Teach Yourself American Sign Language - Basic Sign Language Studies Online
Learn To Sign and Communicate Through ASL
American Sign Language (ASL) is an experience, and arguably the most beautiful language in the world. It is also the third most widely spoken language in the United States (after English and Spanish, respectively). If for no other reason than to be prepared and helpful in an emergency situation, everyone who is able should learn at least basic American Sign Language. There are also benefits like being able to go on to study and become an interpreter for a school, or a religious organization. All of this, however, starts with knowing ASL basics - sign language fingerspelling, alphabet, numbers, colors, common phrases, and terms related to emergency situations.
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Why I Began to Study Sign Language
I am still a beginner with ASL, but I have a real passion for learning American Sign Language for many reasons. Besides it's absolute beauty, it is widely spoken throughout the United States where I live. Since I have become a mother, I have learned a lot about using sign to communicate with babies and small children, and it did make communicating with my son, who was slow to speak in complete sentences, easier and more fun. However, these reasons do not fuel my passion for the language.
As a minister, I see the need for more interpreters in churches. I speak French, and I remember how exciting and beautiful it was to be able to connect with a friend of mine from overseas between languages concerning the things of God. I see how sign language interpreters in churches are able to do that, and it absolutely makes my heart sing. To be able to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ in sign is my heart's desire, and it is the driving force behind my self-study. When I get to a point where I need advanced study, I will begin taking courses; however, with so many resources available for home study in this day and age, it just makes more sense for me as a busy mother to do as much as I can when I can, on my own schedule.
I also seek to learn because I believe ASL should be taught in public schools for credit as a second language. It is the third most widely spoken language in the U.S., so there are lots of career opportunities available for hearing people who sign. Furthermore, it is just good to be as fluent as you can in as many languages as you can for the sake of world view if nothing else. It also makes you more helpful in an emergency situation if you can speak more than one language, including ASL.
The ultimate sign language guide
Read this great book to move from a beginner to a pro at ASL.
Basic ASL: First 100 Signs
According to ASL University, the first 100 ASL signs parents and children learn are:
* Family - mom-dad, boy-girl, marriage, brother-sister, grandpa-grandma, aunt-uncle, baby, single, divorced-separate
* Places - home, work, school, store, church, come-go, car/drive, in-out, with
* Time - day, night, week, month, year, will-(future), before-(in the past), today-(now), finish-("all done!")
* Temperature - hot, cold
* Food - pizza, milk, hamburger, hot dog, egg, apple, cheese, drink, spoon, fork, cup, cereal, water, candy, cookie, hungry
* Clothes - shirt, pants, socks, shoes, coat, underwear
* Health - wash, hurt, bathroom, brush teeth, sleep, nice/clean
* Feelings - happy, angry, sad, sorry, cry, like, good-bad, love
* Requests - please, excuse, thank you, help, who, what, when, where, why, how, stop
* Amounts - big, tall, full, more
* Colors - blue, green, yellow, red, brown, orange, gold & silver
* Money - dollars, cents, cost
* Animals - cat, dog, bird, horse, cow, sheep, pig, bug
Free ASL Videos: Color of Sign
The following are videos introducing and demonstrating American Sign Language, or ASL. Presented as a courtesy by Color of Lanuage, a non-profit developer of sign language materials and resources.
Free ASL Videos: Everyday ASL
Everyday ASL Productions is a company founded by a team of Deaf ASL educators with varied experiences throughout both Deaf and hearing communities. This team understands the importance of promoting and educating American Sign Language (ASL) to ensure successful communication with others using the language.
Free ASL Videos: Signing Time Kids
Signing Time Kids is one of my son's favorite shows, and I have to admit that it is one of my favorites, too. Children learn through instruction and practice with reinforcing lessons and songs, but they also learn by rote. I have learned a lot of sign by simply watching Rachel (the instructor) sign as she communicates with the audience. The lessons are focused on keywords and phrases, but Rachel does not limit her signing to just the terms that she is teaching. You can learn various idioms, syntax, and action verbs as an adult by closely watching Rachel as she speaks and teaches.
So, I highly recommend this series for children from 1 to 92. My son infuses his regular speech with sign, with his favorite sign being the one for "friend".
Advanced Beginner to Intermediate Learning Resource: ASL University
ASL University is probably the hands-down best free online resource for learning ASL. They have detailed lesson plans, an American Sign Language Dictionary, and more. However, in my personal experience, I found this site to be more useful for someone who has a conceptual grasp of ASL, has learned some very basic signs (numbers, letters, some basic vocabulary), and is serious about learning the language. I truly believe that a student who uses visual learning aids like DVDs in conjunction with this site could learn to speak American Sign Language at an intermediate level totally through self-study.
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Get Inspired - Beautiful Stories, Songs, and More in ASL
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