10 easy methods to learn sign language (with tips!) (2023)

In the hearing losscommunity, sign language is one of the major forms of communication used.

It consists of hand movements, hand shapes as well as facial expressions and lip patterns in order to demonstrate what people want to say.

Sign language is often used instead of spoken language in Deaf communities, as some people with hearing loss have been brought up solely using sign language to communicate with family or friends.Of course, even those with normal or limited hearing can also learn this wonderful, expressive language!

Here are my tips to learn sign language:

Types of sign language

The first thing to understand is what type of sign language you want to learn. This will most likely be based on where you live, and what verbal language is spoken in your community. Hand signs can vary based on the type of sign language being used. For example, there is American Sign Language (ASL), British Sign Language (BSL) and various others, based on different languages.

In general, sign language is grouped into three sections :

  • Deaf sign languages: The preferred languages of Deaf communities around the world; including village sign languages, shared with the hearing community, andDeaf-community sign languages
  • Auxiliary sign languages: Sign systems used alongside oral, spoken languages.
  • Signed modes of spoken languages, or manually coded languages: Used to bridge signed and spoken languages

How to learn sign language

10 easy methods to learn sign language (with tips!) (1)

Take a sign language class

If you’re ever considering learning sign language, this is one of the best ways to do it! Often community centers, community colleges or other educational centers offer day or evening classes. Qualified sign language tutors canhelp you work toward sign language qualifications. Classes are also a great way to meet new people and see the signs face-to-face.

(Video) 25 ASL Signs You Need to Know | ASL Basics | American Sign Language for Beginners

There are also online classes. Some of my HearingLikeMe writers have taken classes with ASL For You and have learned a lot through weekly Zoom classes.

Being in a class gives the opportunity to practice signing with different people. It is considered a good investment if the qualification leads to a job!

If you’re interested, research for classes in your local area or contact your local education authority.

Learn online by watching videos

Like many things these days, you can learn easily online!There are plenty of resources, like YouTube or BSL Zone where you can watch videos with sign language. Any form of video is a great way to watch and you can replay it as many times as you like, in the comfort of your own home.

Read more:Easily learn sign language by studying these GIFs

Join a sign language group, deaf club or visit a deaf café

Many cities have deaf clubs or groups of deaf people who meet regularly and quite often use sign language as their form of communication. It’s a fantastic place to meet new people, who share hearing loss in common as well as the chance to polish your sign language skills. You can contact a Deaf charity or organization nearby, or search for a group using websites such asMeetup.comto find a group for you.

Take an online course

Online courses can be an alternative to day or evening classes that you take in-person. Some Deaf organizations and universities provide these, so do some research to find the best course for you. For example, Gallaudet University has a free online course to learn ASL.

Online courses are more flexible because they can be done in your own time, or in the comfort of your own home. You can practice as much as you need, and there is often no pressure to complete it.

Hire a private, qualified sign language tutor

If you want to learn sign language quickly, a private tutor could be the best way. Research local, qualified sign language tutors in your area who are willing to offer private tuition. Courses could be done in one-to-one sessions, or in small groups of your choice. You may find a private tutor more of a benefit if you find a large class environment is too difficult to learn in.

(Video) 20+ Basic Sign Language Phrases for Beginners | ASL

Watch and mimic interpreters

You can easily pick up signs by watching others, particularly sign language interpreters. You can often find them at deaf events or on TV during special, live events. Some TV shows also utilize sign language, such as “Switched at Birth.”

Ask your Deaf friends and family teach you

Asking a Deaf friend to teach you some sign language isa great way of making new Deaf friends! If you know friends or family use sign language already, asking them to teach you some signs will also remove some stresses from the struggle of oral/spoken conversation with them – making the exchange beneficial for both of you.

Just make sure your friend or family member uses sign language before asking them, as not all people who have hearing loss know sign language.

Read more: Why I’m learning sign language as an “orally” profound deafie

Use an App

There are also a few apps available to learn sign language on!

My favorite is the‘Sign BSL’ app,which is a British Sign Language Dictionary app. If you don’t know how to sign a word, you can search for it on the app so it’s a great resource.

There are also great apps for ASL learners. The languagelearning platform, Drops, released ASL on their Scripts app in conjunction with the United Nations’ International Day of Sign LanguagesThe appteaches learners how to read and write alphabets and character-based language systems.

Drops’ ASL offering on Scripts is free for 5 minutes a day, allowing anyone with the Scripts app the ability to quickly learn the ASL alphabet. By associating illustrations of the signs to their meanings and testing users through fun, 5-minute games, Drops is bringing their acclaimed learning approach to an even broader audience and leveraging its global, multi-million user base to bring global awareness and access to ASL.

Read a Book

If you’re not a fan of online learning, there are plenty of books available at bookshops and libraries. There are varieties from Sign Language dictionaries, books for children, step by step learning and so much more!

(Video) 5 Tips To Help You Learn Sign Language: tricks to make ASL easier to learn

These, however, may be more difficult to learn from, as the movements for the signs are not as obvious to see, in contrast to watching a video.

Watch a video/DVD

Yet another suggestion is watching a video or DVD or pre-recorded sign language learning video. Some organizations have created videos or DVDs especially to help you learn the language properly. If you’re not sure which one to get, why not contact a Deaf organization or visit your local library.

A few more tips to learn sign language

Once you’ve found your preferred language learning method, you need to be aware of a few things to successfully use sign language.

  • Facial expressions are key:Deaf people use facial expressions to determine the mood of the conversation or topic. It also brings more character to the sign language. Don’t be afraid to beexpressive, as the teacher or video learner will show you.
  • Utilize real-life situations:Real-life exchanges with other people who know sign language will help you learn more quickly! Join social groups to help you practice.
  • You’ll need qualifications to be professional: If you want to be an interpreter, you’ll need further qualifications. Talk to your professors or community deaf groups for more information.
  • Practice your fingerspelling! Fingerspelling isquite simple, and an easy way to communicate with deaf people without memorizing all the word phrases. Even a little bit of sign language will be beneficial when communicating with deaf people!

Now that you’ve got a basis on how to learn sign language, I hope you can find local or onlineresources to do so! Remember to have fun while learning, and communicate with other sign language users. You will be well on your way to make new friends, communicate with others and grow your own language comprehension!

  • Author Details

10 easy methods to learn sign language (with tips!) (2)

Author Details

Ellie was born profoundly deaf, uses verbal communication, lipreads and wears Phonak Sky Q hearing aids. She is currently learning British Sign Language. Ellie hasn’t let her disability stand in the way and embraces every new challenge. Her deafness didn’t prevent her from achieving major accomplishments in her life, such as excelling in her education, previously working as a Marketing Executive and now as an Events Coordinator for a deaf organization, as well as blogging for Hearing Like Me. She is passionate about deaf awareness, campaigning for equality and helping others through her personal blog as Deafie Blogger.

(Video) What is the best approach to learning ASL? | Tips on how to learn sign language as fast as possible


What are the 5 strategies of learning ASL? ›

  • What are the 5 strategies for learning ASL. -Build a language community. ...
  • Build a language community. Don't miss class.
  • Minimize reliance on English. Leave your voice outside the door.
  • Focus on meaning rather than individual signs. ...
  • Focus on signers face, not on the hands. ...
  • Show you understand the signer.

Can I teach myself ASL? ›

All in all, it is not really possible to teach yourself ASL. If you want to start holding meaningful conversations in ASL, you will need formal instruction and practice. However, it is possible to learn basics like the ASL alphabet to get a head start.

What is the method of sign language? ›

Sign language is a way of communicating using hand gestures and movements, body language and facial expressions, instead of spoken words. Like any spoken language, such as Italian or Spanish, there are lots of different sign languages across the world.

What should I learn first in sign language? ›

It is vital to learn the ASL alphabet when you start out with American Sign Language. Knowing the alphabet will give you the skill to sign any word. So, if you forget a sign you can simply spell it. To become better at fingerspelling, try to spell objects you see around yourself like C-O-M-P-U-T-E-R or T-R-E-E.

How can I practice my sign? ›

8 Essential Tips for Signing
  1. Know the alphabet. When learning anything, it's essential to start with the basics. ...
  2. Relax your hands. Some people claim that they "talk with their hands". ...
  3. Be clear in your form. ...
  4. Practice on camera. ...
  5. Watch others. ...
  6. Use facial expressions. ...
  7. Take classes. ...
  8. Practice everywhere!

What are the 11 strategies to handle weak learners? ›

What you can do to help your child
  • Provide a quiet work/study area. ...
  • Keep assignments and homework sessions short. ...
  • Be accessible. ...
  • Ask questions such as 'what does that word mean? ...
  • Read to your child.
  • Be patient and consistent.
  • Do not allow them to give up on their work or themselves. ...
  • Don't be overprotective.
27 Oct 2017

How many words are in ASL? ›

About 10,000 different ASL signs exist that corresponds to English, which has about 200,000 words. How much do ASL interpreters make?

Is ASL easier than English? ›

As with anything new, learning a language takes time, patience, and hard work. Some have the misconseption that learning ASL is easier than learning a spoken language. This is incorrect. Experts estimate that it takes 3-4 years to become fluent in a new language on average.

What is the hand signal for I Love You? ›

To sign I love you in American Sign Language (ASL), point out your thumb and index finger to form an “L”. While keeping them extended, lift your little finger. Your middle and ring finger keep touching your palm. Finally, direct your hand towards the person you are talking to.

What are the 3 types of sign language? ›

Not a Universal Language

Interestingly, most countries that share the same spoken language do not necessarily have the same sign language as each other. English for example, has three varieties: American Sign Language (ASL), British Sign Language (BSL) and Australian Sign Language (Auslan).

What is basic sign language? ›

Just like how we see English words as the arrangement of letters, there are five basic sign language elements that make up each sign. The five elements are: handshape, movement, palm orientation, location, and facial expression.

What are the four strategies for learning ASL? ›

Strategies for Learning ASL
  • Focus on the signer's face, not on their hands!
  • Strategies for Learning.
  • Focus on meaning rather than individual signs.
  • Leave English, and your voice, outside the classroom!
  • Building a Langauge Community.
  • Show that you understand the signer.

How long does sign take to learn? ›

Overall, it can take several years of regular study and practice to become fluent in sign language. It may take from three months to three years to learn sign language. Moreover, it's all about your learning goal setting, and it all depends on your end goal.

What is the most useful sign language? ›

ASL, short for American Sign Language, is the sign language most commonly used by the Deaf and Hard of Hearing people in the United States.

What skills are needed for sign language? ›

4 Key Skills of a Sign Language Interpreter
  • Knowing every sign perfectly. ...
  • Exceptional observation skills. ...
  • Quick thinking. ...
  • Experience in many fields.
21 Aug 2017

How do you sign better? ›

To sign better, form your dominant hand in an open, curved fashion, with your four fingers held together and your thumb sticking up.

What is the baby sign for poop? ›

The sign for poop is very evocative. You make both hands into fists, holding your non-dominant hand above your dominant. Then with your thumb from your dominant hand, extend it inside the fist of your non-dominant hand. Finally, pull your dominant hand and thumb down and away from your non-dominant hand.

What are the 9 teaching strategies? ›

  • Identifying Similarities and Differences. ...
  • Summarizing and Note Taking. ...
  • Reinforcing Effort and Providing Recognition. ...
  • Homework and Practice. ...
  • Nonlinguistic Representations. ...
  • Cooperative Learning. ...
  • Setting Objectives and Providing Feedback. ...
  • Generating and Testing Hypotheses.

What are the 10 instructional materials? ›

Examples of instructional materials include: Traditional resources: Textbooks, reference books, lesson plans, workbooks, flashcards, charts and supplemental reading materials. Graphic and interactive materials: Physical objects, photographs, illustrations, charts, graphs, maps, multimedia, movies and games.

What are the 6 learning strategies? ›

Specifically, six key learning strategies from cognitive research can be applied to education: spaced practice, interleaving, elaborative interrogation, concrete examples, dual coding, and retrieval practice.

What are the 12 learning styles? ›

Understanding the 12 Ways of Learning:

They include visual, auditory, tactile, kinesthetic, sequential, simultaneous, reflective/logical, verbal, interactive, direct experience, indirect experience, and rhythmic/melodic.

How do I learn best? ›

  1. Improve Your Memory. Sam Edwards / Getty Images. ...
  2. Keep Learning New Things. Prasit photo / Getty Images. ...
  3. Learn in Multiple Ways. Hero Images / Getty Images. ...
  4. Teach What You Are Learning. Hero Images / Getty Images. ...
  5. Build on Previous Learning. ...
  6. Gain Practical Experience. ...
  7. Don't Be Afraid to Make Mistakes. ...
  8. Use Distributed Practice.
9 Feb 2022

What are the 3 types of learning? ›

Everyone processes and learns new information in different ways. There are three main cognitive learning styles: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. The common characteristics of each learning style listed below can help you understand how you learn and what methods of learning best fits you.

How can I study smart? ›

Studying 101: Study Smarter Not Harder
  1. Reading is not studying. Simply reading and re-reading texts or notes is not actively engaging in the material. ...
  2. Understand the Study Cycle. ...
  3. Spacing out is good. ...
  4. It's good to be intense. ...
  5. Silence isn't golden. ...
  6. Problems are your friend. ...
  7. Reconsider multitasking. ...
  8. Switch up your setting.

How do you teach slow learners give at least 10 ways? ›

10 Tips for Teaching a Struggling Learner
  1. Teach Through Direct Instruction. ...
  2. Choose an Incremental Approach to Lessons. ...
  3. Understand the Importance of Multisensory Instruction. ...
  4. Give Your Child an Advantage by Teaching the 72 Basic Phonograms. ...
  5. Teach Just One New Concept at a Time. ...
  6. Teach Reliable Rules.

Why do kids struggle in school? ›

Common Causes for Academic Struggles

These might include learning or developmental disorders or mental health conditions like anxiety, social anxiety, or depression. Kids who are ill, who have difficulty sleeping, or who are experiencing stress or trauma at home may all struggle academically.

Is there a Bible in ASL? ›

While other organizations have worked to complete the ASL Bible, the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures has continued their work and have already translated the Bible into an additional 100 sign languages, making it available to deaf and hard of hearing communities around the world.

What is the 1 9 rule in ASL? ›

The Rule of 9 in American Sign Language (ASL) is a term that describes a rule or pattern in numeral incorporation that a number only up to 9 is incorporated with a regular sign, usually related to time with a few exceptions.

What is the 9 rule in ASL? ›

The "Rule of 9" in ASL is a means of incorporating the numbers up to nine with particular concepts into a single sign. Those concepts include: minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and money. Learn all about the Rule of 9 and practice using those number/signs in sentences.

Should I learn ASL or ASL? ›

Should I learn the American sign language or the British sign language? You should learn the Sign Language of the community in which you live. So, if you live in America then clearly American sign language is the way to go. If you live in Britain, learn BSL.

Is ASL worth learning? ›

Knowing ASL gives you a way to build relationships with countless deaf people and a way to enjoy the richness of the Deaf community nationwide. Beyond communicating with deaf friends, ASL is also a surprisingly versatile language.

Which is the hardest language to study? ›

Generally, if you're an English speaker with no exposure to other languages, here are some of the most challenging and difficult languages to learn:
  • Mandarin Chinese.
  • Arabic.
  • Vietnamese.
  • Finnish.
  • Japanese.
  • Korean.

Does this 🤟 mean I love you? ›

🤟 I Love You Gesture emoji

The love-you gesture or I love you hand sign emoji is the American Sign Language gesture for “I love you,” showing a hand with a raised index finger and pinky (little) finger and an extended thumb. It comes in a range of skin tones.

What does this hand mean 🤙? ›

A hand with thumb and little (pinky) finger extended, making a traditional phone-like shape. May be used in conjunction with a face to suggest “call me” (please). Not to be confused with the sign of the horn. Commonly used as a shaka sign, which is a similar gesture at a different orientation.

What does V with two fingers mean? ›

a sign meaning victory or peace that is made by holding up the first two fingers of one hand in the shape of a V, while the thumb and other fingers are folded down and face out.

How do deaf people call 911? ›

To summon the Police using a public pay phone: Dial 911 (no coin re- quired). After dialing, wait four seconds and then start tapping on the mouthpiece of the telephone. Continue tapping for at least 90 seconds, and preferably until the Police arrive.

What are the 5 Elements of sign language? ›

In American Sign Language (ASL), we use the 5 Parameters of ASL to describe how a sign behaves within the signer's space. The parameters are handshape, palm orientation, movement, location, and expression/non-manual signals.

What is Disney in sign language? ›

American Sign Language: "Disneyland"

Also see: Disney Signing. A traditional sign used by many Deaf in the southern California area (who actually live near Disneyland) is done by twisting a "D" on the side of your chin, twice.

What are 5 interesting facts about sign language? ›

Five Interesting Facts Most People Don't Know About Sign Language
  • It's the fourth most used language in the UK. ...
  • Different countries have their own versions of sign language. ...
  • Sign language uses more than just hand gestures. ...
  • Many deaf people have 'name signs' ...
  • Sign language isn't as difficult to learn as it looks.
23 Sept 2021

What is the deaf sign for Hello? ›

How to say “hello” in Sign Language. To perform the sign “hello” in American Sign Language (ASL), simply place the hand you are writing with on your forehead close to your ear and move it outwards and away from your body. Don't forget to smile!

What are the 5 learning strategies? ›

  • The 5 Families – Teaching Strategies. Teaching Strategies are used to create learning environments and to assist students in reaching predetermined learning outcomes. ...
  • Experiential Learning. ...
  • Direct Instruction. ...
  • Indirect Instruction. ...
  • Interactive Instruction. ...
  • Independent Study.

What is the fastest way to learn ASL? ›

  1. Take a sign language class. ...
  2. Learn online by watching videos. ...
  3. Join a sign language group, deaf club or visit a deaf café ...
  4. Take an online course. ...
  5. Hire a private, qualified sign language tutor. ...
  6. Watch and mimic interpreters. ...
  7. Ask your Deaf friends and family teach you. ...
  8. Use an App.
1 Jun 2020

What are the 3 methods used today to teach deaf children? ›

Hence a Multisensory teaching approach involves three main teaching strategies: visual, auditory and kinesthetic.

How long does it usually take to learn sign language? ›

Overall, it can take several years of regular study and practice to become fluent in sign language. It may take from three months to three years to learn sign language. Moreover, it's all about your learning goal setting, and it all depends on your end goal.

What is the most commonly used sign language? ›

ASL, short for American Sign Language, is the sign language most commonly used by the Deaf and Hard of Hearing people in the United States. Approximately more than a half-million people throughout the US (1) use ASL to communicate as their native language.

How did Johnny Depp learn sign language? ›

His sister, Mary Anne, is deaf and his great affection toward her inspired him to learn sign language. He attended Gallaudet University, a university for the Deaf in Washington DC, where he completed his formal training in Sign Language Interpreting in 1979.

Is it easier to learn sign language or a spoken language? ›

Originally Answered: How difficult is it to learn sign language compared to spoken languages? It's at least as difficult. Sign languages have the same complexity and abstraction that spoken languages do. Some of the signs are iconic (i.e., they look like what they describe), but most aren't.

How many signs are in ASL? ›

How many ASL signs are there? About 10,000 different ASL signs exist that corresponds to English, which has about 200,000 words. How much do ASL interpreters make?

Why is it hard to learn ASL? ›

Like any spoken language, ASL is a language with its own unique rules of grammar and syntax. To learn enough signs for basic communication and to sign them comfortably, can take a year or more. Some people pick up signs more slowly than others, and if that is the case with you, don't be discouraged.

Who invented sign language? ›

The first person credited with the creation of a formal sign language for the hearing impaired was Pedro Ponce de León, a 16th-century Spanish Benedictine monk. His idea to use sign language was not a completely new idea.

Is there a sign for every word? ›

Answer: There is not a sign for every word in the English dictionary. However, there is usually a sign for most concepts expressed in English. Conceptually correctness is the key. If you are trying to find a sign on Signing Savvy, first think about the meaning behind what you want to say.

Is Johnny Depp blind or deaf? ›

1. When Johnny Depp first swashbuckled across the screen as Captain Jack Sparrow in “Pirates of the Caribbean,” he had a secret – he's blind in one eye and near-sighted in the other. It wasn't until a 2013 interview in Rolling Stone magazine that he revealed his visual impairment.

How do you sign strong in ASL? ›

Sign strong by flexing your arms in front of your body with hands initially touching the front of your shoulder muscles, then move both hands away from your shoulders while closing them into fists, as if showing off how strong your muscles are.

Which sign language is best? ›

If you want to learn international sign language, the most frequently learned ones after ASL (American Sign Language) are CSL (Chinese Sign Language) and BSL (Brazilian Sign Language).

Is sign language good for your brain? ›

Learning any languages will help to stimulate your brain and give it a good workout. Sign languages are no different. By that, I mean it can enhances its cognition, your creative thinking, brain functionality, memory, spatial awareness, mental rotation skills and more.

What does sign language do to your brain? ›

The processing of sign language showed stronger activation in both occipital lobes, both posterior temporal lobes, and in the thalamus bilaterally. It also showed strong activation particularly in structures in the right hemisphere: the superior temporal sulcus, the fusiform gyrus, and the inferior frontal gyrus.


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