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Sunday, June 26th
Skillshare is "an online learning community with thousands of classes for creative and curious people" , ranging from artistic endeavors like illustration and photography to language lessons, programming and much more. Because of the collaborative, user-created nature of this platform, the type and quantity of sign language lessons may vary with time. At the time of our most recent visit to Skillshare, there were 40 ASL lesson sets to choose from.
ASL courses taught by different providers
It's relatively easy to tell at a glance which courses are most popular and who's teaching them. For example, the American Sign Language Level 1 course by Intellezy Trainers had nearly 20,000 students when we visited Skillshare; the next-most popular class was The Alphabet for Beginners by Able Lingo ASL (who also taught the majority of the remaining sign language lessons on offer here).
Read all about it
When you click on a course that catches your attention, you can see exactly how many lessons are included and the total instructional time. It's a good way to make sure the course will meet your learning needs, so you don't waste time on any ASL topics you may have mastered previously. You can also learn more about the instructor(s), the goals of the course, and what their students say about the quality of the sign language lessons.
Account very limited until you pay
Skillshare doesn't make it super-obvious, but you'll have to subscribe to a Premium membership to get "unlimited access to thousands of classes" : your free account only goes so far, and it's not easy to tell upfront how much you'll get out of the sign language classes without paying. If you decide that it's worth it to join, expect to pay $32/month if you choose a month-to-month plan, or $180 on an annual membership (which works out to just $15/month). All plans come with a 7-day free trial.
Best if you want to learn other things too
Compared with other sign language lessons, Skillshare is very expensive. It might be a good resource if there are other classes on the platform you'd like to take, like creative writing, web development, or marketing - you could really get your money's worth. But, if you're just looking for a program with expertise in ASL and only that, you'll likely get a better experience with one of the higher-ranked services in our evaluation.
An "F" from the BBB = choose a different ASL program
Unfortunately, no matter how good any of the individual ASL instructors or programs are here, Skillshare is a service that is probably best avoided. Why? The company has an abysmal rating from the Better Business Bureau: complaint after complaint describes customers having an impossible time canceling after a free trial and being charged for a full year's membership - and then not getting a refund until the BBB gets involved. Go with a sign language lesson service that isn't going to give you a headache.
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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