How to Learn Sign Language
Sign language can be learned by anyone. This can easily be done in the comfort of home utilizing the many free resources and classes available online and in your local community. American Sign Language (ASL) is using visual cues for communication instead of using sounds. Facial expressions, hand orientation, hand shapes, and hand movements are each used as a form of communication with others. Anyone curious as to how to learn sign language can do so in their free time. Everything they need to know will be incorporated in the (ASL) classes they choose to participate in.
Sign language is typically used by those who are deaf or by those who work as an interpreter. There are various types of sign language a person can learn such as (ASL), which has legal recognition. Other versions may have no legal status. This is why it is important for those wanting to know how to learn sign language to know the legal status of the sign language version being looked into. Those seeking (how to learn sign language) classes should know that learning sign language is just as difficult as learning any language other than their own. The linguistic components heard when speaking cannot be found when signing. There are five elements used in sign. These elements are hand shape, orientation, location, movement, and facial expressions and the elements form an acronym; HOLME.
The sign language alphabet can be done manually but when a person is learning sign language words are not spelled out. Signing grammar may be frustrating for students because it is very different from speaking. Most deaf individuals can write and read oral languages because sign language is complex and therefore writing it is not used. Whether a person is learning to sign because they are deaf, a friend or family member is deaf, or they simply want to learn as a means to communicate with a wider audience, it is a valuable skill for a person to have. Which method will prove to be the best will vary from student to student and it will take a little effort to determine which tools and resources will best suit your individual needs.
A classroom setting is a great method to learn sign language as the student will be given immediate feedback. They will also learn with others at their level. The main problem with this method is that it may be difficult to find a class in your local community. There may be courses available at community colleges or centers but the best option for classes will be if there is a school for the deaf close by. Online courses can offer convenience and flexibility. A student can learn at their own speed and these courses are typically cheaper than traditional courses. Many will also offer free sign language courses and if taken at a university, a student will be given continuing education credits.
Learning sign language takes persistence and practice and the fastest way to learn is to immerse in learning fully. Practicing each day and finding a friend to help will prove to be beneficial as well. In time, the brain will make the necessary connection while signing and the student will be signing fluently. When this point is reached, the student will still need to practice on a consistent basis as to not lose the new knowledge and skill they have learned. There are websites and computer course which provide the sign language alphabet to help a person get started in their studies. The sign language alphabet is just the basics of sign language and is often taught in grade school. Another great online resource that can be used to learn the basics is the sign language dictionary. The sign language dictionary allows a person to choose a word and see how the word is communicated using sign language through a short video. A recommended sign language dictionary found online is Sign Savvy. Many states offer classes because there is a high need for interpreters. Another great way to learn is through involvement with the deaf community.
The following links will provide more resources and information on how to learn sign language.
- Sign Language Browser
- Signing as a Second Language
- Signing History
- National Association of the Deaf
- American Sign Language Teachers Association
- World Association of Sign Language Interpreters
- American Public Health Association
- State Regulations for Interpreters
- Where Can I Learn Signing?
- Information on Loss of Hearing
- Signing Frequently Asked Questions
- Basic Signing