Start Learning Sign Language (ASL 1 – Intro)

ASL 1

Introduction

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 Dictionary (Required) – For this class, you will need an ASL dictionary. The lessons will include lists of vocabulary with links to videos for the words that are required to take the courses. If you wish to learn more than is required, you can look up the remainder of the vocabulary words in your printed ASL dictionary, or on one of the many ASL dictionary websites.
  3. The Don’t Just “Sign”… Communicate! Student Guides – 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 – Paid Online Version (Optional) – We also offer paid versions of these online classes. With the paid versions, you get access to all the Start ASL lessons and activities in a more organized and easy-to-follow format, with no advertisements, the ability to watch the videos in slower motion, a forum and live chatroom, 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 Class – Offline Version (Optional) – The Start ASL online classes are available as an instant download. This one file contains all of the video lessons in one professional-style video as well as the lessons, workbook, and online readings. 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 don’t like the advertisements in the lessons!
  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. The lists include a link to videos for the words that are required to take the courses. If you wish to learn more than is required, you can look up the remainder of the vocabulary words in your printed ASL dictionary, or on one of the many ASL dictionary websites. You can also download the ASL 1 Vocab Study Sheet for easier studying.
  • 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.

ME LIKE RICE
“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.

YESTERDAY MOM GO-to STORE
“Mom went to the store yesterday.”

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

HER NAME S-U-Z-Y
HER NAME fs-SUZY
“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 ARRIVE #EARLY!
“She arrived very early.”

Ok, enough of my rambling…


Comments

  1. Dawn Paul

    I have been looking everywhere to learn sign language. I have been deaf in one ear since the age of 4 (I am 42 now), the other ear is going quite fast, with intermittent complete deafness.

    My problem is that I cannot afford to take courses due to being unable to work for several reasons. No one offers in-person classes around here. I am afraid that very soon I am going to be unable to communicate at all due to complete deafness and it scares me.

    1. Michelle Jay

      Hi Dawn, Thank you so much for sharing! It sounds like you’d be a perfect fit for our free classes, then. I hope you find them useful on your journey!

  2. Brendie

    Recently, someone suggested I learn ASL because I have a hard time explaining what I mean. I am hard of hearing. Hearing aids in both ears.

  3. Angie

    I am so very greatful to have found your class. I can fingerspell and know some other signs. I know just enough to get through a conversation however it is sometimes difficult. I wanted to become more fluent and know more so I’m not “just getting through”. I will become very helpful since we have several deaf clients where I work. So a coworker and I am going to go through this course together so we can really communicate with our clients. Thanks so much!!

  4. Angie Moran

    I would like to learn more sign for my job. I have learned some over the past 8 month with working with a non verbal client who knows sign. Also a half deaf client who has been teaching me some sign. I take them to the NEHD for work and all of the residents are either half deaf or completely deaf. I have enjoyed learning what I have and want to expand on this and maybe incorporate it in with a different job possibly.

  5. Dorian price

    I want to expand my knowledge in the work force by being able to affectively communicate with the deaf. Signing is hard to come by in most businesses.

  6. Makayla Boles

    i want to learn sign language because my baby sister had disabilities, so i want to offer her more, and also get a job the has to do with ASL. also im in high school and it would give me something to do.

  7. Olivia Courtney

    I want to learn how to sign because i would like to expand n my communication with others, and because i would like to become a teacher. I feel like more opportunities will be available with this language. Also I’ve been told im very expressive with my hands LOL

  8. Katie

    I want to learn sign language becuse my son is deaf and hasn’t taken well to his choclear implant.. me and his teachers agree that sign language will be his primary language, I already know some sign but it’s not enough.

  9. Mo Ellison

    I’d like to learn ASL to enhance my skills and prepare me for a career in sign language interpretation. I figured this Start ASL course would be a good starter as I am waiting to officially become a resident in my state (I just moved here) so that I can go to the school near me that offers the degree! So excited for what’s in store!

  10. Rebeca

    I have been intrigued by ASL since I was little, but never was serious about it until recently. Now I have a good friend who is deaf that lives just around the block from me. We go to the same church, which doesn’t have an interpreter. I’d love to informally fill that gap so she can feel even more welcomed!

  11. Carolyne Carlson

    I want to learn ASL because I can help if there is a need and as a retired registered nurse
    I can volunteer in hospital and again help.

  12. Sandy

    My first grader has some deaf children in her class. I would really like to help her learn ASL and maybe make some new friends.

  13. Nicole

    I learned a little bit of ASL when I was much younger to try to teach my best friend who was partially deaf and want to learn more so I may expand my ministry and also teach others who have friends and relatives who are deaf to communicate better.

  14. Sarah

    I want to learn ASL because I was taught some by an old friend I had who was deaf and I want to be able to communicate with anyone I meet no matter what language they speak

  15. Maria Sena

    I. I want to learn ASL because at 41 years old I was just diagnosed with Sensorineural Hearing Loss Bilateral and am getting a hearing aid evaluation. Plus I work at a high school so it would not only benefit me but my students as well.

  16. Karla Gutierrez

    I want to learn ASL becuase I start watching this serie and there are some deaf people and I felt curious about it and is amazing how they express themselves without talking, with a different form of communication, just with their hands and gestures and its just so beautiful all this.

  17. Imaan Whitman

    I want to learn asl because it’s a beautiful language and I need to expand my mind to something new.

  18. carol

    As a church volunteer, I want to express, interpret thru sign language to people present while the Mass is being said. I saw a priest saying the Mass partly by signing and that gave me the intention of learning this art full way of expression.

  19. DeAnn

    I want to learn sign language for future experiences and out reach opportunities. It’s very unique and interesting, especially the people that use it.

  20. Jessica

    I have been learning little amounts of asl for over a year now. I want to expand what I know because I feel as if hearing people should help out the deaf community more then they do.

  21. Nicole Cesena

    I want to learn ASL because of my job (RSA), also I’m working on my my credentials for special ed mild moderate.

  22. Alicia Madura

    I want my husband and I to learn ASL together. Years ago my best friend was deaf, so I am definitely ahead of my husband, but it couldn’t hurt to brush up. Having five kids makes it difficult to have private conversations, especially when three of them are special needs and the content of our discussions is commonly weighing out the pros and cons of their treatments.

  23. Kristen Cona

    HI name is Kristen Cona, i know sign language when I was 5yrs.old and i want to learn more cause i work publix and sometimes they will have customer who is deaf and non one can help me cause they dont know what they saying to them so i go and help them cause i know sign language pretty well but i want to learn more about it so i can help others kids and I want to teach sign language other kids who aren’t deaf at all.

  24. tammy johns

    i’m interested in taking some asl classes to brush up on my skills. I taught myself how to sign since 4th
    grade. And whate else encourgaged me to brush up on them is nyle from dancing with the stars plus i work in a
    resturant where i have deaf people come in to order and eat. plus i would also like to make a career out of
    being a asl tutor.

  25. Julia Cheatham-Kimble

    I completed a basic ASL course provided by my church last fall. I would like to keep learning about this language to enhance my role as a registered nurse and because I have a relative who is deaf.

  26. RICARDO RIVERA

    I would like to learn ASL just because it’s a beautiful language and expand my ministry in church.