Learning American Sign Language or ASL is just like learning any new language. It takes time, effort, and repetition to master the vocabulary needed to communicate effectively. Luckily there are a vast number of resources and available information on ASL to help you become fluent. From modern methods that embrace technology to traditional techniques that use proven methods, you are sure to find a resource or two that will meet your needs.
Modern Learning Resources
Modern technology has brought us some great resources for learning languages, and American Sign Language is no exception. Using online sources and mobile apps can help you learn and practice ASL.
- Online: From websites to ASL blogs to YouTube channels, there is a ton of information online dedicated to helping you achieve mastery. A huge number of videos exist, covering everything from the alphabet to basic communication to advanced vocabulary. Check out YouTube channels like this one or search for ASL on YouTube.
- Mobile: There are many free and paid apps available on both Android and iPhone platforms to help you learn ASL. You can choose from top-rated apps like ProDeaf Translator, ASL Fingerspelling, and more. With options ranging from visual dictionaries to interactive quizzes, you’re sure to find something that will appeal to your learning style. Plus, apps let you take your learning with you, so you are more likely to find time to work on it.
Traditional Learning Methods
If you’re looking for a more traditional resource for mastering ASL, taking classes or reading books on the subject might be what you’re looking for.
- Classes: A variety of venues offer classes on American Sign Language. Colleges, community programs, and training programs are available in most major cities. Classes offer an opportunity to learn from a qualified instructor and collaborate with other learners. For help finding a class, check out the National Association of the Deaf’s
- Books: There are also a lot of ASL books available in both print versions and as e-books. As a bonus, look for a book that comes with a DVD, so you get a chance to see the associated movements. The website Start American Sign Language has put together a list of their favorite ASL learning books.
Social Learning Options
With any language, studying alone will only take you so far with ASL. As you increase your vocabulary and build fluency, it is important to find opportunities to test out your skills in the real world. Social learning options can help you accomplish this goal. You can use several methods to find a practice partner.
- Using Social Media: Social networking sites give you the opportunity to connect with a larger group of people. On many sites, it is possible to join groups based on similar interests, and you can find many groups on ASL. Both Facebook and Google+ offer groups like these where you are sure to meet someone you can work with ASL on via video messaging.
- In-Person Options: You can also meet people local to you to practice your ASL skills with. Look for a study buddy at a local ASL class, attend events frequented by the deaf community, or try volunteering with someone just beginning to learn ASL.