Start Learning Sign Language (ASL 1 – Intro)



Learning sign language is so much fun!

Unfortunately, many ASL classes are not taught correctly, expensive, and scheduled. The ASL classes on this website are much different. They are organized, straight to the point, fun, free, and at your own pace.

Materials you will need for the class

  1. ASL 1 WORKBOOK (PDF) (Required & Free) – You will use the workbook for the class assignments and activities.
  2. ASL 1 Vocabulary Study Sheet (PDF) (Helpful & Free) – This is a list of all the vocabulary words in ASL 1.
  3. The Don’t Just “Sign”… Communicate! Student Guides (Highly Recommended) – Readings are assigned from these books throughout the Start ASL curriculum for further learning and more in-depth studies. We highly recommend these books for every ASL student. These guides not only cover all of the essential information about ASL and Deaf Culture you will need for your ASL journey, but the ASL grammar book is the only book for students completely dedicated to ASL grammar. You will be able to learn how to successfully and accurately sign in ASL right from the beginning–something most ASL students don’t get to do!
  4. ASL 1, 2, & 3 – Complete Online Version (Optional) – We also offer the complete Start ASL Online Course – a premium version of these online classes. With the premium version, you get access to all the Start ASL vocabulary videos for ASL 2 and 3 as well as all of the lessons and activities in a more organized and easy-to-follow format, with no advertisements, the ability to watch the videos in slower motion, an exclusive group and forum, the option to submit assignments for viewing and commenting by other students, and a completion certificate. We highly recommend this option for serious students who want to form a community of active learners and learn ASL together.
  5. ASL 1 Offline Course (Optional) – The Start ASL online classes are available as an instant download. This one file contains all of the lesson and vocabulary videos as well as the lessons and workbook. You can take the course using our offline webpage course, our offline PDF course, or both! Only one download and you will have full access to the ASL 1 class on your computer without an internet connection. We highly recommend this if you need access to the class offline, need to download the videos all at once, want to watch the videos in slower motion, or want to learn in person with a group.
  6. Start ASL Tutoring Program (Optional) – With the Start ASL Tutoring Program, you have access to professional ASL tutors who can help you with concepts you may be struggling with or who can just help you practice what you’ve learned. This is a great option if you are serious about learning and being able to effectively communicate in ASL.

Unit Sections

  • Vocabulary
    This section will give you a list of phrases and vocabulary words to study for the activities in the class.
  • Conversation
    Every other Unit begins with a conversation video and outline. This section shows how to use ASL in everyday conversation. Try to watch the video until you can follow what is being said without the outline (that’s when you’re really learning sign language!)
  • Conversation Explained
    Every unit that has a Conversation section will have a Conversation Explained section. This section explains the conversation in the Conversation section in detail.
  • Conversation Practice
    Every unit that does NOT have a Conversation section has a Conversation Practice section with the same conversation as the one in the Conversation section in the previous Unit. However, this time you will be practicing signing the conversation with a partner or with one of the signers.
  • Grammar
    American Sign Language has a unique grammar structure and you will be learning sign language grammar in this class. In every Unit, there will be sections that discuss (and sometimes demonstrate) ASL grammar.
  • Grammar Practice
    These sections give you a chance to practice the grammar rules identified in the ASL grammar sections. These usually consist of a video with questions.
  • Numbers
    There are several different ways to sign numbers in American Sign Language. Every so often, I will give you a number lesson in this section.
  • Number Practice
    After learning sign language numbers in the Numbers lesson, this section will give you the ability to practice what you learned with a video and questions.
  • Fingerspelling Practice
    I will throw in a few fingerspelling practices here and there so you can practice your fingerspelling. This will often consist of a video with questions, or a short assignment for you to do on your own.
  • Readings
    I will be giving you some important reading assignments so you can learn about Deaf Culture, Deaf History, and more in-depth ASL grammar. These readings will either be from the website or from The Don’t Just “Sign”… Communicate! Student Guides.
  • Vocabulary Quiz
    After every few units, I will give you a vocabulary quiz on the vocabulary that you should know through this point. I will give you a conversation or monologue to watch and you will need to write down the signs that are numbered.
  • Comprehension
    In this section, I will give you a video with questions. This is just so you can practice your comprehension and receptive skills.
  • Deaf Event
    Attending Deaf events is a very important part of learning sign language. My lessons are no substitute for actual conversation. You will learn a lot more talking to a Deaf person than you will when learning sign language by yourself. I will assign you and remind you about attending Deaf events in this section.

Because there is so much to these lessons, I want to make sure you know that some pages may take a while to load because of the videos. Please be patient because the wait time is definitely worth it!

Introduction to Glossing

Because ASL is an unwritten language, glossing is a technique used to create a written version of ASL. In this class, I will use glossing to give examples of how to use ASL grammar when signing. Glossing is not difficult to understand, but it is necessary for me to give a short lesson so you are able to follow the examples in this class.

When glossing a sentence in ASL, there are certain rules for how everything is written:

Every sign is written in CAPITAL LETTERS.

“I like rice.”

Signs that are translated into more than one English word are shown with dashes. The lower case words are implied, so they are not signed separately.

“Mom went to the store yesterday.”

Fingerspelling is shown with dashes between the capital letters or with “fs-“.

“Her name is Suzy.”

Gestures, or words that aren’t necessarily signs, are shown with quotation marks. An example of using gestures would be glossing a name sign.

“K tap shoulder”

Lexicalized fingerspelling is shown with a number sign (“#”). When you see the number sign, this means you fingerspell the word, but use the lexicalized version that is produced more like a sign than like a fingerspelled word.

“She arrived very early.”

Ok, enough of my rambling…