To be or….nope, not to be

One of the most interesting and unique parts of ASL is the fact that the verb “to be” is absent from the language.  This is something that you have already learned, but may not be aware that you know.

For example:

The sentence “I am going to the store” is signed as “STORE I GO”.  “I am” is missing and is only added when we translate the sentence in to English.

This is true for every conjugation of the verb.  “I went to the store” becomes “STORE I GO FINISH”, “We are going to the store” becomes “STORE WE GO”, and so forth

This affects much more than you would originally think.  The statement “This is who I am,” becomes simply a gesture to your self.

“Who are you?” Becomes “WHO YOU?” “That will be fun!” is “FUN FUTURE”.

In order to understand what is being signed, you need to have a clear grasp of the ASL timeline, which, luckily, is the next grammar lesson!

Ways to Practice Your Signing Skills

Although you may feel that you are making some progress, sometimes it is easy to get rusty or run out of ideas for how you can improve your signing skills. Rather than repetitive activities, why not try something new and have fun at the same time?

The more straightforward ways would be to watch ASL videos online or practice your ASL skills with a friend. For those that would like to try something that involves more risk-taking,  consider attending deaf social events or become a tutor to someone just learning how to sign. This way you not only improve your skills, but have the bonus of interacting with others in the community and making important connections as well.

One of the best and most entertaining ways to improve your signing ability is to try your hand at signing songs. Many of us are surrounded by music in our daily life, perhaps the next time you hear a song you might challenge yourself to sign it on the spot. Please do not try this method while driving though J. Good luck and enjoy finding other new and interesting ways to test your skills.

Dedication to Learning ASL

Everyone’s heard the expression, “A job worth doing, is worth doing well.”  Here at ASLdeafined, we also believe that “Your dedication to completing that job is your guarantee that you will achieve tremendous results.”

When committing yourself to a task, make that commitment using realistic goals.  Many people will declare their intent to lose 10 pounds a week for the next ten weeks, but after losing just 3 pounds the first month, they give up in failure.  Their expectations were too lofty, too high-in-the-clouds, and just plain too unrealistic.  When learning American Sign Language (ASL), the same example can be used.  Some people are so excited and anxious to learn this new language that they’ll set goals-of-completion so high that they find it impossible to maintain that level of learning.  Within a month or two, their learning will grind to a halt.  I have met so many people who will come up to me and say, “I learned some sign language once, years ago.”  I’ll ask, “Great.  What signs do you know?”  They’ll explain with a twinge of embarrassment that, “Oh, I forgot most of it.”

“The world is filled with good intentions,” is another wonderful expression that doesn’t require any kind of explanation.  However, as it applies to learning ASL, people have had all the good intentions of learning the language, but for one reason or another, just never got around to it.  Many parents of deaf children have pledged themselves to learn ASL, but life just sort of got in the way.  The weeks melted into months; months into years; and, years into far too long of a time to wait.  “It’s never to late to learn,” is another great expression that is appropriate to use here.  Since we can’t re-visit the past and recoup that lost time, there’s no better time than the present, to rededicate ourselves to the task of learning ASL.

When you do make that decision to start learning, set realistic levels of expectation.  You may decide to learn only 10 signs per week, or 40 per month; 520 per year.   Most people could maintain a fairly decent conversation in sign language using those 520 words.  The KEY is to DO IT.  Don’t just say you’re going to learn the language, but DO IT.  Log your 10 words per week.  Practice them.  Maintain this list, and keep it growing to 20, 30, and 40.  You’re on your way.

Learn that it’s natural to want to make an excuse not to learn this week’s lessons.  Don’t allow that attitude to derail your learning.  Keep that list of words with you and practice.  There are so many times during an average day when you can find the time to practice that list of words, such as sitting in traffic, during TV commercials, or while at rest.  It only takes a few minutes, if that is all the time you have to allocate towards learning.  The bottom line is:  Don’t get discouraged because your goals are too high.  If you don’t have the time to learn 100 words a week, then don’t make that your goal.  You can always review your progress, and adjust accordingly, too.  Right?

Good luck.  Dedicate yourself to achieving now, and remember, “a job worth doing, is worth doing well.”

New Feature on Blog…

Mercy and I are pleased to announce a new feature to our blog.  If you viewed the most recent post that happened to be a question from a reader titled, “Is there such a thing as a “dominant” and “non-dominant hand-rule?”, you may have noticed the blue dotted underlined words.  Did your curiosity get the best of you, and you were enticed to click on the words? We are hoping you did.   If you did, you noticed a video appeared with the correct sign for that underlined word.

ASLdeafined now has the ability to share postings with you that utilizes our 9,000 + video dictionary, incorporating certain videos with posts.   As you know, a concept is better emphasized by showing a quick video, or some sort of visual aid.  Our goal at ASLdeafined is to share information that you will be able to use in your classroom, or share with a friend.

We hope you will enjoy this new feature to our blog.  If you have any ideas, or features you would like to see either on the main website (ASLdeafined), or on our blog, please let us know.  We will be happy to consider them.

Socializing With the Deaf Community

ASLdeafined offers the tools for you to learn vocabulary, sentence structure, fingerspelling, numbers, multiple meaning words, ASL grammar, etc.  While learning all of this information, it is also imperative that learners interact with the Deaf community.

There should be a number of deaf events in your area for you to attend year-round.  Look online to find out where such events take place.  Also, many times, there are groups of students who meet on a regular basis to practice their ASL skills.  Now, some people may feel intimidated by their sign language skills, or who are afraid they will sign the wrong thing when communicating in ASL.  Well, believe me, we have all been there.  I have made so many mistakes while learning sign language.  However, like any language, it is part of the learning process.  Here are some tips on how to improve your sign language ability while interacting with Deaf people:


  • Make sure your signs are clear.  Try your best to execute each sign to its fullest.  This is important for beginners.  Years from now, you may be able to change your delivery a bit.
  • Fingerspell each word clearly, making sure you do not bounce your letters.

o   Use Fingerspelling for proper nouns (persons, places, and things)

o   Fingerspell words that you may not know.  It is okay to fingerspell a word or two that you do not know how to sign.  However, it is not okay to fingerspell your entire conversation.

  • Make sure you have great facial expressions.  The more relaxed you are when talking with a deaf person, the better you will do.  Remember, deaf people will not bite.
  • If you sign something wrong, it is likely the deaf person will tell you the right sign.  When this happens, remember what the deaf person told you.  Do not forget it.  If it helps, make a list of new words you learn on a daily basis.
  • Always thank the deaf person for their time.  When you do, they are more likely to be willing to talk with you again.

These are some helpful tips on how to improve your American Sign Language (ASL) ability.  The more you practice, the better you will become.  Learn all the vocabulary and structure you can, and go out and use it.  If you have any questions about ASL, please let Mercy and I know.  We will try our best to answer your questions.  And, remember, to always have fun.  Enjoy learning this new language, and your interacting with the Deaf Community.  You’ll quickly learn how special these engagements are.  There aren’t a lot of people that know ASL.  You are one of the luckiest ones, and your efforts to learn the language will be appreciated very much.