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How Long Does It Take To Learn Sign Language

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How Much Time Does It Take To Learn American Sign Language

How long does it take to learn ASL? | What you should know about interpreting and certifications


You shoot your friend a thumbs-up to let her know she did a great job. You hold up two fingers at a noisy bar to signal to the bartender how many drinks to bring. You clap at the end of performances to show your appreciation, you raise your hand when youre ready to ask a question, and you may even cross your fingers for a bit of extra luck.

You already use your hands for communication in so many ways. That means that learning sign language, while it has its challenges, is not as difficult or as different from other languages as it might seem.

Like spoken languages, it will take a bit of time to learn sign language. The question is, how much? For this article, well be focusing on American Sign Language .

First, lets debunk a few myths.

Best Budget: American Sign Language University

American Sign Language University

Lauded by instructors, students, and families, American Sign Language University is a completely free ASL resource for teachers and learners. The service, created by Dr. Bill Vicars, a deaf person and an associate professor of American Sign Language and Deaf Studies at California State University in Sacramento, has been teaching ASL for 20 years.

In 1997, Dr. Vicars launched ASLU as a resource for rural families without access to sign language classes. Since then, ASLU has been used to supplement sign language learning and to fulfill academic language requirements. Additionally, teachers are able to download entire lessons and activities, free of charge, to boost classroom learning.

Though Dr. Vicars ASLU provides instructor-guided ASL courses for around $483 each, all of the self-guided resources are available completely free, making ASLU the best budget option for online ASL courses.

The lessons, listed in chronological order at the top of the sites main page, include an instructional video, a vocabulary list, practice assignments, recommended reading, and lessons in Deaf culture. Dr. Vicars First 100 Signs video is an excellent place to start for communication between parents and children.

Who Needs To Take Sign Language Classes

Learn sign language is the primary method of communication for Deaf and hard of hearing people. Many people want to learn sign language as they have Deaf or hard of hearing people in their family and friends. Moreover, if youre interested in being a sign language interpreter, our language training is a great place to start your learning journey.

Similarly, sign language is also becoming more popular among many parents of toddlers and infants who are still developing their ability to speak. Besides, certain professions such as police officers, scuba divers, etc., use sign langue as a discreet communication tool.

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Practice On Video Chat Apps:

You can take advantage of video text messaging apps to chat easily with other friends who use or learn sing language to practice. You will find various phone apps with different features to connect remotely with other learners to share your learning experience. Moreover, you can also make a schedule and practice sign language regularly with a pattern.

References: Baby Sign Language

How Long Does It Take To Learn Sign Language

Acredolo, LP and Goodwyn SW. 1988. Symbolic gesturing in normal infants. Child Development 59: 450-466.

Acredolo L and Goodwyn S. 1998. Baby Signs. Chicago: Contemporary Books.

Anderson D and Reilly J. 2002. The MacArthur Communicative Development Inventory: Normative data for American Sign Language. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education 7: 83106

Bonvillian JD, Orlansky MD, Novack LL. 1983. Developmental milestones: sign language acquisition and motor development. Child Dev. 54:1435-45.

Cartmill EA, Armstrong BF 3rd, Gleitman LR, Goldin-Meadow S, Medina TN, Trueswell JC. 2013. Quality of early parent input predicts child vocabulary 3 years later. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 110:11278-83.

Crais E, Douglas DD, and Campbell CC. 2004. The intersection of the development of gestures and intentionality. J Speech Lang Hear Res. 47:678-94.

Fenson L, Dale PS, Reznick JS, Bates E, Thal DJ, Pethick SJ. 1994. Variability in early communicative development. Monogr Soc Res Child Dev. 59:1-173.

Fitzpatrick EM, Thibert J, Grandpierre V, and Johnston JC. 2014. How handy are baby signs? A systematic review of the impact of gestural communication on typically developing, hearing infants under the age of 36 months. First Language. 34 : 486509.

Goodwyn SW, Acredolo LP, and Brown C. 2000. Impact of symbolic gesturing on early language development. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior. 24: 81-103.

Oller DK. 2000. The emergence of the speech capacity. Lawrence Erlbaum.

Content last modified 1/2019

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How Hard Is It To Learn Sign Language

How long does it take to learn sign language? To get an accurate answer to this previous question, it is better to know how hard it is to learn sign language? Lets learn more about this below. Sign language is a visual language made up of hand and body movements. Likewise, it is quickly growing in popularity among English speakers.

There are many benefits to learning sign language, and becoming a part of the diverse Deaf culture is worth mentioning. To become a master in any new vocabulary and difficulty largely depends on the students learning style and type of lessons. However, learning a sign language isnt any more difficult than learning a new spoken language for a motivated and committed student.

Keep in mind that essential, beginner classes are more comfortable than intermediate to advanced ASL classes. So, the higher-level courses will have more challenges, and a learner needs to invest more time, effort and practice harder. Intermediate students face some challenges like the grammar and sentence structure of ASL.

What Does Holding Your Chin Mean

Holding in the chin protects both it and the throat, and hence is a naturally defensive move that people use when they feel threatened. Holding the chin in also lowers the head, which is a submissive gesture. This is distinct from the defensive move as the head tilts down more and the eyes are often largely downcast.

Also Check: What Is Poop In Sign Language

Best For Vocabulary: Asldeafined

With a continuously expanding video dictionary of more than 15,000 words, ASLDeafined is an expansive, self-guided way to learn ASL vocabulary.

Before beginning lessons, ASLDeafined users must self-identify as a deaf learner, a parent of a deaf or hard-of-hearing child, or a member of the general public. Within these groups, lessons and vocabulary are divided into categories to improve retention. Each user has a progress chart that details the changes in learning and retention, a particularly useful tool for parents using ASLDeafined for children.

The program also offers more than 300 themed lessons and activities designed to improve memorization, as well as ways to save notable or difficult words or signs for future study.

ASLDeafined is available online and through the companys app and offers a renewable, three-day free trial. An annual subscription is approximately $36, while the price is only $12 for educators. Subscriptions can be canceled at any point, and access will continue through the end of the subscription period.

How Long Does It Take To Learn Sign Language Fluently

How Long Does it Take to Learn Sign Language?

Learning ASL is not easier than learning spoken French or any other spoken language. It takes at least six 3-credit ASL courses over the span of 2-3 years to attain a beginning-intermediate skill. To attain an intermediate-fluent skill, it takes another 2 years in the ASL/English interpretation training.

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Learn Asl At Udemy And Skillshare

Do you want to learn ASL, but is $300 per course a little beyond your budget? If so, there are cheaper alternatives to courses at Gallaudet University available from places Udemy and Skillshare. Many of these start at just $50. However, it is important to remember that not all courses are created equal.

If you do hope to use ASL to get noticed by employers, a certificate from Gallaudet University will help you do this. By comparison, a certificate from Udemy probably wont. This being the case, if you do want to learn ASL, make sure to weigh the pros and cons of different courses carefully.

Check out Languagers Website for more resources.

Do Baby Signing Programs Boost Long

Overall, the evidence is lacking.

The very first studies hinted that baby sign language training could be at least somewhat advantageous, but only for a brief time period .

In these studies, Linda Acredolo and Susan Goodwyn instructed parents to use baby signs with their infants. Then the researchers tracked the children across 6 time points, up to the age of 36 months.

When the childrens language skills were tested at each time point, the researchers found that babies taught signs were sometimes a bit more advanced than babies in a control group.

For instance, the signing children seemed to possess larger receptive vocabularies. They recognized more words.

But the effect was weak, and detected only for a couple of time points during the middle of the study.

For the last two time points, when babies were 30 months and 36 months old, there were no statistically significant differences between groups .

In other words, there was no evidence that babies benefited in a lasting way.

And more recent studies using stringent controls have also failed to find any long-term vocabulary advantage for babies taught to sign .

For example, Elizabeth Kirk and her colleagues randomly assigned 20 mothers to supplement their speech with symbolic gestures of baby sign language.

The babies were tracked from 8 months to 20 months of age, and showed no linguistic benefits compared to babies in a control group.

And IQ?

Also Check: How To Say What Are You Doing In Sign Language

Plan Weekly Coffee Dates:

You can plan weekly coffee dates with someone fluent in sign language or a professional Sign Language Interpreter. You may tell them how your week went and other topics in common to practice sign conversation. If you are facing difficulties finding a language partner near you can use Deaf Chat Coffee.

The 8 Best Online Sign Language Classes Of 2021

How long does it take to learn sign language?

Founded in 1864, Gallaudet University is a federally chartered and fully accredited liberal arts college that specializes in the language and culture of deaf people. While both hearing and deaf students are admitted into the school, it remains the only higher education institution that structures its curriculum to accommodate deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

Not only does Gallaudet offer free ASL basics courses, but the university also has a variety of paid ASL courses for adult learners, including ASL levels 1 through 4, Fingerspelling, and Visual Gestural Communication, all taught by ASL professionals and structured to improve comprehension and communication.

Beyond language learning, the university offers several bilingual deaf studies courses, a catalog that includes Introduction to Deaf Studies, Black Deaf People Studies, Deaf Womens Studies, and more.

Beginner lessons through Gallaudet are free of charge and are intended to prepare students for the more advanced, paid ASL courses. Fingerspelling courses are around $317, and ASL courses on special topics are about $950.

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How To Learn A Language Through Immersion

One of the best ways to learn a foreign language is to go to a foreign country. Moving to a country where you dont speak the language is definitely a daunting task, but can be extremely effective in mastering a new language.

Learning a language abroad is easier than learning in a classroom because of the constant immersion. Instead of hearing it for one hour every day, you hear the language spoken in shops, at restaurants, on the streets, and by your new friends.

Hearing and speaking a language in context makes it much easier to cement vocabulary and word meanings in your memory. For example, discussing shoe types and prices in a shoe store in Spain will help you remember the specific words for boots and sandals much better than just seeing them in a picture or on a flashcard at home.

Foreign language immersion also helps with learning the correct accent and colloquial and cultural terms. When learning Spanish in a classroom, we often study only the most formal or commonly used terms. In practical use, though, there are often completely different phrases that are regularly used and will make point much better. The best way to pick these up is through immersion and discussions with native speakers.

Study A Sign Language Dictionary Regularly:

You can regularly study a sign language dictionary to expand your vocabulary when youre confused about how to sign something. ASL dictionary is the perfect companion with a video illustration of over 5000 words and phrases.

Moreover, add an ASL keyboard like Signily to your iPhone or Android for better practice every day. As a result, you will enjoy switch back and forth to your usual keyboard if you forget a letter and learn sign language faster.

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A Few More Tips To Learn Sign Language

Once youve found your preferred language learning method, you need to be aware of a few things to successfully use sign language.

  • Facial expressions are key: Deaf people use facial expressions to determine the mood of the conversation or topic. It also brings more character to the sign language. Dont be afraid to be expressive, as the teacher or video learner will show you.
  • Utilize real-life situations: Real-life exchanges with other people who know sign language will help you learn more quickly! Join social groups to help you practice.
  • Youll need qualifications to be professional: If you want to be an interpreter, youll need further qualifications. Talk to your professors or community deaf groups for more information.
  • Practice your fingerspelling! Fingerspelling is quite simple, and an easy way to communicate with deaf people without memorizing all the word phrases. Even a little bit of sign language will be beneficial when communicating with deaf people!

Now that youve got a basis on how to learn sign language, I hope you can find local or online resources to do so! Remember to have fun while learning, and communicate with other sign language users. You will be well on your way to make new friends, communicate with others and grow your own language comprehension!

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How We Chose The Best Online Sign Language Classes


We looked at dozens of online sign language classes before deciding on the top eight. We chose these as our best online sign language classes based on student reviews, pricing, accreditation organizations, and categories that they specialize in. We also considered learning styles and how progress is tracked.

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Learn Asl Online At Gallaudet University

Gallaudet University is Americas leading university for deaf students and professional ASL instructors. At present, Gallaudet University also offers four different online ASL courses, each costing just $300.

  • After enrolling at Gallaudet University, you will receive a university-grade sign language education from the most respected deaf university in the United States.
  • Gallaudet Universitys four courses take you from being an ASL beginner with no sign language experience, to someone who can create and carry complex narratives and dialogue.
  • Video instruction in each Gallaudet University ASL course, allows you to learn by interacting with other ASL speakers, just like you might in real life.

How Long Does It Take To Learn Sign Language Overview

  • Post comments:

How long does it take to learn sing language? Its crucial to ask this question before jumping into starting your journey of learning sign language. In general, everyone has a different learning style and pace. Likewise, there is also no exception in the case of learning sign language. So, it may take a shorter time to learn sign language than other learners. Right?

What will I learn?

  • 4 Summary:
  • Here weve discussed the required time to learn sign language, its difficulty level, the best way to learn it, who needs this. Similarly, weve also discussed where you can take classes, baby sign language, its benefits, and top 10 tips to speed up your learning process. Check out this post to get a detailed overview to learn sign language or American Sign Language in the following sections.

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    Take A Sign Language Class

    If youre ever considering learning sign language, this is one of the best ways to do it! Often community centers, community colleges or other educational centers offer day or evening classes. Qualified sign language tutors can help you work toward sign language qualifications. Classes are also a great way to meet new people and see the signs face-to-face.

    There are also online classes. Some of my HearingLikeMe writers have taken classes with ASL For You and have learned a lot through weekly Zoom classes.

    Being in a class gives the opportunity to practice signing with different people. It is considered a good investment if the qualification leads to a job!

    If youre interested, research for classes in your local area or contact your local education authority.

    Best For Beginners: Asl Meredith

    How Long Does It Take To Learn Sign Language

    ASL Meredith

    For a complete ASL beginner, ASL Meredith is an online, self-paced course designed to teach the foundations of grammar, vocabulary, and conversation.

    The creator of the beginner course, Meredith, is a certified ASL instructor with a Masters degree in Teaching ASL as a Foreign Language. Meredith, a hearing person, learned sign language from a childhood friend at an early age. She now teaches lessons in-person, through her online portal, and on YouTube and Instagram.

    ASL Merediths Foundations of ASL course was created to assist potential learners who didnt have financial or physical access to sign language courses. It consists of six modules, complete with video instruction, practice assignments, and quizzes designed to guide students through conversation and comprehension with increasing complexity.

    The estimated completion time for the course is six weeks, but as it is self-guided, learners can take as little or as much time as they need. The beginner class costs around $179 and includes lifetime access, but ASL Meredith offers a payment plan of about $49 per month to be made over the course of four months.

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