8 Tips for Learning Sign Language

Are you looking to learn sign language?  Sign Language or ASL is a system of communication using visual gestures and signs, commonly used by the hearing impaired as well as interpreters. When trying to learn  sign language, you should treat it with the same respect and expectations you would if you were learning any foreign spoken language.

Before you go on the voyage of learning American Sign Language (ASL), check out these 8 helpful tips for learning sign language:

  1. sign-languageFingerspelling: Fingerspelling, while not used in common conversations in ASL, is essential for spelling out words you don’t know the sign for. Check out this guide for details on how to fingerspell each letter of the alphabet.
  2. Sign Language Dictionary: Dictionaries are critical tools for learning any language, and ASL is no exception. A good dictionary will allow you to look up signs you don’t understand, as well as give you something to study. HINT: Look for a dictionary with easy-to-understand illustrations and descriptions or download an app on your smartphone, to make things easier.
  3. Continuous Review: When learning any language, it helps to build a strong foundation of vocabulary, and keep on continually growing it. So take time each day to review words you already know, and then add some new vocabulary into the mix.
  4. Draw the Sign: Just as writing down words helps us to remember them, drawing different signs will help you in understanding and memorizing their distinctions. Try drawing each new sign you learn five times, and also writing its spoken English translation next to it.
  5. Find Your Dominant Hand: Just like with writing, eating and playing sports, sign language requires you to use one hand much more often than the other. To make things less confusing for your deaf and hard of hearing friends, be sure you pick one dominant hand and stick to it, rather than switching things up in the middle of conversation.
  6. sign-language-classesTake a Sign Language Class: Taking a sign language call will help you dramatically in your quest to learn this language. A classroom setting will give you multiple people to practice signing with, as well as feedback on your performance. Many colleges will allow you to take a class without enrolling. Check with your local school to see what programs they might offer. Also, community programs such as local libraries and recreational centers will often offer ASL classes for those that are interested.
  7. Mnemonic Techniques & other Creative Memory Tricks: If you simply cannot remember the sign for a particular word, coming up with a creative memory trick might help. Some people like wordplay, while others like to break down the sign into a few easier motions. Find whatever technique works best for you, and then use it when necessary.
  8. Immersion: Finally, once you feel confident enough to engage in simple conversation, you ought to test your skills by meeting with as many fellow ASL speakers as possible. Your community likely has groups and clubs for deaf and hard of hearing people, and those clubs will often allow hearing people to join in if they can communicate using ASL. Make sure you take advantage of these helpful resources.

American Sign Language is like any other language, your skill level will depend on your learning environment, educational resources and of course, your willingness to learn. No matter what approach you take, it’s very important to keep practicing. If you or a loved one is suffer from hearing loss and have questions about ASL or anything related to hearing care or hearing aids, don’t hesitate to contact us today. The hearing care professionals at Whisper Hearing are ready to help you.