American Sign Language 1: Learn to Sign

Course Overview

Units at a glance

Have you ever watched a sign language interpreter at a public event and thought— “Wow, what a beautiful and expressive language!”? Yes, sign language is an amazing visual language that is almost like a dance, with fine finger shapes, facial expressions, and expressive body movements. But American Sign Language is the language of communication for many, with rules and grammar just like any other official language. Each of those movements has a specific meaning and is part of a unique and fascinating language. Get ready to embark on an exciting new journey into the world of American Sign Language so you, too, can communicate in this exquisite way!

Well, hi there! Nice to meet you. Being able to introduce yourself and communicate with others upon meeting is a necessary, everyday skill. Of course, when unable to do this in your native language, it can present quite a challenge, and you may possibly even run the risk of appearing rude. Needless to say, learning how to introduce yourself and mind your manners in an ASL setting is definitely an important skill to have. But don’t worry—soon you’ll be able to graciously introduce and tell a little bit about yourself so you can feel confident and comfortable if ever at a Deaf event.

What is in a sign? Well, there are five things that make up a sign in ASL, and you can break those down to better understand how to sign words and sentences. Some very useful sentences include those that are questions or answers; consider, for example, when you want to get to know a new person. What do they like? Dislike? Want? Don’t want? All of this, as well as the elements that make up signs, are very important to basic conversation, so let’s get started!

Did you know that the football huddle originated when players on a Deaf college team crowded together to hide their sign language from the opposition? Or, did you have any idea that Benedictine monks had an interesting place in Deaf history? Knowing such background information can help us put American Sign Language into context, allowing us to better understand more about Deaf culture. Schools are an important part of Deaf history, so let’s learn to sign about everything that happens there! Plus, what does it take to be a member of the Deaf community? Together, we’ll explore more about how people identify with the community and all about the wide range of people you might meet there.

Imagine trying to function and communicate in a hearing world all day, every day. This is the reality for many Deaf individuals in the workplace. While accommodations and adaptations have made things easier, working in the hearing world has its challenges. Together, we’ll learn signs for various professions and terms frequently used on the job. We’ll also dive further into signing numbers—did you know that some numbers in ASL rock? Understanding this concept will make your numbers crystal clear in Sign Language. Plus, we’ll get a glimpse into Black Deaf history, which helped form a unique subculture and dialect of ASL.

Do you ever wonder how Deaf students learn? How might it be different from how a hearing student is educated? Together, we’ll take some time to learn about the options for Deaf education today. Of course, when school is over, it’s time to celebrate! Knowing how to sign about time and days will help to make sure you don’t miss out on the fun. We’ll also learn how to indicate the past, present, and future in ASL—it is so efficient that you may wonder why we don’t have something this simple in English!

What season is it? It’s theater season! Did you know there has been a thriving and creative Deaf theater scene since the era of the Deaf clubs (and even before)? There are Deaf dancers and even Deaf singers (yes!) who have appeared on network television. And beyond the performing arts, there is a whole movement in Deaf visual arts that expresses political and personal perspectives of Deaf artists. So, what are we waiting for? Let’s jump in and cover the creative arts as well as signs about seasons and weather.

Cut out the background noise! Technology can help Deaf and Hard of Hearing people more efficiently function in the wider world—let’s explore a few of the types. Then we will expand your vocabulary with sports, animals, and foods. With all this ASL vocabulary, maybe you’ll want to choose a career where you can use your ASL skills—whether you want to be a sign language interpreter or just use your skills to help communication in another profession, there are so many options to put your ASL into action!

Course Highlights

Immerse yourself in Deaf culture.
Discover the vibrant Deaf community and all that it has to offer.
Learn about the many ASL career opportunities.
Acquire hundreds of signs as you explore the exciting world of American Sign Language.

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