How to Learn ASL: Tips for Signing
Beginner ASL signers have a lot to juggle with, as learning any language can be fairly difficult. That’s why we here at FactSumo have come up with some easy suggestions for how to learn ASL!
Facial expressions can be seen as the equivalent of tone in English sentences. They allow signers to showcase their personality, while adding vital details to a story or phrase. Beginner signers often make the mistake of not utilizing this important facet of signing in ASL. To take your signing to the next level, make sure to incorporate facial expressions! They can dramatically change the meaning you’re trying to convey. Just as a storyteller is very expressive, so you must be when signing in daily conversation. Try practicing in the mirror if you’re nervous to be animated when first starting out!
One of the most important things you can do when you first start learning ASL is to pick up fingerspelling. The alphabet is a vital component to ASL, as it allows you to sign for words you don’t already have memorized. A handy way to practice this throughout your day is to sign the objects you see. Even at your desk at work, try fingerspelling computer or pen, or anything else you come across! That way, you practice naturally and can use these skills when signing for difficult things you may not know the signs for. Another great tactic is to fingerspell someone’s name when you interact with them during your day!
Watch others sign
Just as you can bolster your language abilities by watching how other speakers communicate, the same applies to learning ASL. Watching the subtle, different ways in which people sign can help you develop your own expressive style. Pay attention not only to the way their hands move, but also their torso and face. How are they using their body to help express their stories? Use these kinds of things to your advantage. It doesn’t hurt to mimic how others sign; imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!
Watch yourself sign
Fluent signers are important to watch, as they really know their stuff. But it’s also good to monitor your own signing techniques, too! Practice in front of a mirror to see if you are clearly signing, and if what you are signing is viewable from the front. Sometimes learners of ASL struggle with making their gestures clear, but this can be easily remedied by recording yourself or by signing in a way you can watch yourself do it!
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