Language learning is beneficial for your brain and enhances your communication skills.
Not only that, but it is also a great skill to have if you or any of your friends or family members are deaf or have a hearing impairment.
You know how hard things are for these people when trying to communicate with other people. It’s frustrating if you can’t hear or talk partially or fully, and in this case, lip-reading might also be a challenging task, which could take years to get a hang of it.
But, there is a reliable solution for it – Sign language.
And the best thing, you can now learn it within the comforts of your home through online sign language courses.
In this article, I will discuss some of the resources to learn sign language so that you can communicate effectively with people with hard hearing or deafness.
So, let’s start!
What is sign language?
Sign language comprises non-verbal communication methods using various hand gestures and movements that convey a message between two people. It has its vocabulary, grammar, dialects, and slang words of its own.
Sign language is a visual language different from spoken languages and designed to help people who are deaf or hearing impairments. Sign language speakers use their body, hands, face, and eyes fluently during communication.
Types of Sign Language
There’s no universal sign language; it varies from region to region. In fact, there are about 138-300 types of sign language people use across the globe.
However, many countries with a commonly spoken language might not have the same sign language. For example, English has 4 types of sign languages:
- American Sign Language (ASL)
- Australian Sign Language (Auslan)
- British Sign Language (BSL)
- New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL)
Over 500k people in the US use ASL; it uses a single hand for gestures and movements. On the other hand, British, Australian, & New Zealand’s sign language or BANZSL uses two hands.
Other types of sign languages are Chinese Sign Language (CSL), French Sign Language (FSL), Japanese Sign Language (JSL), Arabic Sign Language, Spanish Sign Language (LSE), Mexican Sign Language (LSM), Ukrainian Sign Language (USL), Plains Sign Talk of North American Indigenous people, and many more.
Note: In this article, we are going to talk about resources for ASL and BSL only.
Sign Language Basics
- Learning the alphabets
- Mastering grammar
- Communicating with hands
- Improving comprehension
- Increasing the vocabulary
- Fingerspelling to spell words through hand movements
Benefits of learning sign language
- Learning sign language stimulates your brain and enhances its activity, cognition, communication skills, listening skills, creative thinking, memory, functionality, mental rotation skills, spatial awareness, and more.
- A study conducted at the University of Sheffield says that sign language learners have better reaction time and peripheral vision.
- It helps you communicate with babies whose cognitive development can be enhanced by showing basic signs.
- Sign language learning can help you communicate with animals or your pets if they are deaf while improving your bond with them.
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that interpreters and translators’ employment is likely to increase by 20% by the end of 2029. Hence, it opens the door to interesting job opportunities across different sectors, both in government and private.
- Sign language introduces you to different cultures, communities, countries, alongside the deaf and hard-of-hearing communities, to understand their difficulties, thoughts and build new relationships with them.
Who should learn Sign language?
- Deaf and people with hearing impairments
- Parents to deaf or hard-of-hearing children
- Professionals such as educators who may have deaf or hard-of-hearing students
- First responders; due to hearing loss in the older adults
- Service providers like counselors, social workers, medical professionals, and psychologists
- Athletes who may need to communicate with people having deafness or hearing impairments or are themselves having these difficulties
Where should you learn Sign Language?
Traditionally, people learn sign language from books with pictures conveying signs and gestures. They also hire tutors, which can be a costly deal. Students can also learn from their school teachers if you are lucky to have one who is proficient in sign language.
In certain cases, parents with such difficulties or have children with these difficulties also teach sign language to their children.
But what if your situation is different from all these cases, or you want to learn it the other way. No issues; you can join an online class.
In an online sign language learning class, they will teach you different techniques to master the skill. It includes videos, games, quizzes, puzzles, diagrams, fun activities, and exercises to learn the language interactively.
Finally, let’s explore some good resources to learn sign language no matter why you need to learn it.
The first one on the list is SignLanguage101 which provides comprehensive sign language learning courses. They teach you online:
- Level 1 ASL course
- Level 2 ASL course
- Complete ASL course (Level 1 & 2)
Apart from this, they also offer FREE videos for ASL levels 1 & 2. There are 20 lessons divided into small lectures with exercises and activities for additional practice.
Both the ASL Level 1 & 2 are self-paced and structured so that you can complete them in ten weeks. However, you can take longer than that if you need. The complete ASL course is available at an affordable cost of $37.5. It teaches you 1400+ vocabularies that you can start using right away.
The video instruction stretches to more than 8 hours to get a clear, detailed idea. They help you enhance your learning with 100+ worksheets and exciting activities. Besides, this online course includes 50 receptive questions you can practice and 100 fingerspelling tasks.
You can learn ASL based on your schedule, plus they track your learning progress as well. It is suitable for ages 10-100 years, and the overall learning atmosphere is fun and unintimidating. After the online ASL course completion, you will earn a certificate to display wherever you want.
The ASL App
Since 2015, The ASL App has been teaching conversational online ASL. They quickly teach essential ASL phrases and signs with 2,000+ videos and have designed the app to make the entire learning process accessible, easy, and fun.
The ASL App has simple navigation and useful features, so you don’t have trouble using it. Download the app via Google Play or Apple Store to learn ASL and communicate and collaborate with people more.
Start bridging gaps and communicate easily using ASL that you can easily learn on Lingvano. They aim to make sign learning fast and easy with bit-sized interactive video sessions. It will boost your real-time communications by teaching you the skills you require for it to happen.
For this, you don’t have to spend too much time on it, just 10 minutes per day is sufficient to fuel your learning. The course includes useful and interactive dialogues to help you make that first communication.
You can use their vocabulary trainer that reinforces your memory while retaining the skills you acquired for the longest possible time. Interestingly, you also get an ASL dictionary while finding a specific sentence or sign.
Not only this, but Lingvano also provides you with a Sign Mirror to refine your sign execution and gain that confidence while having real-time conversations.
Furthermore, Lingvano is available for use on your laptop, tablet, or smartphone, so you can learn ASL whenever and wherever you want in this world. Both Android and iPhone users can download the app on their smartphones, where they constantly sync your ASL learning progress.
Learn British Sign Language at home from British.sign.co.uk. This online sign course is a CPD-certified service that you can access on mobile, tablet, laptop, or desktop.
They make BSL learning fun, flexible, and easy with their unique methods and comprehensive introduction to anybody interested in learning it. Not to mention, you can study BSL at your convenient time and pace.
From beginners, school students, and staff to people revising Level 1, anyone can take up the course. In addition, the course is available for staff training in retail, medical, education, childcare, etc., and people participating in the DofE award.
The course structure comprises 10 lessons: numbers, fingerspelling, Deaf Awareness intro, relationships, family, hobbies, descriptions, time, days, months, seasons, money, food, drinks, emotions, animals, conversations, and clothing.
In addition to this, you get a special vocabulary for medical, education, transportation, home settings, etc. At the end of every lesson, they take an assessment that covers small-size BSL videos plus Q&A. With these interactive activities, you can measure and track your progress while finding areas that need improvements.
Upon scoring 85% or more on each assessment for every lesson and final, you will receive a completion certificate accredited by CPD. They also allow you to retake the assessments multiple times at no additional cost. The course is accessible for one year and designed for approximately 16-20 hours with 1.5-2 hours of effort every week.
Besides, they offer both individual rates as well as group rates for the course. Their pricing structure is unique – “Pay What You Can” instead of a fixed amount. It implies that you have the option to decide how much you can pay for yourself or your group (a minimum of £3 or around $4 per person).
No matter what your goal or current BSL level is, you can learn it online from BSCourses at your pace. They offer lots of courses ranging from the complete beginner course to a professional interpreter course. They provide a total of 13 online courses, including:
- Level 1 BSL
- Level 2 BSL
- Level 3 BSL
- Level 6 BSL
- BSL Coaching Intermediate
- BSL Coaching Advanced
- Signature awards in Levels 1, 2, 3, and 6.
- Deaf Awareness Training
The courses can help you search for a flexible way of learning and/or wanting to interact with a friend or family member who is deaf or has hearing impairments. It also gives you a perfect head start if you want to pursue a career dedicated to working with those people.
Join any courses if you want to gain professional experience in this field or grab recognized certifications. In addition to this, the course has lots of quizzes, tutorials, and interactive sessions that you can enjoy learning.
Complete the exciting quizzes, test your BSL skills, knowledge, and performance with images and videos, and unlock more classes. BSLCourses also provides expert tips and feedback via webcam throughout the course so you can move to the next class without any doubt.
A YouTube channel goes by the name of Bill Vicars to help you learn ASL through instructional videos.
Dr. Bill Vicars runs this channel from American Sign Language University (ASLU). His videos help you with ASL levels 1, 2, 3, and 4, along with medical sign language, Sign language linguistics, and more.
He has covered topics like numbers from 1-10, polite phrases and greetings, pronouns, 100 basic signs, fingerspells, classifiers, depicting signing, and more.
ASL American Sign Language is an app, and it is available for Apple and Android devices. Its developer is Saeed Bashir and has 4.5 stars in the App Store. This app makes your learning journey convenient and enjoyable. It is completely FREE and does not compromise your privacy or irritate you with extra permissions.
The app covers topics like ASL history, alphabets, numbers from 1-100, common vocabulary, and conversational phrases. Furthermore, it includes 100 basic signs featuring videos for family signs, time signs, place signs, and more.
The learning environment gets more interactive with ASL word-picture matching games, ASL number-picture matching games, along with figures and facts on ASL. You also get feedback on this app to enhance your learning.
Moreover, they constantly improve the app by introducing new updates while allowing you to submit suggestions. The app is compatible with iPod Touch, iPad, and iPhone and supports two languages – English and Spanish.
More features of this app, which is completely FREE, are:
- High privacy and security
- ASL history
- Numbers from 1-100
- Typical phrases and vocabulary
- 250+ basic signs featuring video
- Games, facts, and figures
Sign language learning is fun, interactive, and beneficial for your brain. It also helps you establish a better connection with people with hearing impairments or deafness. Whether you are someone who wants to communicate with your child, pet, students, or anyone in need, you can take up an online course.