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Sunday, June 26th
Founded in 1864, Gallaudet University is a bilingual, private university federally chartered for the education of the deaf and hard of hearing. Their in-person campus is located in Washington D.C. They have over 50 degree programs available online or on campus. Students can get their Bachelors, Masters, or Doctorate degree from Gallaudet University. Although this is a professional, expensive University, they offer an ASL Connect program online for free.
Impressive selection of topics
"ASL for free" is a way for people to get their feet wet in the world of American Sign Language. It gives people a starting place to learn the basics of communication through videos and interactive lessons. We were surprised by how many topics there were to choose from including numbers, transportation, baby items, fruits, emotions, colors, animals, sports, weather, basic needs, and more.
Each video is about 45 seconds long, so you either need to internalize everything you're seeing really quickly or do a lot of stopping and rewinding. Videos show the word you're being taught and the sign language interpretation in an ongoing video. For example, if you're learning how to sign different fruits, you'll see an apple on the screen, then the sign, an orange, then the sign, grapes, then the sign, and so on.
Three lesson modules
The lesson modules are a bit more comprehensive than the videos: you are shown one sign at a time and asked to copy. There are three modules: basic personal information, making an encounter, and people. The lessons are short, but teach you how to identify vocabulary related to genders, describe what people are doing with action verbs, answer "yes" or "no" questions, and use appropriate pronouns. Each module has between 1 and 4 lessons.
Good for refreshing your memory
Obviously a huge selling point of using ASL for free through Gallaudet University is that it's... well, free. Because of this, it isn't an extensive program that tracks your progress over time or lets you choose lessons based on your knowledge level. This is just a free resource for anyone to use if they want to teach themselves the basics at whatever pace they want. It's probably best to refer to Gaulladet's free ASL course for quick refreshers rather than learning from scratch.
Brush up on your vocab
If you want all that Gaulladet has to offer for learning sign language, you'll have to sign up for their courses. Each class is about $316 and gives you credit toward a degree at Gallaudet University. This is an amazing institution who has served the deaf community for a long time, so whether you enroll in their courses or take advantage of their free ASL videos, it will be a great benefit to you. This isn't our first choice since you don't have an option to get extensive course content for a budget-friendly price, but it is a good place to refer to if you need to quickly brush up on your ASL vocabulary.
Whether you're interested in connecting with people in the Deaf community, trying to communicate with a non-verbal child, or facing hearing loss yourself, you're in good company. It's estimated that over 500,000 people in the US and Canada use American Sign Language (ASL).
If you're hoping to learn to sign, it's important to choose lessons that teach not just the signs themselves but also about Deaf culture and the differences between ASL and English. (It surprises many people when they learn that they don't correspond in a 1:1 fashion. In fact, ASL often uses a completely different word order, and facial expressions are a critical component of using ASL fluently.
Sign language lessons that include different instructors can help you see that individuals often have their own unique way of signing - just like someone from the South has a spoken accent that's very distinct from a New Yorker. Going back to the question of where to learn ASL, it might be possible to find classes nearby at a community college or even a library. Will they fit your schedule? Your budget?
Maybe, maybe not. Fortunately, there are many providers of sign language lessons online that let you study at your own pace, any time of day or night. (And hey, unlike other language lessons, you don't have to worry about disturbing people as you practice ASL in a quiet public place!)
What should you look for as you choose where to take sign language lessons through the internet? Here are some suggestions that can help you narrow down the options:
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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