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Teach Yourself American Sign Language - Basic Sign Language Studies Online

Updated on April 1, 2014

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

Learn more about ASL University

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.

Visit ASL University at www.lifeprint.com today!

Get Inspired - Beautiful Stories, Songs, and More in ASL

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Speak Out: Your Thoughts On Learning Sign Language

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    • PurpleParasols profile image

      PurpleParasols 4 years ago

      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 (liberal arts university for the Deaf in Washington DC) 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 profile image

      imagelist lm 4 years ago

      Wooowwww...great lens...

    • HolyChristianWear profile image

      Gabriel 4 years ago from Hobbsville, NC

      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 profile image

      texasdreams lm 4 years ago

      Thank you for this page my son is profoundly deaf!

    • bbullard profile image

      bbullard 5 years ago

      Great lens! Our church once taught sign language as a way of expanding the worship for kids and adults alike, but it has since stopped. I've always wanted to find a way to increase my skill in this area. Thanks for sharing--I'll be sure to check out the books you've listed.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Hey!Don't forget that people that are mute sometimes use ASL also!!'Cause you all are just talking of deaf people but mute's sometimes use it too!!So please quit giving all of the credit to deaf people and just give at least a little credit?Its just kinda rude if you don't ya know?Sorry 'bout my rant....just wanted to let you all know that!

    • profile image

      ron-stewart-1257 5 years ago

      https://www.facebook.com/#!/ron.stewart.1257 I would like to understand your culture, and will share mine to the best of my ability

    • profile image

      ron-stewart-1257 5 years ago

      I think sign lanuage is beautiful. I am hearing and have never walked in a deaf mans shoes, but extend my hand in friendship to all that will befriend me. You truly have a giving spirit about you.

    • Spiderlily321 profile image

      Spiderlily321 5 years ago

      I love ASL! My son has epilepsy and had a bit of a speech delay. Learning ASL in college was beneficial because he could sign the things he couldn't say.

      I have added your lens to my list of favorite featured lenses on specific special needs. I am trying to create a virtual support circle for parents of chldren with special needs. Thank you for sharing! Here is the link: https://hubpages.com/family/my-circle-of-amazing-m...

    • avigarret profile image

      avigarret 5 years ago

      Always wanted to learn sign language, thanks for helping me start.

    • profile image

      shannon-walter 5 years ago

      I've taken a couple sign language classes and I love it. My favorite books are "Signing Illustrated" and "The Joy Of Signing".

    • profile image

      shannon-walter 5 years ago

      I've taken a couple sign language classes and I love it. My favorite books are "Signing Illustrated" and "The Joy Of Signing".

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      it great !! thx

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @anonymous: even thow i'm not deathf ijust want to learn it just in case someone can't hear i can always help them.so you guys can always count on me and i'm aonly triying to be helpful.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      YOU GUYS WHERE SOOOOOOOOOOOOO AWSOMEEEEEEEEEEEEEE.BUT SADLY I DON"T KNOW HOW TO SPEAK SIGN LANGUAGE.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I just started learning. Ive bought a few book so far to get started. I became interested last year when i worked at a boat house and had quite a few hearing impaired people come in and had trouble comunicating with some of the employees. Thanks for the advice and help!

    • kateclough lm profile image

      kateclough lm 5 years ago

      Cool lens! This is something on my bucket list! Thanks for sharing!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Hi this DIDN'T help

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Hi this DIDN'T help

    • Blackspaniel1 profile image

      Blackspaniel1 5 years ago

      Nice lens. I am trying the Pin It button again.

    • Blackspaniel1 profile image

      Blackspaniel1 5 years ago

      Nice lens. I am trying the Pin It button again.

    • Phillyfreeze profile image

      Ronald Tucker 5 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

      I learned some basic signing in the mid 1980s when a friend introduced me to a young very attractive model that was deaf. My friend, Jackie had known Crystal since childhood and was very adept at signing.

      The experience introduced me to a whole new world of communicating and a profound respect for the hearing impaired and their community.

    • Phillyfreeze profile image

      Ronald Tucker 5 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

      I learned some basic signing in the mid 1980s when a friend introduced me to a young very attractive model that was deaf. My friend, Jackie had known Crystal since childhood and was very adept at signing.

      The experience introduced me to a whole new world of communicating and a profound respect for the hearing impaired and their community.

    • Julia Morais profile image

      Julia Morais 5 years ago

      Great source of information here. Awesome lens.

    • Julia Morais profile image

      Julia Morais 5 years ago

      Great source of information here. Awesome lens.

    • profile image

      iwrite4cash 5 years ago

      This is a beautiful lens, I don't know ASL yet, but I am curious to learn. I think I am going to teach myself how after seeing this, nice job!

    • MyCrazyAdventures profile image

      Melissa 5 years ago from Albuquerque, NM

      Great lens brimming with information. Blessed by a Squid Angel.

    • Johanna Eisler profile image

      Johanna Eisler 5 years ago

      Thank you so much for this terrific lens!

      I interpret in a small community, and love to encourage others to learn this beautiful language, too. I use ASL University frequently - the professor is great. A couple of other online resources I enjoy using are signingsavvy.com and aslpro.com.

      Along with you, I encourage everyone to learn - the blessings are beyond what you can imagine!

    • profile image

      Maferneto 5 years ago

      This is a very great and useful lens. I worked with deaf people in Brazil for more then 12 years and learned the Brazilian sign language. I can tell it was the most wonderful experience ever!

    • HealthfulMD profile image

      Kirsti A. Dyer 6 years ago from Northern California

      Great lens. I taught myself sign language in college and then would sign words inside of my white coat pockets when I got frustrated during medical school and residency. I told my kids about the signing and they thought it was funny.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I had to go back and learn the alphabet, I had the trouble with remembering E, R, and Q. I get my fingers mixed up with the R and the Q. I wasn't putting my thumbs inside my fingers. So, thank you for the chart above. It sure helped a lot.

    • icjackson profile image

      icjackson 6 years ago

      @Christene-S: YAY! Thank you so much :-D

    • Christene-S profile image

      Christene-S 6 years ago

      Blessed by a SquidAngel :)

    • profile image

      tonyboy 6 years ago

      I really like to learn sign language and I'm fortunate that I've found Rocket Sign Language!

    • Mrmakingusmile LM profile image

      Mrmakingusmile LM 6 years ago

      Good resource. I want to learn. I look forward to exploring many more of your lenses! Thank you for making me smile.

    • profile image

      IscahDesigns 6 years ago

      As an ASL teacher/interpreter, I LOVE what you have done with this lens. Wonderful resources! Take a look also at aslpro.com. Their dictionaries and "quiz me" features are priceless! (If you've already listed this site here, and I'm just blind, I apologize in advance.)

      Wonderful lens! Keep up the good work!

    • Spook LM profile image

      Spook LM 6 years ago

      Ah, no wonder you don't visit my lenses? I'm pulled two ways by this. Nevertheless. Blessed by an Angel.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      nice lens. thank you

      I book marked your main web page for personal reference.

      .....

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    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Terrific lens! I am going to lensroll this to my Sign Language Series Lenses:

      1. Sign Language Alphabet

      2. Sign Language Colors

      3. Sign Language Songs

      4. Sign Language Numbers 1-10

      5. Sign Language Family Signs

      6. Sign Language Food Related Words

      7. Sign Language Animal Signs

      8. Teaching Sign Language in Daycare Schools

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      American Sign Language came straight from God to show us that there are so many ways to communicate. My father is fluent and I plan to be. Do you know any good classes in Greenville, Sc or a way I can look up good classes

    • five starbaby-com profile image

      five starbaby-com 8 years ago

      What a beautiful lens. Thanks for all the great info.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      I am a certified teacher who has chosen to teach ASL in my community. This site has become a great resource for me in my small town. ASL is so beautiful, I want to teach it to everyone who desires to learn! Thank you!

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      I love your lens! I have loved sign language since I was four and am learning more and more each day! I hope to one day be an interpreter. I have taught my kids and they love it. Keep up the good work! You should take a look at my Baby Sign Language lens! ;o)

      Have a fantastic day!

    • Teddi14 LM profile image

      Teddi14 LM 8 years ago

      Wow, I just found you from a tweet on twitter and when I got to your bio I noticed you had a lens on sign language and I wanted to check it out because I have one about using sign language with babies. Then I noticed you have my lens featured here. How cool. Thanks so much!!!!! 5 *'s for sure and I am lensrolling it to mine.

    • GlennaJones profile image

      Glenna Jones 8 years ago from Orlando, Florida

      My brother used to be an interpreter for the deaf when he was in college. It never hurts to know some of it. This is a very interesting lens. Thanks for the info.

    • chefkeem profile image

      Achim Thiemermann 8 years ago from Austin, Texas

      A hearty SquidAngel Blessing for this great resource. A masterpiece lens! 5*s

    • jimmielanley profile image

      Jimmie Lanley 8 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA

      I used simple Baby Signs with my daughter before she could speak. Using them was a great way for her to communicate before words

    • profile image

      Trekkiemelissa 8 years ago

      Good lense. I learned how to sign when I was in junior high. Its interesting how their language is different than our own.