Tips on learning ASL?

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by firehorsewoman, Jun 5, 2012.

  1. Recently I have had the opportunity to work with a couple of deaf co-workers through one of my temp jobs. This experience has opened my eyes to the deaf community and in an effort to be communicate better with them I have been trying to teach myself ASL online through the site Start ASL. (Only one other person there out of a staff of about 20 people who are all there full-time has even made an attempt to learn ASL-I find that very sad) I am really falling in love with the language. Any tips?

    by the way, I have not found an in person ASL class that is either affordable nor available at this time. There are some college course that go towards a degree but nothing at a Community College for folks that want to learn on a less formal level. Disappointing being that I live in such a large city. Unfortunately, I only work at that temp job once or twice a month at most so I am not able to practice with my co-workers as often as I would like to.

    difficult child and easy child seem interested when they see me practicing online. Maybe we can learn together?

  2. keista

    keista New Member

    Such a shame that it's not more accessible, isn't it? I believe they should offer it in schools as a "foreign" language.
  3. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Do you have a local association for the deaf?
    Ours, here, puts on non-credit classes, for anyone who wants to learn,
    Plus they run a conversational group for anyone who wants to practice - minimal fee to pay for coffee supplies.
    They LOVE to share their language.
  4. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    I took ASL and I loved it. :)

    When communicating this way, facial expression and body language are a huge deal. You want your face to express / emphasize what you're saying so the message is clear. Sometimes it appears over exaggerated, depending, other times it's so subtle you have to watch their face carefully not to miss it.

    Be careful with your deaf coworkers. When learning ASL, one is tempted to watch others sign to each other. This is extremely rude. Basically you're eavesdropping. Know what I mean?? And they do get offended, depending on the conversation. (well, we would too) If they catch you watching them speak (and they will, trust me.......and you will because it's nearly impossible to resist at first) explain that you're trying to learn and apologize for your "boldness". Usually they'll understand. Sometimes they'll try to help you a bit too.

    When learning, I'm assuming you're watching videos, watch the facial expression & watch that sign carefully........make sure you do it as they do. But I'll tell you straight up, there are "accents" and "dialects" even with ALS. So while it's supposed to be the same across the board, it's not always so. So if you get a blank stare, that may be the issue (the sign you use may not mean what you think it does to that person depending on what area of the state/country they're from), not that you're not doing the sign right.

    Practice, practice, practice. It's best if you can find someone to learn with because you need to be able to "see" what someone else is saying in real life as well as have them watch you for mistakes.

    Like I said, I loved it. I hated the tests each week..........omg our instructor could sign fast!! (she tried to keep it somewhat slow but her hands would run away with her. LOL ) But I've loved it since I was first introduced to it as a child. It's the only 2nd language I was good at.

    Good Luck :)
  5. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    This wouldn't work for everybody but it did for a friend of mine. He attended a church that had one elderly couple that were deaf and used sign language. Nobody else in the whole congregation knew sign language, even the minister. So they had someone come in and give classes to anyone who wanted to attend. Dozens of them learned at least enough to communicate with these old people and it made all the difference in the world to them! Some of the kids even learned it,which was kind of funny. The old man was short and round and had long white hair and a white beard and every little kid in town was thoroughly convinced that he was Santa Claus!
  6. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    You might be able to audit the class at the college - much cheaper and no stress.
  7. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Try community education brochures in the school districts around you. The best thing is if you're comfortable, to tell your Co workers and see if you can go for coffee or a picnic lunch together. Depends on the person because some people have political or personal reasons for not appreciating poor signing but some people are patient and would think that was a great thing ...(just like any of us ....right?) My students and friends who have worked jobs where there is no one to talk to have said it gets frustrating or lonely. Learning thru ASL language users is the best in my opinion and even 35 years of using asl I always ask and learn. Oh....some churches offer sign lang too.
  8. buddy

    buddy New Member

    LOL I started my post yesterday and didn't finish till today so hadn't seen my ideas were already shared. Sorry.
  9. buddy

    buddy New Member

    They do here. My niece is taking it for second lang credit in high school. ( inappropriately signed red solo cup for her final...i cant believe the teacher allowed a drinking song,lol) and it is offered at the university level for 2nd lang credit too. Only if learning true ASL. Not for signed English classes of course.
  10. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Auditing classes is a good idea. It's MUCH cheaper. You're basically taking the class and doing all the work, just not getting credit for it. We had several people who were auditing while I was taking it for various reasons.