Learning ASL is a significant way to communicate with the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. With some practice, you can learn to sign basic words and phrases in ASL quickly and easily.
This article covers some basic ASL terms and tips as you start your journey into learning ASL.
Whether you’re interested in learning it for personal reasons or to communicate with the deaf community, our guide will help you get started.
Why Learn American Sign Language Basics?
Learning any language has many benefits – increased confidence, creativity, job skills, better memory, and improved problem-solving skills – but there are even more reasons why learning ASL basics could be beneficial.
Being able to communicate in ASL allows you to communicate with others who rely on sign language as their primary form of communication, which can be incredibly rewarding. It will expand your understanding of deaf culture and history, as well as give you insights into how different people interact with each other.
More job opportunities
First, learning ASL can open up new job opportunities. Increasingly, employers are hiring people who have knowledge of sign language to help bridge the communication gap between those who rely on spoken and written language with those who depend on signing.
Knowing ASL also provides unique insight into legal situations involving translations, intellectual property rights, and copyright laws that involve sign language materials like videos and audiovisual material.
Second, learning ASL will boost your confidence significantly. Signing is an incredibly empowering form of expression that allows you to communicate emotions without words.
With a few simple hand gestures, you’ll be able to express so much more than just basic conversation topics. Plus, understanding the grammar and syntax of sign language will improve your understanding of English grammar and sentence structure.
Finally, learning ASL can give you a unique perspective on how different cultures communicate with one another. Understanding another culture’s language is incredibly eye-opening and allows you to gain insight into the way other people think.
By understanding the symbols that makeup ASL, you’ll be able to understand how those symbols are used to convey both literal and nonliteral meanings.
With all these benefits, it’s clear why learning ASL is such a great choice for anyone looking to make new connections or just expand their horizons.
How to Learn American Sign Language Basics
Learning ASL basics is a great way to start exploring the rich culture and language of the deaf community. While it may seem intimidating at first, don’t let that discourage you from learning it! With a little bit of practice and dedication, you can become fluent in ASL.
Here are some tips to help you get started.
Find ASL resources
There are many resources available online and in person to help you learn ASL. You can take online courses, watch YouTube tutorials, use ASL dictionaries, or attend local ASL classes.
Find resources that work for your learning style and budget. Make sure to check reviews, ratings, and credentials of the resource before you commit. If you are short on funds, look for free online tutorials or self-learning materials that can help you get started.
Start with the ASL alphabet
The ASL alphabet is the foundation of the language. Learn the signs for each letter, practice fingerspelling words, and use ASL charts to help you memorize the signs. It’s important to practice fingerspelling words with a partner. Fingerspelling is a great way to learn the alphabet quickly, and it will help you as you progress in signing.
When learning ASL, don’t forget to use facial expressions too! They are an essential part of ASL communication, and they can help convey your message.
Master basic ASL vocabulary
Start with basic ASL vocabulary, such as common nouns, verbs, and adjectives. Use flashcards, watch ASL videos, and practice with a partner to help you memorize the signs.
Once you become comfortable with the basic signs, move on to more advanced vocabulary such as animals, body parts, and activities. With a larger ASL vocabulary, you will be able to communicate more effectively in signing conversations.
Practice conversing in ASL
Once you’ve learned some basic vocabulary, start practicing conversing in ASL. Look for opportunities to practice with other ASL learners or members of the deaf community. Practice signing with facial expressions and body language to help convey meaning.
If you’re not sure what a sign means, don’t be afraid to ask questions until you understand. Watch ASL videos and practice interpreting what is being signed.
Tips for Learning ASL
- Practice consistently: Make time for daily practice to help you memorize signs and improve your fluency
- Use visual aids: Use videos, charts, and pictures to help you remember signs and grammar rules.
- Attend ASL events: Attend ASL events in your community to meet other learners and practice signing.
- Be patient: Learning ASL takes time and patience. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see progress right away.
Learning ASL basics can be a rewarding experience. By following our guide, you’ll have the tools to become fluent in ASL and communicate with the deaf community.
Remember to practice consistently, use visual aids, attend ASL events, be patient, take your time and don’t get discouraged if you make mistakes along the way. With patience and practice, you can confidently use ASL to communicate with friends, family, and even strangers.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the major elements of sign language?
Sign language is composed of a number of elements, including handshapes, facial expressions, body posture and movement, and other non-manual signals.
Handshapes are the foundation of sign language; they represent individual letters and words by taking on certain shapes with one or two hands.
Facial expressions can also play an important role in sign language, enabling signers to communicate emotions or add emphasis to certain words.
Body posture and movement help provide context and emphasize a particular message.
Finally, non-manual signals are gestures that involve the face, head, shoulders, and other parts of the body to signal meaning or grammatical information such as questions or tense.
When was American sign language invented?
American Sign Language was invented in 1817 by Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, a teacher of the deaf.
He based it on the sign language he observed being used in France at the time but adapted it to suit the needs of his students in America.
It has since become recognized as its own distinct language, with more than 500,000 users nationwide.
How long does it take to learn American sign language?
ASL is a lifelong process. It can take anywhere from several months to many years, depending on how much time and effort you are willing to invest in learning it.
A basic level of ASL proficiency can usually be achieved within three to six months, while mastery may require two or more years of consistent practice.