Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A to Z - American Sign Language

This spells love!  
I found this image on Google.  The blog it was on no longer exist so no link, sorry!

The A to Z challenge means we have to blog each day (except Sundays) for each letter of the alphabet, so today the letter is A.  I immediately thought of American Sign Language.  :D  For those of you who might not know I'll share a little about why I love ASL and why I'm learning it and also how I'm learning it.

My older brother has cerebral palsy and can't speak, so he uses sign language to communicate.  He can't use full sentences, but he knows the names of things in sign language, so I've been exposed to it since birth.  When I was a kid my parents had a book that was like a dictionary for Signed English that I used to self teach myself.  Signed English is different from American Sign Language.  It has a sign for every word including words like "and" or "is" that you string together exactly how we speak English.  This is slow and not efficient at all.  American Sign Language is the recognized signed language and it drops those little words and makes every flow easier and faster.  It also makes it more difficult to learn for people like me who have never learned any other language besides English.

When I was a kid I would study the Signed English dictionary and teach myself how to sign words.  Unfortunately my memory has never been fabulous so I came up with a creative way to remember words.  I learned songs in sign language!!  I can still sign them even today, but eventually I read about ASL and decided I wanted to learn it so that I could hopefully communicate in sign language with other people someday.  At first it really confused me because of the sentence structure changes, but I found a really awesome website called Lifeprint (here is the LINK).  It has free video lessons!!  Very cool!  One way that the videos have been very helpful is for teaching me to understand ASL when someone else is signing.  I always learned it on my own as a kid so I knew how to do the signs, but not how to "read" them when someone else was signing to me.  I'm getting much better at recognizing signs when other people use them from the videos.  I still wish I had someone to practice with in person though.

At first the lessons can be a little difficult to get the hang of because there is no sound at all.  They do not speak, but once you've learned a few words it gets easier.  I was lucky because I already knew most of the words in the first one or two videos so it let me get the hang of it easier.  I'm now on video six or seven and I know close to 150 signs (probably more, but I can't remember haha!).  :D  I'm really excited since learning American Sign Language (ASL) is on my 30 Before 30 list.  I need to get busy practicing!

So if you've ever wanted to learn ASL or are just interested in it I hope this post helped and I hope you enjoy looking through the website I linked.  I am not advertising that website because I get anything from them, I just mentioned it because it's been very helpful for me and it's free!


  1. good luck on A to Z. You've kicked it off with an interesting post.

  2. wonderful idea- I'll be checking in all month!

  3. Wow! I'd love to learn more than the random signs I know, so thanks for the site! I'll definitely be checking it out. Sounds sort of like the Rosetta Stone of ASL. Great first A to Z post!

  4. ASL is such a good thing to know, unfortunately I know very (very) little.

    Stopping by from the a-z link!

  5. When I was a teacher's aide, I worked with a student with cerebral palsy. I wish I had thought of working out some sign language with him. One day I got so busy that I forgot to give him his mid-morning snack. He was so upset that he was screaming and beating his mouth with the back of his hand. Everyone knew something was wrong, but he couldn't tell us what. When I found his snack in the fridge at lunch, I apologized profusely.

  6. I would really like to learn sign language :) And I also self taught myself a little when I was a child. It was a very old book and I think the sign language has changed since but I still remember almost all the alphabets.


  7. ASL is an amazing language. I think that's a great way for you to communicate with your brother too! I learned to sign, (both ASL and SEE) when I was a kid.

  8. I think that's awesome that you are learning ASL. In New Zealand we have a different sign language and it always amuses me that sign language is as different around the world as spoken languages.

  9. Thanks for all of the comments guys!!

    NuzMuz, that is so cool that you worked with a student that had cerebral palsy! Knowing some sign language definitely makes it easier to communicate!! My brother knows the signs for eat, drink, pain, mom, dad, phone, etc. but he also does a lot of pointing and we do a lot of guessing lol. Since I've known him my entire life I can usually guess what he wants really quickly though. It would definitely be more difficult with a student that you aren't around all day, every day.

  10. Wonderful, interesting post. Good luck with A to Z.


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