There are a few great resources out there to help you learn American Sign Language, but not all websites are created equal! How do you know for sure you’re observing accurate Sign Language? How can we tell the difference?
Before signing up for just any ol’ site, go through this quick checklist:
1. How old is the site?
When you are learning about a new language and culture, an outdated textbook is your worst enemy. American Sign Language changes over time- just like any other language! Be sure to check and see that they are updating more than their social media accounts- and that their signs are up to date!
Some websites out there haven’t been updated since 2004! That’s 13 years!
2. Is the site only a dictionary?
While a dictionary can be helpful when you need to look-up a sign or too, this won’t help you learn American Sign Language. ASL is based on concept, therefore it is not a word-for-word translation from English. Try a site with a lesson plan- one that reinforces grammar and receptive skills!
3. Are signs demonstrated by a hearing person, or a Deaf person?
What’s the best way to learn a language? Immersion! But wait- There’s no tickets to Deaf City. Darn! That means your best bet for learning online is to learn from a real Deaf person! If you were learning Spanish, wouldn’t you want to learn from a native Spanish speaker?
Learning ASL doesn’t need to be hard… but it does need to be done right! Be careful out there, and be wary of “outdated textbooks”!