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ASL 101

Updated on September 9, 2014

It took almost 30 years, but I finally enrolled in my first ASL (American Sign Language) class.

*Happy dance.*

One day, when I was in elementary school, we had a few people come to our school to teach us sign language. It was really just an interactive assembly. Half of the school at a time shuffled into our gymnasium, sat on the floor, and watched. I don't remember who they were or where they were from, but I will always remember how much I loved that day. They taught us the alphabet, numbers 1-10, the Pledge of Allegiance, and how to sign the song Tomorrow from Annie. (The other half of the school learned the song Puff the Magic Dragon. Funny the details you remember.)

Since that day I've tried to absorb as much ASL as I could from anyone and everyone who knew it. I also watched videos and read books to learn how to sign with my daughter when she was a baby. But I never had the opportunity to actually take a class. Until this September. My, my husband's, and my daughter's schedules were all in a place where I could finally attempt this, and I was ready to go. I really want to become fluent in ASL, and possibly become an interpreter.

Already having a (completely unrelated) degree I am eligible for a Deaf Studies Certificate program. This year (Fall 2013/Spring 2014) I'm just taking once class per semester to get my prerequisites of ASL101 and ASL102 taken care of and to get back into the swing of school. Then I'll apply to the 2 year program. After that I might be taking another 2 year program. But I'm taking it one step at a time.

I'm more than halfway through ASL101 now and I love my class. It is completely voices off. There are 18 students and we partner up in class to practice various concepts and then go up in front of the class to sign. I was always nervous to speak in front of classes, but I have no stage fright when I'm signing.

My text book for both classes this year is Master ASL! - Level One.

Unit One: Welcome

Greetings, farewells, and using non-manual signals.

Unit Two: Getting Started

Asking for help, activities, and days of the week.

Unit Three: Getting to Know You

Background, interests, states, cities, colors, numbers, holidays, and weather.

Unit Four: Family & Friends

Family members, pets, age, life events, friendship, and personal qualities.

(The next six units are for ASL102.)

At my campus bookstore the textbook comes with both a DVD and workbook. I believe if you purchase it from Amazon the workbook is sold separately.

My professor also has us use a second DVD titled A Sign of Respect.

A Sign of Respect: Strategies for Effective Deaf/Hearing Interactions
A Sign of Respect: Strategies for Effective Deaf/Hearing Interactions

We follow the experiences of an ASL and Deaf Culture student.


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    • Christene-S profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago

      The semester is over and I got an A! :DNext up, ASL 102.

    • flycatcherrr profile image


      4 years ago

      I'm interested to read that you signed with your daughter when she was a baby. My little niece was in day care with several deaf children so her whole group learned to sign, and then she came home and tried to teach us adults. Much eye-rolling from the toddler at how slow we adults were to pick up the signs! Very cool, great fun, and often useful, even though we only learned a few rudimentary signs. Kudos to you, Christene, for following up on your passion and taking this first step to becoming an interpreter!

    • lesliesinclair profile image


      4 years ago

      Congratulations on following through on this goal and acknowledging that it will likely advance as your degrees advance. Kudos to you! I'm so proud.

    • Christene-S profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago

      @KathyMcGraw2: The book & DVD are awesome, they are kind of pricey though. First make sure they aren't already using them in their class, then I'd look for a used copy.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      I think it is totally awesome that you are following a childhood memory and dream to pursue your ASL interests!

    • KathyMcGraw2 profile image

      Kathy McGraw 

      4 years ago from California

      Christene I think it's wonderful that you went back to school to follow your dream! My grandkids all are taking ASL and yep that is the only time it's quiet at the homework table :) I am wondering if this ASL book might be a good gift for them.

    • Titia profile image

      Titia Geertman 

      4 years ago from Waterlandkerkje - The Netherlands

      I always find it very interesting when I see deaf people talk to each other and I always thought it a good thing if ASL would be taught to any person in primary school. That way everybody could talk to each other. I've never learned it though, there never have been deaf persons in my surroundings, be it family or friends. Good luck with your studies.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      I could never understand why there are different sign languages. I would have thought that at least the deaf would be able to speak to each other without needing language translations. Think of how quiet UN discussions would be if all the reps were deaf and there was one universal sign language! I wonder if that would have made getting international agreements a bit of a smoother process.

    • Christene-S profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago

      @anonymous: Thanks! I've got a long way to go but I'm really excited to be starting out. So far I'm pretty good at it. :)

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      I have always wanted to learn ASL too! Never gotten around to doing anything about it though, and the timing isn't right for me at the moment. Your comment about not being afraid to sign up in front of everyone I found interesting! I hope you thoroughly enjoy learning this valuable language and get to use it to help others communicate.


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