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How To Teach Yourself American Sign Language

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How to Start Teaching Yourself ASL | American Sign Language

The Benefits of Learning ASL

There are dozens of benefits of learning ASL, from professional to social. Here are just a few of the reasons why its a great idea to learn sign language online.

Professional benefits
  • Knowing a second language is an added bonus on any resume and will further qualify you for customer service roles.
  • Take advantage of the exciting career opportunities that are available for those fluent in sign language, such as concert interpreters and speech pathologists.
Physical and mental benefits
  • Increase your brain power! Learning any language, including ASL, has been found to enhance cognitive processes such as problem solving and memorization.
  • Using signs helps young children develop fine motor skills and muscle memory more quickly.
Social benefits
  • Gain a better understanding of the rich and diverse Deaf culture, which includes art, music, and poetry.
  • Open the door to countless opportunities for new friendships within the Deaf community. If you like making friends and crossing cultural barriers, American Sign Language classes are an excellent choice!
  • Speaking sign language makes many recreational activities much more fun. You can use sign language while on a nature walk to avoid disturbing the wildlife, or while camping to have long distance conversations using binoculars.

Tips for Practicing ASL

Take An American Sign Language Course

Learn the basics of ASL with Gale Courses’Discover Sign Language course. You can access this free instructor-led course with your library card. Discover Sign Language covers basic ASL signs and grammar. The course is divided into 12 themed sections that are paced for beginners. Students who complete the introductory course can continue learning with Discover Sign Language II.

These courses have start dates every month. Upcoming sessions begin on June 17, July 15 and August 12, 2020. Typically, sessions start in the second or third week of each month. Why not sign up right now?

Need more information on Gale Courses? Check out our Getting Started with Gale Courses guide.

How To Learn Asl Quickly

The easiest way to learn ASL quickly is to take classes where you will receive formal instruction from real ASL users. However, in the current Covid-19 era, this is easier said than done. Thankfully, though, there is some good news.

At present, several reputable online courses make it easy to learn basic and even more advanced level ASL.

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Make Mistakes Be Childlike Dont Worry About Perfection

One reason why children generally learn faster than adults is that they are not afraid to make mistakes. Making mistakes is one of the most important parts of the learning process. Still, most of us adults are self-conscious and feel like they should not make mistakes. Dont be afraid to make mistakes. Act more childlike and learn faster. Nobody will judge you.;

At What Age Can A Child Learn Sign Language

Teach Yourself American Sign Language

A child can be taught American Sign Language as early as two years old . Its not difficult to teach a toddler ASL, especially if you do it on a daily basis with fun ASL activities, games, songs and stories.

Hearing parents are sometimes apprehensive about teaching their children sign language, thinking it might be too difficult for them to learn or that they might confuse American Sign Language with gestures and signs they already use such as bye-bye or please while speaking English.

A lot of hearing parents think their kids are too young to pick up sign language and they should wait until the children are older, but even babies can learn ASL words to help them communicate.

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Learn American Sign Language Lets Practice

Time to learn the most common phrases and words and the ways they are signed.

Yes To give a positive answer, raise the fist of your hand and bend it up and down at the wrist. It should remind you of a head-nodding yes.

No For a negative answer, raise your hand and then join the thumb, the index finger and the middle finger together. To give it more emphasis you can also shake your head with this motion.

Thank you To say a thank you, simply take your flat hand near your lips and move it forward and then towards the person you are thanking.

Hello To salute someone, you will need to keep your fingers close, move your hand up, your thumb across your forehead, and then extend your hand away from your body. Dont forget to smile

Goodbye Most probably you already use this gesture. Simply open your palm, then fold your fingers and open them again.

My name is You should spell the words one by one. For my, place your hand on your chest. For name, put your index and middle fingers of your dominant hand together, keeping the index finger on top. Do the same with your other hand. Now place the fingers of your dominant hand on top of your other hand and tap twice lightly. Afterward, fingerspell your name .

Sorry Put your fist on your chest and rub it in a circular motion. The sign can also be used to express regret and apology.

Help Make a fist with your hand, keeping your thumb up, and place it on the other outstretched hand. Now lift both hands up.

Use The Pareto Principle

Did you hear about the Pareto principle also known as 80/20 rule?

The Pareto principle says, that roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. Transferred to language learning this means that 20% of things you learn contribute to 80% of your total ASL improvement. In other words, only a small proportion of your learning input is driving a large part of your learning progress.

In language learning, the important part which is driving the learning progress is simply engaging with the language! Listening, reading, and speaking! Dont get lost spending too much time on learning grammar or rarely used vocabulary.

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Udemy: American Sign Language Basics

Next on my list is another great class taught by instructor and ASL educator, JP Cappalonga, who has designed this course for complete beginners who want to learn the basics of ASL.

Each lesson that JP teaches is followed by a practice lesson that allows students to practice what they have just learned. This will help students retain the information and build a strong foundation. This class also includes some helpful insights into deaf culture, such as the correct way to get a deaf persons attention.

Topics covered in this ASL class are the manual alphabet, fingerspelling, numbers 1-10, greetings and introductions, colors, who and where, and tons more!

Overall, this is one of the best well-rounded online ASL classes for those looking to really understand the language. Level 2 and Level 3 also available. Highly recommended!


More About Amanda Beneke

The Letter Z in Sign Language – Teach Yourself Sign Language

Amanda Beneke is a Speech-Language Pathologist and a certified Listening and Spoken Language Specialist/Auditory Verbal Therapist. She graduated from the University of Arizona with her masters degree in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences in 2009. Since that time, she has;worked in different settings across the United States to provide evaluations and speech-language therapy/listening and spoken language services for children of all ages. She utilizes the principles of Auditory Verbal Therapy to teach parents and caregivers how to be primary facilitators of their childs listening and spoken language skills. Amanda has worked with children with cochlear implants , hearing aids, and auditory brainstem implants . In addition, Amanda communicates with families in American Sign Language and Spanish to support the language of the home. She has experience supervising and training graduate students during practicum placements.;Amanda has volunteered with a nonprofit organization called CLASP International since 2011 to develop the field of speech-language pathology in Zambia, Africa.;Amanda;currently works with the Early Learning Program at Arizona School for the Deaf and the Blind. Previously she worked at John Tracy Center, , and the University of Texas at Dallas Callier Center for Communication Disorders. ;

Contact Amanda Beneke If you want to get in touch with Amanda you can email her at or DM her on instagram .

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Speak Out: Your Thoughts On Learning Sign Language

Kim Sullivan on June 05, 2020:

I believe that Sign Language can also be used in the Medical Field. People who suffer from a stroke sometimes have a hard time communicating. It’ll be a great way to exercise the fingers, hands, wrist and to learn to focus again. Just like you do with the blind and deaf, finger-spell everything in their hands. Remember the story about Helen Keller.

PurpleParasols on May 09, 2013:

I think it is wonderful for people to want to learn ASL signs to aid in communicating with the Deaf. I am a graduate of Gallaudet University and as such would like to mention that a little cultural sensitivity is needed when discussing ASL. ASL is a language, with it’s own syntactical structure – much like English or French. It is not “spoken” as referred to several times in your lens. Knowing some ASL signs and placing them in English word order is not communicating fluently in ASL. Which is fine! I still encourage others to learn as much as they can. I just wanted to point out that the linguistic base of ASL is not the same as the “baby signs” we teach hearing children.

imagelist lm on April 16, 2013:

Wooowwww…great lens…

Gabriel from Hobbsville, NC on February 01, 2013:

Thanks so much for the info. I did sign language a long time ago and thought I had forgotten it until i looked over your site and gave my self a test. Not bad I must say but I do have to refresh on some of it.

texasdreams lm on September 29, 2012:

bbullard on July 31, 2012:

it great !! thx

Can You Teach Yourself Asl

In total, there are 26 different ASL hand signs that you will need to master when learning American Sign Language. However, when we say that it can take just 60 to 90-hours to learn ASL, we only mean that this is the approximate amount of time it takes to memorize the ASL alphabet.

To start having conversations in sign language, you will also need to learn how to use 19 different hand shapes and several different facial expressions. Most importantly of all, you will need to start having lots of interaction with real;deaf;people.

All in all, it is not really possible to teach yourself ASL. If you want to start holding meaningful conversations in ASL, you will need formal instruction and practice. However, it is possible to learn basics like the ASL alphabet to get a head start.

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How To Learn American Sign Language

This article was co-authored by our trained team of editors and researchers who validated it for accuracy and comprehensiveness. wikiHow’s Content Management Team carefully monitors the work from our editorial staff to ensure that each article is backed by trusted research and meets our high quality standards.There are 9 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article received 11 testimonials and 83% of readers who voted found it helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 667,150 times.Learn more…

American Sign Language is one of the most beautiful yet misunderstood languages in the world. Approach learning it with the same respect and expectations you would if you were learning any foreign spoken language. ASL is used in the United States and Canada. Other sign languages are used across the world, including Malaysia, Germany, Austria, Norway, and Finland. This article will give you some tips on learning this wonderful form of communication.

The Best Way To Learn Asl For Beginners

How to Start Teaching Yourself ASL

As with learning any type of language, it takes time and persistence to develop communication skills through sign. While learning a few basic sign language words is easy, mastering ASL takes years of practice. One of the greatest developments in ASL learning has been the ability for teachers, students, and friends to connect via webcam. Online ASL lessons make it possible to build sign language skills from anywhere in the world.

While lesson videos, books, and online resources are a great tool for learning vocabulary and the fundamentals of ASL, there is no substitute for working one-on-one with a teacher. Private lessons allow for real-time feedback and personalized lesson plans, so your sign language skills can reach their full expression.

Ready to take your ASL skills to the next level? Find your sign language teacher today!

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Find A Practice Buddy Or Join The Local Deaf Community

To make conversation you need people to interact with. Most cities or towns have a local Deaf community. Visit meetups and surround yourself with people who know how to sign.;;

If you live far away from a big city, try to find a practice buddy via the internet . You can communicate with your buddy through video calls!

From Volunteer To White House Intern

Kaitlyn’s love of ASL was inspired by a deaf classmate in middle school. Since learning the language, she’s used her ASL skills as a White House intern and hopes to become psychologist for the Deaf after completing grad school!

At Central Washington University, Deaf Instructors and a “No Voices” Policy Motivate ASL Students to SucceedRead;More


ASL is deeply rooted in the Deaf Community and Culture. Studying ASL promotes better awareness of and sensitivity to the deaf and hard of hearing community. As someone proficient in ASL, you will develop a strong appreciation for deaf culture, and you can promote understanding and acceptance of the language among others.

Career Opportunities from Learning American Sign Language

One especially exciting career path open to bilingual hearing professionals is interpretation. There is a great need to increase the availability of qualified ASL interpreters in the community and mainstream programs in schools and colleges/universities. Some places interpreters are in demand include hospitals, courts, governmental agencies, community activities, and local, county, and state legislatures.

Likewise, professionals in public and private agencies and educational settingssuch as teachers, counselors, consultants, therapists, and specialistsuse ASL to serve the deaf and hard of hearing. Law enforcement and emergency response workers also benefit from a knowledge of ASL.

Demand for American Sign Language Interpreters on the RiseCheck;it;Out

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Hearing Sign Language Users

While many deaf people need sign language, so do others who are not deaf. In fact, there has been a discussion in the deaf and hard of hearing community about substituting the term “signing community” for the term “deaf community” for this very reason.

Non-deaf users of sign language include hearing babies, nonverbal people who can hear but cannot talk, and even gorillas or chimpanzees. Each of these instances points to the importance of continuing the language so that communication is more inclusive.

Asl Summer Residency Program At Gallaudet

Lets Sign: Resources and Apps to Teach Yourself ASL

Come to Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. to immerse yourself in learning ASL on the campus of the worlds only university for Deaf and hard of hearing students.

Youll find yourself living and learning on this historical campus, a Deaf cultural mecca situated within one of the worlds most visited cities with unrivaled free cultural activities.

  • ASL Training for Your Business
  • Undergraduate & Graduate Programs

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Asl Connect From Gallaudet University

Gallaudet University, a private school for the deaf and hard of hearing, has this ASL Connect program to help you learn sign language from home. There are over 20 videos to help you learn everything from colors, letters, and numbers to themes regarding sports, family, weather, basic needs, places, and more.

There are also basic, interactive sign language lessons you can take part in. These include three modulesPersonal Information, Making an Encounter, and Peopleeach with their own set of lessons such as greetings, telling your name, making an introduction, vocabulary, and more.

Learn Asl Interesting Facts

  • American Sign Language ASL is the third most widely used language in the U.S., English and Spanish being the first two ones.
  • While in spoken language the words are formed by combining vowels and consonants, in the sign language they are formed from different signs hand movements, hand locations, handshapes. The Dictionary of American Sign Language lists18-19 handshapes, 24 movements, and 12 locations.
  • To communicate effectively and ensure safety, scuba divers use sign language underwater.
  • It might be helpful to know that usually the lowercase deaf is used to describe the condition of not hearing, while uppercase Deaf refers to culture and a specific group of people who communicate in ASL.

Before introducing some most commonly used words and phrases in ASL, lets look into basic sentence types and signing peculiarities. Sentences help us accomplish three main things: make a statement, ask a question, or give a command. To convey these grammatical meanings, we usually use intonation in spoken languages, while sign language uses non-manual forms of communication.

When asking a question, a sign language user raises his eyebrows, widens his eyes, or moves his head, body, shoulders. When giving a command, you should sign in a faster and sharper manner or, conversely, deliberately produce the sign in a slower manner than usual. Besides, when telling someone to do something, you should look directly at the person you are talking to.

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A Few Rules For Behavior

So, with any culture, certain things differ when it comes to rudeness or appropriateness. Most of us are understanding to other cultures in the way based on the basic morality and ethics of respecting one anothers differences. To help fit in a little better while using ASL, there are a few cultural rules you should keep in mind:

  • As opposed to the hearing culture, you should stare. Losing eye contact with someone whos signing to you is considered rude. Itd be like me putting my hands over my ears while youre speaking to me.
  • Unlike hearing culture, descriptive facial expression and body movement are necessary for ASL. It is actually a part of the grammar. Oftentimes, the expressions and movements are used to describe the emotion or provide additional meaning to the conversation.
  • When introducing yourself, it is common to describe yourself in more ways than one. Where you live, your full name, where youre from, or what school you attend are all common introductions. Because the Deaf Community is a smaller group of people its nice to enjoy commonalities. Hey, Im from Pittsburghand these types of things are not so rare to share in a hearing conversation either.
  • Note that there are many other Sign Languages, per different countries!
  • Learn Online By Watching Videos

    Teach Yourself American Sign Language

    Like many things these days, you can learn easily online!;There are plenty of resources, like YouTube or BSL Zone where you can watch videos with sign language. Any form of video is a great way to watch and you can replay it as many times as you like, in the comfort of your own home.

    Read more:;Easily learn sign language by studying these GIFs

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    Asl Language Lessons For Kids: Free Asl Alphabet Flashcards

    ASL language is a great language course option for homeschooling and students. Well discuss the best resources for learning ASL colors and alphabet and more! FREE asl alphabet flashcards that will help you teach American Sign Language even if you dont know ASL. Great resources, tips, lessons and videos for American Sign Language for preschool and up !

    Benefits Of Learning A Second Language

    One NEA Research study explains that there are SO many benefits to learning a second language in general. I really suggest digging into this study, its very interesting and plays a huge role in why I teach my son ASL. Heres a summary:

  • Benefits academic progress
  • Benefits higher order, abstract and creative thinking
  • Enriches and enhances cognitive development
  • Enhances a students sense of achievement
  • Helps students score higher on standardized tests
  • Promotes cultural awareness and competency
  • Improves chances of college acceptance, achievement, and attainment
  • Enhances career opportunities
  • Benefits understanding and security in the community and society
  • Breaks down barriers
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    The Best Apps For Learning Sign Language

    Contributed by Debbie Clason, staff writer, Healthy HearingLast updated June 10, 20192019-06-10T00:00:00-05:00

    Do you want to learn how to communicate with the Deaf community or people with hearing loss who may use American Sign Language ? Or interested in learning a new language?;Just like so many other things, theres an app for that.

    ASL is a vibrant language that serves the;Deaf community.;

    Thanks to todays technology, anyone with an iPhone, Android smartphone or tablet can learn ASL basics or practice its techniques. To help you get started, weve assembled a list of popular apps.

    The Best Sites For Learning American Sign Language

    ASL Tutorial Introduce yourself

    When it comes to learning new languages, American Sign Language presents special challenges and rewards. We’ve vetted the top sites to help anyone who wants to learn ASL get started.

    There are plenty of apps and websites for learning languages. Very few of them, however, offer American Sign Language alongside the other languages that English speakers typically study.;We’ve taken a look at the top contenders to help you find the best site for learning ASL.

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    How To Learn American Sign Language Summary

    Summarizing our guide on how to learn American sign language ASL.

    The word communication derives from the Latin word communico meaning sharing, imparting. We share to be effective in our interactions. We give and receive. We wake up to the fact that diversity is all around us, and each community has its own way of sharing information be it verbal or non-verbal.

    As the neurologist and author Oliver Sacks puts it, sign language is the equal of speech, so by mastering a sign language, we learn a new language and widen our opportunities to connect with others.

    Start exploring the amazing world of signs, and you will take a step closer to the deaf and hard-of-hearing people, their vision of life, their dynamic, rich, and unique culture.

    What is your experience? Feel free to share your tips on how to learn American Sign Language in the comments below.

    Part 2 Of 3: Ways To Learn

  • 1Invest in a good sign language dictionary. Dictionaries are critical tools for learning any language, and ASL is no exception. A good dictionary will allow you to look up signs you don’t understand, as well as give you something to study.XResearch source
  • Look for a dictionary with easy-to-understand illustrations and descriptions.
  • Try using an online dictionary, where you can see videos of the signs being produced.
  • 2Take a class from a deaf instructor. A classroom setting will give you multiple people to practice signing with, as well as feedback on your performance.
  • Many colleges will allow you to take a class without enrolling. Check with your local school to see what programs they might offer.
  • Community programs such as local libraries and recreational centers will often offer ASL classes for those that are interested.
  • 3Buy a few study guides. While a dictionary will show you how to sign every word or phrase, a study guide will get you signing in a more practical fashion. A study guide will provide more instruction than a dictionary, and will help you learn basic conversations as well as sentence structure.
  • 4Look for resources online. The internet can provide a wealth of information about signing, how to sign, Deaf culture, and more.
  • 5 With the advent of smartphones, carrying a dictionary and study guide around with you has never been easier. Both the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store have multiple options to choose from, ranging from free to a few dollars.
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