Learning sign language is a valuable and rewarding skill that can open up a new world of communication and understanding for people who are deaf or hearing impaired.
While sign language may seem intimidating at first, it is actually quite easy to learn with a few simple steps.
The Steps for Learning Sign Language
Here are 10 easy steps for getting started with sign language.
Determine which sign language you want to learn
There are several different sign languages used around the world, including American Sign Language (ASL), British Sign Language (BSL), and Auslan (Australian Sign Language). Do some research to determine which one is most relevant to your location and needs. Each sign language has its unique grammar, culture, and history, so it’s important to choose the one that best fits your goals and interests.
Find online resources
The internet is a treasure trove of information and resources for learning sign language. Take advantage of free online courses, videos, and tutorials to get started.
Some popular online resources for learning sign language include:
- SignLanguage101.com – offers a comprehensive ASL course for free
- Lifeprint.com – provides ASL lessons, videos, and quizzes
- ASL University – offers online lessons and resources for learning ASL
- BSL Online – a website for learning British Sign Language
- The ASL App – a mobile app for learning ASL
- YouTube – has a wealth of ASL and sign language tutorials from different countries
It’s also a good idea to join online sign language communities to connect with others who are learning, practicing, and using sign language. This will provide you with opportunities to practice and get feedback on your signing skills.
Purchase a sign language dictionary
A sign language dictionary is an essential tool for learning the basics of sign language. Look for a dictionary that includes clear, step-by-step illustrations of each sign and its meaning.
There are many sign language dictionaries available in both print and digital formats.
Some popular options include:
- The American Sign Language Dictionary by Martin L. A. Sternberg
- The Oxford Dictionary of British Sign Language by Jonathan Reid
- The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Sign Language by Jessie LEIGH
- Signing Naturally: Student Workbook, Units 1-6 by Cheri Smith
- Dictionary of American Sign Language by Rogers, Lucinda, and Hammond, Graham.
It’s important to choose a dictionary that is specific to the sign language you are interested in learning. This will ensure that you are learning the correct signs and using them appropriately.
The key to learning any new skill is practice. Set aside time each day to practice what you have learned, and try to use sign language in real-life situations as much as possible.
Some tips to help you practice sign language regularly and effectively:
- Find a study partner or join a sign language group. Practicing with others will help you improve your skills and build your confidence.
- Watch and mimic native signers. There are many videos and resources available online that feature sign language users. Study their movements and try to imitate them.
- Use flashcards to memorize signs and their meanings.
- Try to incorporate sign language into your daily routines. For example, you can use signs to communicate with friends, family members, or even pets.
- Regularly review what you have learned to ensure that the signs and concepts are firmly ingrained in your memory.
The more you practice sign language, the more natural it will become. Stick with it and you will see your skills improve over time.
Connect with a community
Joining a sign language group or class can help you practice and improve your skills. This can also provide opportunities to meet and communicate with other sign language users.
Here are some ways to connect with a sign language community:
- Enroll in a sign language class at a local community college or language school.
- Look for sign language meetups in your area. These are groups of people who come together to practice and learn sign language.
- Join an online sign language forum or community. There are many websites and social media groups dedicated to sign language.
- Attend sign language events and workshops. These are great opportunities to meet other sign language users and practice your skills.
- Volunteer with organizations that serve the deaf and hard-of-hearing community.
Connecting with a sign language community will provide you with opportunities to practice, improve your skills, and learn more about the culture and history of sign language. It can also be a lot of fun and a great way to make new friends!
Watch sign language videos
There are many sign language videos available online, including news programs, TV shows, and movies. Watching these can help you see sign language in action and improve your comprehension.
You can find sign language videos on websites like YouTube, Vimeo, and Dailymotion. You can also find educational videos on websites like Sign Language 101 or Signing Savvy. These videos can provide a great way to practice and improve your signing skills.
Practice with a partner
Practicing with a friend or family member can help you reinforce what you have learned and improve your skills. Find someone willing to practice with you regularly.
You can practice signing words, phrases, and sentences with each other, and help each other learn by correcting mistakes and offering feedback.
Additionally, practicing with a partner allows you to practice using sign language in a conversational setting, which can help you develop better fluency. If you don’t have anyone to practice with in person, you can also find online communities or virtual language exchange partners to practice with.
There are several apps and websites available that can help you learn sign language. Take advantage of these resources to practice your skills and test your knowledge.
There are many apps, such as Signly, Sign Language Tutor, and ASL Coach, that offer lessons, quizzes, and interactive activities to help you practice and improve your skills. Websites like Quizlet and Memrise also offer sign language flashcards and quizzes.
Additionally, there are online courses and tutorials available on platforms like Udemy and Coursera. Utilizing these resources can provide a convenient and accessible way to learn and practice sign language.
Attend workshops or events
Attending workshops or events that focus on sign language can be a great way to learn and practice in a supportive and fun environment.
These events often provide opportunities to learn from experienced sign language instructors and practice with other learners in a supportive and interactive manner. Workshops can also be a great way to learn about the culture and history of sign language and connect with the deaf community.
You can find workshops and events by checking local community centers, community colleges, or organizations that focus on sign language or deaf culture. Attending these events can help you build confidence in using sign language and provide a fun and engaging way to learn.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes
Learning a new language is a process, and making mistakes is a natural part of that process. Don’t be discouraged by mistakes, and keep practicing until you become confident and fluent in sign language.
Making mistakes is a normal and expected part of learning any new language, including sign language. Don’t be afraid to experiment, try new signs, and ask for help when needed. The most important thing is to keep practicing and using sign language as much as possible.
With time, patience, and consistent practice, you will become more confident and fluent in your signing skills. Remember, every mistake is an opportunity to learn and improve, so embrace the journey and have fun with it!
Interesting Facts About Learning Sign Language
- Sign languages have their own grammar and syntax: Sign languages have their own grammatical structures and rules, distinct from the grammar of spoken languages.
- Sign languages are not universal: Each country or region has its own sign language, such as American Sign Language (ASL) and British Sign Language (BSL).
- Sign language is a full language: Sign languages have the same linguistic properties as spoken languages and can be used to communicate complex ideas and abstract concepts.
- Sign language is visual and spatial: Sign languages use hand gestures, facial expressions, and body movements to convey meaning.
- Sign language is culturally rich: Sign languages have their own unique cultures, traditions, and communities.
By following these 10 easy steps, you can start learning sign language and become a confident and effective communicator.
Try these steps, practice regularly, and be patient with yourself as you progress. Remember, learning a new language takes time, dedication, and effort. But, the rewards of being able to communicate with the deaf and hard-of-hearing community are worth it. Good luck!