BY YOHANA DESTAOCT 10, 2018
Learning to sign is easier than ever, thanks to the internet.
The visual language, designed to aid the deaf or hard of hearing, is a set of gesticulations and hand movements that correspond to the spoken word.
There are numerous ways to learn American Sign Language (ASL) outside the old classroom method. From free online lessons to video tutorials, a world of possibilities is open for those aspiring to teach themselves this hands-on language.
1. YouTube videos
One of the easiest ways to learn sign language is through YouTube tutorials. The video hosting site has dozens of teachers who give free lessons on how to sign the alphabet, common phrases, numbers, and more.
Here are a few places to start:
- Dr. Bill Vicars: The hard of hearing ASL expert has numerous degrees in deaf-centric studies, according to his bio on Lifeprint. His love of the language is evident on his YouTube page, which hosts a plethora of ASL lessons.
- Expert Village: The YouTube channel is home to lessons on pretty much anything, and is a great source of ASL videos for beginners. There’s an extensive series on common phrases, letters of the alphabet, and more.
- Laura Berg Life: This channel, previously called “My Smart Hands,” is especially great because it was designed with teaching ASL to both adults and young children in mind. It offers videos that share how to sign temperatures, common phrases, read names, and more. Some videos are even dedicated to answering viewer questions.
2. Web resources
Outside of YouTube, the internet also offers a plethora of resources for those looking to learn sign language, including quizzes, courses, and more. Here are three helpful options to consider.
- ASL Pro: Don’t let the site’s old school appearance fool you. ASL Pro is a free tool with a wealth of quizzes, fingerspelling practices, and a super detailed dictionary complete with video examples for learning how to sign hundreds of words.
- Start ASL: This online resource offers a variety of courses for those interested in learning sign language. There’s a free three-level course that offers workbooks and activities, along with fingerspelling lessons. And if you’re looking for more advanced ASL learning, the site also offers additional paid courses, both online and office, created and taught by professional ASL instructors.
- SignASL.org: This online ASL Dictionary is the perfect place to search for words and phrases and learn their corresponding signs. Simply type in a term and the site will show you a selection of ASL videos and resources from trusted websites to choose from.
You can also keep a sign language lesson in your very own pocket by downloading an app onto your smartphone. On-the-go ASL lessons can help you stay refreshed on little things and come in hand when you need to look something up. Not to mention, apps that teach sigh language will let you study any time, anywhere.
There’s a variety of sign language apps available for popular Apple devices, Android devices, and more, but here are a few recommendations if you’re struggling to decide how to learn ASL.
- ASL Coach: This free iOS app keeps things short and sweet, teaching you how to master the sign language alphabet.
- ASL: Fingerspelling: The $3.99 iOS app from ASL resource Lifeprint helps gets users up to speed on their fingerspelling techniques.
- Marlee Signs: Oscar-winning deaf actress Marlee Matlin is also in on the app game. Marlee Signs is free for iOS and teaches ASL with video lessons and fingerspelling practice.
Want to test out your skills? We learned the ASL alphabet and gave fingerspelling a shot. Can you figure out what we spelt? Answer below.
Additional reporting by Nicole Gallucci. This story was originally published in 2014 and updated in 2018.