|Before attempting to learn any American Sign Language, we strongly recommend that you read all the information below first|
If you do not see the words for the signs in the ASL dictionary, or if the sides of the frames have scrollbars, MAXIMIZE YOUR SCREEN. We've received several complaints about this: but maximize your screen by clicking on the button with a square inside it on the upper right corner of your browser, especially if you're an AOL user. If you still do not see the words, go to the "View" menu if you have Microsoft Internet Explorer, and disable the toolbar. If you are using Netscape Navigator, go to the "Options" menu and disable the toolbar.
A large number of words are signed around the upper body and head. Most of these are signed close to the neck and head enabling faster and clearer comprehension. Body language and facial expression are very important aspects of conversation with hearing impaired people. Speaking the words can also be extremely valuable.
Punctuation is used to emphazize points; however, facial expression and gestures often replace it. For example, when asking a question, the sign for a question mark can be used at the end of the sentence. The alternative is making a questioning facial expression. When doing this, the last sign is held for a longer period than usual.
An easy way to recognize genders is to remember that most male signs are made at the forehead. Female ones are made next to the cheek or chin.
Tenses (past, present and future) are indicated by the position of the sign in front of the body. Present tense signs are made in front of the body. Past tense signs move backward. Future tense signs move forward away from the body.
Practicing sign language
NEVER practice signing in a mirror, as you will see all the signs reversed. If possible, practice signing with another person.
Recommended order of learning
The first part of ASL you should learn is the alphabet. You should then do some finger-spelling practice, starting with two-letter words then moving on to three or four letter words. This will allow you to sign any word in the English language. After that, you should then learn the numbers in ASL. Lastly, you can then start to learn specific signs.