Tips & Tricks from an ASL Student

Learning a new language should be fun. Practicing shouldn’t feel like a chore, because we all know that if it does, you’re not going to keep at it. 

A person is learning American Sign Language through video chat.

On top of signing up for Sign Language Blitz, taking in-person classes, or going to Deaf events, there are other ways to practice that I’ve found are easier to trick my brain into doing. 

My qualifications?? I’ve been an ASL student for eight years. Whether that meant daily in-person classes in high school, weekly classes in college, or more casual learning after college, I’ve never stopped practicing and learning through using these practice tools and methods!

So without further ado, here are some fun + fool-proof ways to start practicing your ASL more regularly:

1. Sign what you’re hearing

This one comes with a warning. It can become a habit, so beware. 

Whether I’m listening to a podcast, the radio, a lecture, or a meeting I will fingerspell or sign words that are spoken out loud. While at home listening to a podcast or radio is probably the most respectful way to do this, I’ve definitely done it out and about as well (just a little more sneaky with it). 

This is a great way to practice your expressive skills, in ASL this means when you are the one producing the signs. It helps with expressive fingerspelling fluency as well. No more shaky hands when trying to produce each handshape!

2. Follow Deaf creators.

This is a super simple way to make your scroll time more productive. Make an active effort to search for and follow Deaf creators! 

Not only are you further supporting the Deaf community, but you are also exposing your brain to more ASL, learning more about the Deaf experience, and connecting with an online community of language learners. Sounds like a win-win-win to me!

3. Interpreted Children’s Books or Basic Youtube Videos!

Consume content for children. No, I’m not crazy, there is in-fact a method to my madness. When you are learning a language, you start at the language level of a child (whose native language is that language). Therefore, interpreted books for children are closer to your sign level!

You’ll be surprised at how much you actually understand without audio or captions!

If you’re at a higher signing level, see if you can follow along with Deaf creators on Youtube or Deaf children’s plays.

4. Add Deaf authors to your “To Be Read” or add shows with Deaf actors to your “To Be Watched”

Reading or watching the Deaf experience is a great way to learn about the culture and potentially get some ASL exposure. Not only are you seeing ASL in action, but you’re learning about Deaf culture, and Deaf current events in the process! 

If you’re looking for shows with Deaf actors in them, check out some of our blogs that highlight them:

If you’re looking for books with Deaf authors, check out the list we’ve compiled.

While I’ve been at it for 8 years, and these are my favorite practice methods, I know this is nowhere near a comprehensive list! 

I’d love to hear from you on what your favorite practice method is! Shoot over a message to me through the Instagram @signlanguageblitz for a chance for your practice tip to be featured in an upcoming video!

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