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Used by as many as 500,000 people in the United States and Canada alone, American Sign Language (ASL) is the main form of sign language used by Deaf communities. ASL also forms the foundation of many sign language dialects used around the world, including parts of Southeast Asia and West Africa.
In addition to Deaf individuals, those who use American Sign Language include parents, children, or other family members of Deaf people; teachers working with students who are nonverbal; and, even parents of infants who want to communicate with their babies before their little ones are able to use spoken language.
Wednesday, January 20th
If you're looking for the most comprehensive online American Sign Language program currently available on the market, Start ASL should be at the top of your list. Their ASL lessons include three total levels of instruction (also available as a download if you need to study without an available internet connection), and they are one of the few providers that offer tutoring as an add-on service.
What is truly remarkable about Start ASL is the huge amount of free content. You can access all three levels of content - 14 lessons in Unit 1, 12 lessons in Unit 2, and 11 lessons in Unit 3 - at absolutely no cost, and with no requirement to submit your personal information. This is an incredible way to see if the Start ASL program is a good fit for your learning style, completely risk-free.
We definitely recommend you spend some time browsing the lessons. Be sure to check out Fingerspelling - which is covered in the units themselves but can also be studied as a stand-alone module - and see the workbooks to get an idea of how your learning is reinforced while using Start ASL.
With all of those resources that are offered for free, you might be wondering why students would consider signing up for one of Start ASL's paid subscriptions. You might be interested in the Bronze, Silver, or Gold packages if you want to track your progress, get a certificate of completion for each course level you complete (i.e. in order to request credit for the class from your college, university, or high school), or to participate in interactive activities and quizzes. All of those benefits are offered in the Bronze package for $9.95/month or $99.95/year.
Moving up to the Silver package -$19.95/month or $199.95/year -gets you a 10% discount on any one-on-one tutoring sessions you may want with Start ASL's tutors, along with instructor support for your questions while you work through the lessons.
Finally, at the Gold level, you get a 15% discount on tutoring, along with instructor feedback on all assignments and a verified completion certificate. This level is the most expensive at $49.95/month or $499.95/year.
We love that Start ASL offers a money-back guarantee for 30 days. So, if you choose one of the subscription programs and find that you don't have as much time as you'd hoped, or if you prefer to downgrade to a less expensive package, you only have to contact their support department. They promise to give you a prompt and courteous refund.
Students have great things to say about learning American Sign Language with Start ASL. From parents who are using what they learn to communicate with their children - infants, nonverbal children with autism, and more - to people who are excited to finally be able to communicate with their Deaf friends in ASL, learners report a high level of fluency gained by using the Start ASL program.
With customer-friendly policies, a wealth of information provided at no charge, and a genuine commitment to helping students master American Sign Language, Start ASL is the hands-down winner among online providers of ASL instruction. They are our top choice and earn our highest rating.
Rocket Languages' American Sign Language lessons program is simple and effective, giving you the skills you need to sign basic words and phrases. Rocket's ASL package is designed to give you a beginner to intermediate level of fluency with nearly 100 hours of lessons.
Rocket Languages' ASL contains the following:
Rocket Languages offers free access to the Student Dashboard with no credit card details or any other information required. In order to access this guest trial, we had to use the mouse as if we were going to close the browser window - it then gave us a page to choose from the free guest access or to jump directly to a course description and pricing. A second type of free trial will allow you to track your progress for seven days, so that if you do decide to purchase Rocket Languages' ASL program, you will be able to continue right where you left off. This trial does require you to enter your name and email address.
Rocket Languages backs all of their language programs with a 100%, 60-day money-back guarantee. And, if their customer reviews are any indication, Rocket Languages provides a solid value for the investment with more than 1,600 users rating the program as a perfect five stars.
Although it is not the most comprehensive program in our review, we give Rocket Languages ASL lessons high marks for being customer-friendly and affordable.
Learn and Master is a well-known name for people who want to learn from home, from guitar lessons to foreign languages. Their American Sign Language program is delivered exclusively via DVD, with approximately 50 hours of instruction taught by Stacey Webb and Dr. Byron Bridges. These DVDs are regularly priced at $299, but Learn and Master offers frequent specials and discounts; on the day we visited the site, there was a promotion for $100 off the list price for the ASL program.
You can try several sample lessons on the Learn and Master site, on topics such as Classifiers and The Signing Space. This is the best way to determine if their approach to teaching ASL is a good fit for your learning style. Along with the video lessons on DVD, the Learn and Master program includes a lesson book, but we didn't find any samples on the site to indicate what is included in that component of the instruction.
Another missing piece is the Student Support site. The program promises access to a Student Support Discussion board, with areas for asking questions on specific lessons or talking directly with an instructor, a Sign Language FAQ, and other forums to interact with other ASL learners. Unfortunately, that site wasn't functioning at the time of our review, and even the customer service live chat was "unavailable" when we attempted to ask about accessing the student site. This could be a disappointment for ASL students who want an interactive learning experience rather than just learning by watching DVDs.
On a positive note, Learn and Master does offer a 60-day money back guarantee. You can return the program materials and get a no-questions-asked refund if the lessons don't turn out to be what you were anticipating, or if you feel like you would benefit from a program that includes a robust online community to supplement your learning.
There are several positive reviews on the Learn and Master site, including two from teachers who successfully use the ASL program to teach their students. Overall, the DVD program is effective for some learners and is a good choice for students who don't have consistent access to the Internet when learning to sign.
You may be surprised to learn that American Sign Language has its own structure, rather than being a word-for-word translation of spoken English. For example, the phrase "The father loves his child" would typically use just the signs for "father", "love", and "child". And, just like any other language, ASL can have an "accent" based on the region or culture of the signer, with variations of hand position and facial expression.
In the past, aspiring students of American Sign Language would have to find a Deaf community willing to teach them to sign, take a class at a local community college (if offered), or struggle with books and antiquated DVD lessons in order to learn ASL. However, today's modern tools make it easy to learn fluent American Sign Language at home or even on-the-go, with online courses and up-to-date video lessons.
Are you ready to find the right American Sign Language lessons for you? As you consider the ASL programs on the market, keep the following criteria in mind:
TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best Sign Language lessons available today. We hope these reviews help you open new doors of communication as you learn to sign fluently in ASL right away!
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