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How to Learn Sign Language - American Sign Language Edition

Wondering how to learn sign language - American Sign Language, to be more specific? This ultimate guide will give you some ideas on the best way to learn ASL.

Updated on Jun 26, 2024
5 min read
Summary: You can learn ASL by taking lessons, listening to online courses, watching video tutorials, and speaking with members of the Deaf community. If you want to learn ASL for free, you can install the ASL Bloom app.

When you start learning a new language, it can be an exciting but challenging process. It gives you an opportunity to learn about the culture of that language and join the community. 

The same can be said for sign language. Since there is no universal sign language, you will want to learn the sign language used where you live. If you live in the US, American Sign Language (ASL) is used.

You might be surprised to learn that ASL is the third most used language in the States. It comes right after English and Spanish.

ASL isn't only used by people who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing (HOH), but hearing people as well.

Are you wondering how to learn sign language? Do you want to know how to learn American Sign Language specifically? Then you came to the right place. 

In this guide, we'll go over the possible ways you can learn ASL. We will also go through some useful tips and strategies that can make learning ASL easier.

How to Learn ASL (American Sign Language?)

Learning ASL can be a rewarding experience. But it's not something you can do overnight. You need time, practice, and dedication to learn ASL.

Before you start learning ASL, you should know that it isn't representative of English. 

American Sign Language should be viewed as its own language. It's not a spoken imitation of English. 

That being said, there are various ways to learn ASL. You can:

  • Enroll in a class. This can be at a community college, an adult education center, or an online course. 
  • Use an ASL app. There are many ASL apps you can use to learn this sign language. If you want to learn how to do sign language for free, you can use ASL Bloom.
  • Use online resources. You can use YouTube channels or ASL websites to learn sign language online for free.
  • Join an ASL group. Not only does joining an ASL group help you learn to sign, but you will also be able to meet others from the community.
  • Use sign language dictionaries. Websites like Signing Savvy and ASL Pro provide extensive video dictionaries. You can also use an ASL dictionary as a reference.
  • Immerse yourself. Watch videos, movies, and TV shows in ASL. Try to use sign language as much as possible in your daily life.
  • Practice on a regular basis. You can practice using ASL apps and flashcards with friends or someone from the ASL community.  

How Long Does It Take to Learn ASL? 

Learning American Sign Language takes between 3 months and a year. However, completely mastering ASL takes years. 

How much time will it take to learn ASL depends on the level of proficiency you're aiming for:

  1. Beginner level - 3 to 6 months
  2. Intermediate level - 6 months to 2 years
  3. Advanced level  - 2 to 5 years

Learning the ASL alphabet and basic concepts takes three to six months. 

But you need at least six months to learn complex terms and construct sentences. The same applies to understanding conversations in ASL.

It would take years of constant learning and practice to become an ASL expert. If you want to communicate fluently with ASL signers, you need time and dedication.

You should also know that the time frame for learning American Sign Language depends on:

  • Your level of dedication
  • The amount of time you put into learning
  • Your learning environment
  • The ability to understand new concepts quickly
  • Your previous experience with learning languages

Is ASL Hard to Learn?

American Sign Language isn't harder to learn than any other oral or natural language. 

Like oral languages, American Sign Language has rules of grammar and syntax. You have to master these rules to get a proper understanding of this sign language.

Learning sign language starts with understanding the basic concepts. You must also learn the ASL alphabet before moving on to more advanced lessons.

The level of difficulty of learning ASL depends on your goals. 

A person who wants to learn ASL just to understand the basic concepts of sign language, like "hello!" or "goodbye," will find it easier.

An ASL student studying to become an interpreter will have to learn more advanced lessons. These classes usually offer proper ASL-to-English and English-to-ASL interpretation.

If you are a visual learner, you will find it easier to pick up ASL. Since ASL involves a lot of physical movement, kinesthetic learners might also find it easier.

Ultimately, it depends on you. If you are prepared to dedicate enough time and effort, you will be able to master ASL.

Tips for Learning ASL 

The following expert tips will make learning ASL fun and easier:

  1. Practice as much as possible. 

Like all languages, practice is key to improvement. The more you immerse yourself in ASL, the easier it will be to learn.

  1. Learn in groups. 

The best way to learn ASL is to study with other students. This way, you have others to learn and practice with.

  1. Learn directly from the Deaf. 

SignOn connects the hearing and Deaf communities through authentic virtual learning interactions. It gives ASL learners the unique opportunity to communicate one-on-one with a Deaf ASL Ambassador.

  1. Learn ASL in steps. 

If you learn in steps, you won't get overwhelmed when introduced to advanced ASL concepts.

If you are looking to learn some basic signs, check out our YouTube channel ASL Bloom. Our team will introduce you to your first signs. Our videos cover many topics, including the alphabet, colors, and family. A good place to start is our 25 basic signs in ASL video.
Screenshot of the ASL Bloom app
  1. Devote time to learning American Sign Language. 

The more time and effort you put into learning ASL, the quicker you'll learn and master the sign language. 

  1. Watch instructional videos.

ASL is a demonstrative language. It's communicated through facial expressions and body movements. Watching people use and communicate with signs lets you learn sign language quickly.

  1. Volunteer in community programs. 

When you take volunteer jobs, you get first-hand practical experience on how to learn and use ASL.

  1. Take extra American Sign Language classes. 

Taking extra sign language classes or online courses exposes you to more details about ASL.

  1. Use ASL tools, programs, and software to support your learning. 

You can also register for an online class and use the online resources to buffer your understanding of ASL.

With our ASL learning app, ASL Bloom, you will be able to learn American Sign Language anywhere and at any time in a fun and effective way. The learning experience consists of 20 modules. Each is on a different topic and has specific learning outcomes. Try out our premium level to access all the learning content!
Screenshot of the ASL Bloom app
  1. Set goals.

Setting ASL goals makes it easier to track your progress and achieve them.

Why Should You Learn ASL?

Here are the top reasons you should learn American Sign Language:

  1. Communication with the Deaf and HOH community

Learning ASL doesn't only enable you to communicate with a Deaf person. It also lets you learn about the cultural values of Deaf people and the Deaf culture in the US.

  1. Career opportunities 

It will open doors for you as a sign language interpreter or ASL instructor. You can use your sign language interpreting services for different career opportunities. For example, universities, firms, government and private-owned companies, and news publication companies.

  1. Cognitive benefits

Learning sign language can improve cognitive abilities, like multitasking and spatial awareness. It's a great way to improve your language and communication skills.

  1. Better relationships

When you learn ASL, it becomes easier to communicate with a Deaf friend or native signer.

  1. Cultural awareness

American Sign Language brings people together. It increases the sense of togetherness between hearing people and Deaf people in the US.

  1. Emergencies

Knowing ASL can be important in emergencies. You might need to communicate with a Deaf or hard-of-hearing individual.

  1. Possibility of learning other sign languages

Learning to sign ASL makes it easier to learn other types of Sign Languages. This includes British Sign Language (BSL) and French Sign Language (LSF). It also makes it easier to hand-speak with signers from different countries.

How to Learn ASL for Free: the ASL Bloom App

If you're looking for the best way to learn ASL for free, the answer is the ASL Bloom app. 

With our ASL app, you can learn American Sign Language any time, any place. Install it on your Android or iPhone device and use it whenever you want.

Best of all, this app is completely free to use. It covers 23 modules with over 120 structured video lessons. 

ASL Bloom also offers:

  • Interactive video lessons
  • Real-life sign dialogues 
  • A dictionary
  • Progress tracking
  • Practice activities
  • Quizzes and flashcards
Screenshot of the ASL Bloom app

From everyday greetings and the alphabet to numbers and fingerspelling, you will learn new signs every day. 

What also makes ASL Bloom fun is the streak you get to grow every day. With just one lesson a day, you will be able to increase your streak to keep you going.

The lessons are designed and taught by ASL experts and deaf native signers. With credentials like CDI, ASLPI4+, and ASL Education Degrees, you can count on their knowledge and expertise. 

ASL Bloom also has a Premium version. If you subscribe, you can use our fun quizzes and useful flashcards. ASL Bloom Premium comes with many more features that will improve your ASL learning. 

Learning ASL Online with ASL Bloom

Learning American Sign Language has numerous benefits. It lets you communicate effectively with hearing and Deaf people alike.

You also get to learn about the rich history of the Deaf culture while connecting with other ASL students.

There are many career opportunities that become open to you from being able to sign an ASL. With all these benefits, it's no surprise that more people enroll in ASL language classes every day.

As long as you devote time and effort to learning ASL and follow the tips discussed in this article, you will become an ASL expert in no time.

If you download ASL Bloom, your learning experience will be much more fun, not to mention easy. You will be able to learn new signs every day while perfecting your ASL knowledge.

Install ASL Bloom and start your ASL journey today.

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If you start now you are more likely to keep learning in near future!

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