Tips for Sign Language Learning

March 4, 2011

Tips for Learning Sign Language

If you are ready to learn American Sign Language (ASL), then I have some great sign language learning tips for you today. If you use some of the free resources around the web that I’m about to show you, then I can promise that you’ll be conversational in ASL in just a few short months. How can I promise you that? Because during the summer of 2010 I accomplished this very goal.

You might find yourself in the same situation I was in last year. I was really excited to learn ASL, but I was intimidated as well. So today I want to show you the sign language learning techniques that made it possible for me to be conversational in ASL in such a short amount of time.

Back to School. Back to School. To Prove to Dad I’m Not a Fool

In the summer of 2010, I was lucky enough to have the time to enroll in American Sign Language 1A at San Jose City College in San Jose, CA. And by lucky, I mean that I was unemployed and figured I’d use the extra time to do something a bit more constructive than watching ESPN for 18 hours per day.

My professor, Rufus Blair, is profoundly deaf. All of us in class were pretty nervous those first few days. How were we ever going to communicate with him once the in-class interpreter left us for good after day two? How would we know exactly what to study? How would we understand what would be on the test? How would we tell him, “I’m so sorry, but I REALLY need to go to the bathroom right now!”

Our fears were alleviated once he gave us some free sites on the web that were super helpful for sign language learning.

Let Your Fingers do the Spelling

I want to make sure you are aware of some incredibly helpful sites out there on the web that are 100% free. I’ve already shown you some helpful tips for learning Spanish for free online, so let’s do the same now for ASL.

Far and away the most helpful site for learning ASL is Dr. Bill Vicars’ Fingerspelling Practice Site. Fingerspelling, although a much slower way to communicate versus signs, is the foundation of the language. So long as you know the alphabet, you can communicate. The best part about Dr. Bill Vicars’ site is you can control the speed at which a word is signed to you. Moreover, you can replay it as many times as you need. I can’t tell you how many times I hit “replay” during the first month of my ASL class. But before I knew it, I had cranked up the speed to medium and was comprehending words of six letters or more. I honestly can’t recommend this site enough.

What’s Your Sign?

There is one other site that I want to show you. is simply THE BEST site on the web if you want to learn signs. The amount of signs performed on video is truly staggering. While studying after class, I’d use this site to watch the motions of a sign when my textbook just wasn’t enough. You can replay the brief video clips as many times as you want; you can also slow them down to help you understand the nuances of each sign.

I’m a Rocket Man

For those of you not unemployed (thank goodness) and unable to attend a community class as I did, and for those that want to go a step beyond just free sites on the web, then you need to check out Rocket Sign Language today. You’ll receive thousands of video clips, super fun games to hep you learn fingerspelling and signs, as well as 24-hour support via the forums to help you with any questions you might have no matter what time it is. When you combine this helpful software with free resources around the web, sign language learning can be loads of fun.

photo by: Kleine_Moewe

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