Learning Sign Language for Older Kids (and Parents!) Several of the high schools around here offer ASL as one of languages students can learn in school. I have my own reasons for wanting the kids to learn American Sign Language with me…
The past couple of months, I have struggled to come to terms with becoming completely deaf in one ear. I have been hard of hearing since I was in elementary school (due to ear infections). Then last year my world was turned upside down with ear problems in that left ear. I had six surgeries and in the end this past August, the doctor at Johns Hopkins had to remove everything in my ear — the eardrum, all the bones and the entire balance system. I’m working to get back to normal [I’m doing pretty well actually! ] — and part of that is coming to terms with this huge loss of hearing. I worry quite a bit about what my life will be like if I have the normal loss of hearing that often comes with old age. I want to be sure I am able to communicate with my family and loved ones and figured that signing could help.
Hubby and I have actually always talked about this — so it’s not a huge leap for our family. It’s just a matter of buckling down and taking the time to learn a new language. And, as you may have gathered if you read my post about Signing with Babies and Toddlers, we chose to sign with our (hearing) babies/toddlers. Although the kids don’t remember much, Hubby and I have a pretty good start. We know about 2-300 signs already. We’ll see how it goes, but the kids seem pretty keen at this point. They’ve been learning the ASL alphabet and know how to spell their names. I found this chart at Start ASL, printed it out and laminated it for the kids. The kids already know how to spell their names and the names of their siblings!
Meanwhile, I have been spending time regularly using a wonderful free ASL class put together by Dr. Bill Vicars at ASL University. He has put together 30 minute videos that I’ve found engaging and easy to follow. The pace is just about perfect for me to be able to learn and practice the new signs. I probably know more than the average person going into this, but after just a few lessons I was able to ask and answer basic questions you’d encounter in a conversation. I think the pace would be too fast for my kids, but I think it would be fine for 7th-12th graders.
What’s fabulous about this ASL course is that it is free! You can get started with his video, 100 Basic Signs (American Sign Language) or start right into the lessons. Click on the picture below to take you to Lesson 1.
I have numerous books on ASL, but honestly if I had to recommend anything, I would suggest that you first try the video lessons above.
Another great resource is ASL Pro. It is an online video dictionary. You can look up any word and see it signed. That’s good for learning individual words, but doesn’t help as much for learning how to sign fluently.
If you are interested in learning some sign to use with your Baby or Toddler, this is probably not the best place to start because you would really want more basic signs than these such as milk, drink, more, all done, dog, cat, etc. Visit yesterday’s post about Signing with Babies and Toddler for more about Baby Sign (as it is sometimes called).