Learning a new language as an adult is challenging!! My good friend Amanda Beneke was able to learn American Sign Language as an adult so I asked her for some tips. Here’s what she said.
1. Take an ASL course or use online resources to learn new signs.
2. Sign everyday!
The more involved you become, the more successful you will be. Join a signing Meetup to practice more.
3. Fingerspelling is hard, so keep practicing! Two tips:
Grab a book and finger spell every single word on a page. One ASL teacher taught me this: When spelling a word, think in syllables instead of letters. It works! Example: spell “fan-tas-tic” not F-A-N-T-A-S-T-I-C)
4. Follow Deaf news sources on social media to practice your receptive language skills.
5. Facial expressions and body movements/placement are just as important as the words you are signing.
Watch for these details as you learn. If you have the opportunity, watch ASL interpreters sign. You can learn new signs and proper ways to interpret a message by comparing the signed vs. spoken message. Remember that ASL is a conceptual language with its own grammatical rules and structures. It is not a word-for-word translation from a spoken language.
6. Have fun! The more you enjoy learning a new language, the easier it becomes.
List of ASL Resources
DHH Family Resources
These are resources that can help families of children with hearing loss.
- Sign It ASL Course “Sign It ASL” is the short name for “Sign It: American Sign Language Made Easy”. It is an online, self-paced American Sign Language course. The complete curriculum will have a total of 10 units (50 lessons) that teach conversational ASL (vocabulary, sentences, grammar, and syntax) and Deaf culture. SignIt! is available free of charge to parents of DHH kids under 36 months old.
- Hands and Voices Groups Hands & Voices is a non-profit, parent-driven organization dedicated to supporting families of children who are deaf or hard of hearing. We are non-biased about communication methodologies and believe that families can make the best choices for their child if they have access to good information and support. Our membership includes families who communicate manually and/or orally. From American Sign Language to cochlear implants, our organization represents people from all different approaches to, and experiences with, deafness or hearing loss. We have local chapters comprised mainly of parents along with professionals. If you’re interested in opening a Hands & Voices group in your area, just contact us via this website for more information.
- ASL Stages of Development 3 months-6 years
A Good Start: Suggestions for Visual Conversations with Deaf and Hard of Hearing Babies and Toddlers
Launching Communication and Language Through Sign 20 minute course in ASL and spoken English with subtitiles
- California State University at Northridge DEAF Project American Sign Language Classes for Families with DHH Children through
- California School for the Deaf in Riverside (CSD Riverside) ASL Classes
Online ASL Dictionaries
Online ASL Classes
Facebook Pages & Groups
- American Sign Language Learning Buddies A page where the hearing and the deaf can come together to learn, teach, and make friends.
- Learn ASL: Language & Culture This is a group to Learn American Sign Language. To learn about Deaf Culture, Stories, Language, History.
- Deaf Events and Social Events in Southern California
- SoCal Deaf/ASL Events
- Signing Time
- ASL University by Lifeprint with Bill Vicars
- Signing With Heart
- English by Eye English by Eye can help you improve reading with American Sign Language! Our videos offer research-supported learning activities central to Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL).
In Person ASL Meetups
- Deaf Coffee is dedicated to providing a directory of social places in the USA for deaf people to get together, chat, and enjoy! Students of ASL (American Sign Language), ASL interpreters and CODA (children of deaf adults) or relatives are welcome to join.
- Start ASL Deaf Events
- DeafNation Expo Conferences We are the foremost touring trade show for, by, and about deaf people since 2003, has attracted more than 1 million attendees since. Our philosophy is that free admission brings a diversity of attendees who can share our culture, needs, language, and information.
- Deaf Newspaper Deaf Events
- Deaf.LA Deaf Events in Los Angeles
ASL News Sources
More about Amanda Beneke
Amanda Beneke is a Speech-Language Pathologist and a certified Listening and Spoken Language Specialist/Auditory Verbal Therapist. She graduated from the University of Arizona with her master’s degree in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences in 2009. Since that time, she has worked in different settings across the United States to provide evaluations and speech-language therapy/listening and spoken language services for children of all ages. She utilizes the principles of Auditory Verbal Therapy (AVT) to teach parents and caregivers how to be primary facilitators of their child’s listening and spoken language skills. Amanda has worked with children with cochlear implants (CI), hearing aids, and auditory brainstem implants (ABI). In addition, Amanda communicates with families in American Sign Language and Spanish to support the language of the home. She has experience supervising and training graduate students during practicum placements. Amanda has volunteered with a nonprofit organization called CLASP International since 2011 to develop the field of speech-language pathology in Zambia, Africa. Amanda currently works with the Early Learning Program at Arizona School for the Deaf and the Blind. Previously she worked at John Tracy Center, Maryland School for the Deaf, and the University of Texas at Dallas Callier Center for Communication Disorders.
Contact Amanda Beneke – If you want to get in touch with Amanda you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or DM her on instagram @arbeneke.