Ten Fun Ways to Learn American Sign Language (ASL)
Besides opening up new possibilities for interacting with the Deaf and Hard-of-hearing (D/HoH) community, choosing to learn American Sign Language (ASL) has many other benefits. For instance, it increases signers’ awareness of their facial expressions and body language, which can be helpful in social interactions. Also, knowing how to communicate in ASL can make hearing people more sensitive to the needs of the Deaf and Hard of hearing. Adults and children can quickly become proficient in the language when the learning process includes fun activities.
With this in mind, check out these ten enjoyable and effective ways to learn American Sign Language. By using one or more of these techniques, you can improve your ASL comprehension, practice signing in low-stress entertaining ways, and gain a rewarding and helpful new skill.
Participate in Online ASL Classes
Many classes featuring video lessons to learn American Sign Language are accessible online through websites like Start ASL. The content of these classes is designed for people of all ages who want to learn American Sign Language in a convenient, highly interactive format. Learners include:
- Deaf and Hard-of-hearing people
- Parents and siblings of Deaf or Hard-of-hearing children
- Other members of the community
Considering the hectic pace of today’s society, juggling all the items on your daily schedule is no doubt getting harder. But when you learn American Sign Language online, you can become proficient at signing without disrupting your routine.
Another great advantage of online classes is that they permit you to learn American Sign Language at your own pace. In a classroom with many students, the instructor can’t always stop teaching to ensure you fully understand the topic. However, when using an online ASL tutorial, you can pause and rewind the video as often as you like until you feel comfortable about moving forward.
Create or Join a Practice Group to Learn American Sign Language
Another option is forming or joining an American Sign Language practice group where you can apply your skills with others in real time. You can do so through a social media platform that’s designed for organizing or joining face-to-face and virtual gatherings. There you’ll be able to hook up with other students, teachers, and fluent signers eager to interact with you in ASL and help you hone your skills.
Join ASL Video Chats
American Sign Language chat rooms are meant to support learners through assistive ASL discussions that increase their confidence and proficiency. In ASL chats, Deaf, Hard-of-hearing, and hearing friends and strangers find others who share their values and life experiences. The participants interact with new and old acquaintances about culture, religion, work, the Deaf/HoH lifestyle, ASL issues, and more. In this way, many American Sign Language users develop relationships that last a lifetime.
Sign up for a Local Silent Dinner Event
At a silent dinner, you’ll have to rely on your American Sign Language skills to order meals and converse with others. These occasions foster networking, socialization, and American Sign Language use in public settings. The dinners occur at different designated restaurants on a recurring schedule. Deaf and Hard-of-hearing people gather together to eat dinner and chat with one another in ASL. The restaurants are rotated monthly, so you can check the events calendar of your local D/HoH community group to find the next silent dinner near you. RSVPs usually are not required to attend these gatherings.
Watching ASL Movies Will Help You Learn American Sign Language
Watching movies in ASL is easy with tools like the SignUp extension available through Google Chrome. SignUp allows users to overlay sign language interpretation videos onto Netflix and Disney+ videos. In addition, the extension incorporates American Sign Language and British Sign Language (BSL) interpretation into these streaming platforms. This program makes captioning more accessible to Deaf/HoH viewers. Besides being a tool for media accessibility, SignUp also enhances the learning process for ASL and BSL students.
What’s more, it’s a fun way for both children and adults to enjoy mainstream movies and learn American Sign Language or BSL at the same time. You can take advantage of SignUp by watching movies alone or by organizing an American Sign Language movie night for a group of friends or family members. This way, you’ll create an entertaining and immersive learning experience for everyone.
Use ASL Flashcards
Using flashcards may seem like a tedious and repetitive way to learn American Sign Language, but it’s actually quite effective. Flashcards stimulate active recall, self-reflection, and spaced repetition (i.e., spacing out your learning over time). When appropriately used, flashcards are valuable lesson materials. With well-made flashcards, you can speed up your ability to learn American Sign Language. Create cards with signs on one side and vocabulary words on the other, then review them regularly.
Play Interactive American Sign Language Games
What’s another way to have a good time while studying and practicing ASL? Charades, Pictionary, ASL bingo, and speed-signing challenges are entertaining games that challenge you and others to more quickly and effectively learn American Sign Language.
Singing Popular Songs Using ASL Signs Will Also Help You Learn American Sign Language
Sign singing, also known as Karaoke signing, is the practice of singing through a sign language such as ASL. A song is typically played in sign singing, and the performer performs an expressive sign language version of the lyrics. While vocal singers use pitch and tone when conveying words, sign singers rely on their hands, body, and facial expressions.
Incorporate ASL Conversations into Your Everyday Life
You’ll be amazed at how much easier it is to learn American Sign Language when you regularly sign in day-to-day interactions with family members, friends, and coworkers. Other ideal times to communicate in ASL are during visits to movie theaters and libraries. You may feel the urge to chat while watching a movie, but you may also feel hesitant to make noise in the theater. At these times, signing is an option. Or, if you like the peace and quiet of the library to work on team projects, ASL can be your go-to communication tool.
Otherwise, what if you’re standing outside the house with muddy boots on and want to talk to someone inside without making a mess in the hallway? American Sign Language is your solution! And, if you’re scuba diving in the ocean or just swimming in the backyard pool, communicating underwater is effortless with ASL. Signing can make these and countless other day-to-day scenarios easier and more enjoyable.
Immerse Yourself in Deaf Culture
It’s exciting to learn American Sign Language and even more exciting to use it in real life by getting involved in the Deaf and Hard-of-hearing culture. One way to do so is to attend social events, theater shows, and workshops created by native signers. An example of such a show is the Broadway production of Children of a Lesser God produced by Deaf model, actor, activist, and ambassador for the Deaf Nyle DiMarco.
To get information on such shows and other Deaf social events in your area, you can join a Deaf group on Facebook. Deaf people regularly use Facebook as a means to spread information about Deaf activities. There you’ll be able to learn about all the D/HoH happenings in your area.
And if you have D/HoH friends or family members, you can ask about going with them to socials. Deaf socials are ideal environments in which to learn American Sign Language by giving and receiving information. When you participate in socials, you naturally become involved in real-life dialogues and thus gain a deeper understanding of ASL and Deaf culture. You can also join Social ASL, a community app where you can meet and connect with fellow signers.
After studying these tips, you’ll have plenty of ideas about becoming fluent in American Sign Language and expanding your knowledge of the Deaf and Hard-of-hearing community.