the same way. Their use of ASL is influenced by the school they attended, their family communication dynamics, and where they are from. If you receive conflicting feedback from tutors, discuss this with your course instructor so that you can obtain their professional perspective.

How to Receive Constructive Feedback

  • Listen to the feedback (rather than preparing your response/defense).
  • Ask the person to repeat it if you did not clearly understand the feedback.
  • Assume the feedback is constructive until proven otherwise; then consider and use those elements that are constructive.
  • Pause and think before responding.
  • Ask the person to clarify and give examples if her/his statement is not clear or is unsupported.
  • Accept the feedback positively (for consideration) rather than dismissively (for self-protection).
  • Ask for suggestions of ways you might modify or change your work.
  • Respect and thank the person giving feedback.

How To Sign Up for an Appointment

The tutoring schedule and sign-up sheets are posted on the bulletin board outside the Self Instruction Lab. Sign-up sheets are posted for two weeks at a time. The sign-up sheet for each tutor indicates the location for each tutoring block.

Because there are so many students using our tutoring services, we ask that you sign up for no more than one 30-minute time slot. Write your name and email address (one that you check frequently!) in pencil in the time slot you would like. If you’d like the tutor to work with you in a small group, write the names of a maximum of four students (including you) in the time slot.

If no one has signed up for the time slot after you, you may stay longer, but you may not sign up in advance for more than one slot.

To cancel your tutoring session, erase your name from the sheet. If you have an emergency and are unable to erase your name, please call the Self Instruction Lab at 475-6336 before the appointment starts to cancel your appointment. In the rare event that the tutor needs to reschedule your appointment, we will contact you via the email address you provided.

Tutors who have empty slots on the sign-up sheets are available for walk-in appointments.

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Phone: 585-475-6400 Last updated on Apr 18, 2014



Here's your opportunity to chat with our ASLIE Chairperson, Dr. Kim Kurz. The spring semester Meet & Greet with Dr. Kurz will be on April 16, 2014. Come have some pizza and get to know our Chairperson better!