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Start ASL Review

Thursday, May 23rd

2024 Sign Language Lesson Reviews

Top Consumer Reviews Best-In-Class Blue Ribbon Award Start ASL Review 5 Star Rating

Start ASL

5 Star Rating
  • Pricing details: Silver level costs $47 per month, $247 per semester, or $447 per year. Gold level costs $97 per month, $497 per semester, or $997 per year
  • Taught by certified interpreters and native Deaf signers
  • Material meets ACTFL and California World Language Standards
  • Provides high-quality videos, an advanced online classroom, interactive activities, and e-textbooks
  • Offers video feedback on signing assignments for Gold subscribers
  • Shows signs from different angles to aid learning
  • Offers a 30-day, risk-free guarantee
  • Provides a free ASL dictionary with over 2,300 words and phrases
  • Offers separate online one-on-one tutoring
Top Consumer Reviews Best-In-Class Blue Ribbon Award

When you sign up for Start ASL, you'll be learning from certified interpreters and native Deaf signers. Their material meets ACTFL and California World Language Standards, and they promise you won't need to wonder if the signs you're being taught are accurate like you might when learning from a resource like YouTube. Start ASL is trusted by a long list of academic institutions, and they've been in the game for over a decade and a half.

Free access to main course has been restricted since last review

Previously, Start ASL offered three entire levels of content totally free. That included over 170 video lessons, grammar lessons, and over 1,000 individual phrase and vocabulary videos. Now, though, free access has been limited to ASL 1 and some of the resources on their website, which we'll get into later.

30% discount might stress you out

To enroll in the free ASL 1 Course, you need to enter your name and email. After this, you'll receive a confirmation email that you need to confirm by clicking the "Confirm" link. Once you confirm your subscription, you'll be presented with the opportunity to save 30% on their Complete Online Course. Unfortunately, this offer is only available while on the checkout page to access the free level. Start ASL's stated purpose of the free level is to give you a preview of their full 4-level offering before committing, and we think this time-sensitive incentive kind of defeats that purpose. But, a discount is a discount - you might choose not to look that gift horse in the mouth, and that's okay, too.

Best Sign Language Lessons

Join an interactive community

If you spring for the complete Start ASL online course, you get complete access to ASL levels 1, 2, 3, and 4 at your own pace. You'll have access to high-quality videos, an advanced online classroom, interactive activities, and e-textbooks. You'll become part of a learning community with thousands of students. As a Gold subscriber (we'll get into that in a minute), you'll also receive video feedback on your signing assignments, have access to virtual office hours with an instructor, priority email support, and receive verified completion certificates and grade reports. Throughout these courses, you'll progressively develop your proficiency in American Sign Language and deepen your understanding of Deaf culture. Each course level builds on the last, allowing you to develop a full linguistic approach to communicate appropriately with deaf signers.

Start ASL claims to be able to take you to near-native signing

In ASL 1, you'll learn basics like fingerspelling, numbers, sign parameters, word order, sentence types, pronouns, indexing, classifiers, verbs, and Deaf culture and history. ASL 2 delves into advanced topics to refine your grammar, sentence types, temporal aspects, classifiers, pluralization, distance, inflection, and describing rooms, objects, and locations. ASL 3 teaches you to sign abstract concepts, role shifting, narratives, and communication about various subjects. ASL 4 empowers you to communicate in more native signing with detailed presentations on a wide range of topics. You'll also explore regional sign variations, idioms, interpreting, sign systems, and readings from "Deaf in America: Voices from a Culture'" This journey through Start ASL will equip you with a deep understanding of American Sign Language.

Signing shown from two angles

One thing we really like about Start ASL is that signs are shown from different angles. This helps you figure out how to position your hands and fingers - it shows where the palm is facing, if fingers are bent, the wrist's position, if the thumb touches other fingers, and small movements like wrist rotation or finger spreading. You can also choose the exact playback speed of videos, which is nice.

Best Sign Language Lessons

Gold tier is best for course credit

How much does it cost, though? Start ASL offers two subscription levels for learning American Sign Language. The Silver level, intended for hobbyists and beginners, costs $47 per month, $247 per semester, or $447 per year. As a Silver subscriber, you'll have access to all course materials. The Gold level, best if you're aiming for fluency or earning course credit, costs $97 per month, $497 per semester, or $997 per year. Gold subscribers get the extra perks we mentioned above. We're sad to report that prices have gone up a lot since our last review of Start ASL: a Silver membership used to cost $24.95 a month, while a Gold membership was $49.95.

Money-back guarantee

Start ASL offers a 30-day, risk-free guarantee for their course. If you enroll and find that the course isn't the right fit or you lack the necessary time or motivation, you can request a full refund within the first 30 days.

Free articles, dictionary, and phrasebook

Start ASL has a ton of free resources to help you on your journey to learn sign language. This includes a free ASL dictionary that boasts over 2,300 words and phrases from their complete 4-Level ASL Course in 4k video. If you work through these, you can start engaging in basic sign language conversations sooner than you think. (However, remember to also learn ASL syntax and grammar for proper communication.) Start ASL also offers a collection of videos featuring the top 150 basic sign language words. These words, organized into categories, can help you form an essential base for your vocabulary before you start a course. There's also tons of valuable information to be found by reading their blogs and articles on Deaf culture, Deaf history, and teaching sign language to babies.

Best Sign Language Lessons

Tutoring available

If you're learning ASL and need some personalized help, Start ASL also offers separate online one-on-one tutoring. This can help you get better at signing, receive quick feedback, and prepare for tests. To get started, you just need to download Skype, pick a tutoring session time, and pay. When it's time for your tutoring, you log into Skype and your tutor will start the call.

Start ASL improves relationships between hearing and deaf family members

People who have used Start ASL speak very highly of it. One person said the course is "organized, well-thought out, and fun." They were really impressed by how detailed the course is and liked the videos the most because they could practice reading different signers while learning ASL grammar. Another person said they "love" Start ASL because the coursework is easy to follow and they found the social media content great for learning. A single mom mentioned how Start ASL is affordable and allows her to learn ASL with her daughter. She said the site is "awesome" and was grateful it exists. Lastly, a user shared that the course improved his relationship with his daughter: thanks to Start ASL, they can now chat on video call using sign language.

Still our favorite resource for learning ASL

The last time we reviewed Start ASL, we gave them our highest rating - mostly because of how much you could get for free and the quality of that free content. How do they rank now? They're one of the only services in this review that offers live feedback and tutoring, and their course material is well-organized and easy to follow. The free dictionary is a great resource, too. So while they don't beat some other services on price, you get what you pay for here, and more. That's why Start ASL still earns 5 stars, despite the price increase.

Where Can You Find the Best Sign Language Lessons Online?

Maybe you've decided to learn sign language because you have a deaf child, or perhaps there's a new student at your school who is hard of hearing and you'd like to befriend them. Or it could be that you're simply fascinated by this beautiful, expressive language and want to expand your communication skills. Whatever your reason, learning sign language opens up a new realm of possibilities for connection and understanding.

Learning sign language is unlike picking up any spoken language. You're not just memorizing vocabulary and grammar; you're learning to convey and interpret messages through gestures, facial expressions, and body language. Imagine expressing complex emotions or detailed narratives with your hands and face - it's a whole new way of thinking and communicating.

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Sign Language Lesson FAQ

According to the Communication Service for the Deaf, around one million people use American Sign Language (ASL) as their primary means of communication in the US and Canada. There are also approximately 16,000 people in the US who serve as interpreters with sign language.
Yes, because there is no universal sign language. Even among countries where the same spoken language is used (like Australia, England, and the United States), sign language users from different nations may not understand each other. There are also three different primary forms of sign language within the US: ASL, Pidgin Signed English, and Signed Exact English, with ASL being the most commonly used.
ASL has its own structure and is a language in its own right. The visual component of sign language means that the hands, arms, face and head are all used to convey meaning in ways that aren't an inherent part of spoken English. Also, many of the grammatical constructs common to English (like pluralized nouns and articles like "a" and "the" ) don't exist as words within American Sign Language.
You might think that sign language will be easy to learn quickly, because it seems similar to English. Experts say that's a misconception: expect it to take 2-3 years of regular study to get to an intermediate level of fluency, and an additional 2 years of interpretation training if you want to reach full fluency.
No. Some people use sign language to teach basic words and concepts to their babies, like "more" and "all done", before the children are able to talk. Sign language can also be used by people who are non-verbal. And, many learners like studying ASL just for the enjoyment of it!
Finding a sign language class near you might be difficult. While there are often beginner courses taught at libraries and community centers, or offered by colleges and universities, you might not be able to find lessons near you - or ones that fit your schedule and budget. The nice thing about online sign language lessons is that you can learn at your own pace. Need to watch the instructor do each new word or phrase 20 times before you feel you've got it? No problem!
Not necessarily. Some providers of ASL instruction charge a one-time fee for books, videos, and/or downloadable materials, while others operate on a month-to-month subscription basis for access to online coursework. Both approaches to sign language lessons are affordable, and are usually much less costly than paying for classes at a college or university.
Sometimes. It depends on where you buy your sign language lessons. We recommend that you see what each course offers as a preview before you sign up, whether that's a demo lesson, downloads of sample coursework, or a free 7-day trial. The more you know about how the lessons are taught and what's covered beforehand, the easier it will be to determine which ASL coursework is right for you.
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Continued from above...

Also, keep in mind that sign language is not universal; each country, and sometimes regions within countries, has its own sign language with distinct rules and grammar. This means that learning American Sign Language won't necessarily enable you to communicate with someone who uses British Sign Language (BSL), for example.

Online sign language lessons have surged in popularity over the years. This can be attributed to several reasons that make these lessons an attractive option for a diverse range of learners. But one of the main reasons for the popularity of online sign language lessons is the unparalleled convenience they offer.

Sign language learners can access courses over the internet from anywhere in the world, eliminating the need for physical attendance at specific locations. This flexibility is particularly beneficial for people with busy schedules, letting them learn at their own pace and at times that suit their personal and professional commitments.

Another reason why online sign language lessons are so popular is they can provide a wealth of resources and interactive tools that enhance the learning experience. These can include video tutorials, live classes, interactive exercises, and community forums, all designed to foster a deeper understanding and proficiency in sign language.

The multimedia approach of online sign language lessons caters to different learning styles, ensuring that both visual and auditory learners can all benefit from the courses. High-quality video demonstrations by native signers help learners grasp the nuances of signs, facial expressions, and body language, which are crucial aspects of effective communication in sign language.

If you're considering online sign language lessons, you'll find them a flexible, accessible way to learn. Maybe your schedule is packed, and you need to fit lessons in between other commitments. Or you live in a place without a strong Deaf or hard-of-hearing community to practice with. Online lessons offer the chance to learn from the comfort of your home, with resources like video tutorials that show you exactly how to form each sign, and interactive courses that provide feedback on your signing skills.

When you're choosing an online sign language course, keep these points in mind:

  • Content quality and relevance. You'll want a course that covers everything from the basics to more advanced conversations. For example, if you're learning sign language to communicate with a deaf child, look for lessons that include signs for family, emotions, and daily routines.
  • Interactive learning tools. Opt for courses that make learning fun and effective with quizzes, games, or even a virtual practice buddy. This can help you practice signing in real-time, which is crucial for building your confidence.
  • Feedback and support. It can be helpful to have access to personalized feedback on your signing. Some platforms may offer video assessments or allow you to connect with experienced signers for advice.
  • Flexibility and accessibility. Whether you prefer learning late at night or during your morning commute, the best online lessons work with your schedule and are accessible on various devices.

Top Consumer Reviews has taken a close look at the available options and ranked the best sign language lessons to help you on your way. Whether you're just starting or looking to deepen your knowledge, we hope this guide aids you in finding the perfect sign language lessons to fit your life and learning goals.

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