Learning ASL: Final reflections and Progress

Throughout this semester, I have taken on the challenge to learn American Sign Language for my learning project in ECMP 355.  I have learned terms mostly from a series of Youtube videos from the channel “Sign Language 101“, and “Smarthands“.  Both of these Youtube channels provide great education and resources to help you learn ASL.  Sign Language 101 is a very informal and personable instruction based learning tool, while Smarthands is geared more towards a younger audience with songs, dances and children instruction.  These are both very good for learning terminology.  I have also recently used Lifeprint, which was very beneficial to my learning.  As I mentioned in a previous post, they provide lessons for language learning, which includes videos, descriptions and pictures of hand movements.  They also recognize different ways of using signs and alternate ways of signing.

It was interesting to rewatch all of my videos to reflect upon my personal growth throughout the semester.  I liked the fact that I tried to include different ways of presenting my content.  I did tutorial videos, voice over videos, songs, a collaboration video and even a silent movie type of video.  My confidence level in front of the camera has definitely gone up, which was one of my own personal goals.

I started out my videos by doing voiceovers or signing songs because I wasn’t comfortable with speaking in front of the camera while filming myself.

In my video about pronouns, I was very nervous because this was my first video actually speaking to the camera.  Note the weird eye contact and fidgeting in the beginning!

My videos on colours and family were somewhat more confident because I had a friend with me, but I still feel like it was a step for becoming more comfortable.

This is the last video I taped myself and spoke at the same time, and I really do believe that my confidence level has gone up in it.  I think my instructional methods can improve, but I think I have more volume and confidence in my voice!

Fingerspelling has been a part of my journey in every topic that I have learned over the semester, which has improved the speed and accuracy of my fingerspelling.  You can definitely see progress from my first time signing my name in my videos.

I think another big improvement with my ASL learning was that I was able to formulate a couple of sentences in a conversation, with the help from Lifeprint!

I was going to sign a song in the end, but I found it to be very difficult because I’m not as advanced with formulating proper sentences yet and I don’t want to get confused with Signed English.  When I was looking at different tutorials for songs in ASL, the people were using signed English, which is not proper American Sign Language.  I felt like it would defeat the purpose of my learning if I learned how to sign according to English.  This journey has been exciting and educational and I plan on continuing my learning of ASL and maybe become fluent in it!


Learning ASL: Conversation!

I took my learning from my lesson from Lifeprint and created a conversation video with myself!  I feel like it is kind of like a silent movie!  Meet Ashley and Amy!  My costume changes are brilliant, I know!

Learning ASL: Lifeprint

While I was looking for new resources for learning ASL, I came across Lifeprint.  I’m sad that I didn’t find it before!  The site provides various free lessons, with short videos demonstrating each sign.  The great thing about it is the fact that they teach you how to put words into sentences right away.  I’ve been learning mostly vocabulary through my journey this semester, so learning a couple sentences was great!  For each lesson, they provide the short video, pictures that show each movement, and an explanation of each sign.  For example, I learned how to ask if someone is deaf.


Handshape: index finger
Location: Starting location:  In general it starts on the cheek near the ear but occasionally you will see it start near the mouth (on the cheek). Ending location:  On the cheek near the mouth.
Orientation:  If done with the right hand, the right palm can face either left or somewhat forward.
Movement:  Small arc.
Variation: If you do this sign while puffing out the cheek, with a larger arc it means, “Deaf, and proud of it!”
Description: Touch your finger on your cheek near your ear, then move your finger in a small arch and touch it near the mouth. Remember, start and end the sign on the cheek. Do not do it on the ear or mouth, but rather near them.

To ask the question, “Are you deaf?”, you do the sign for deaf and point to the person you are asking.  You literally sign, “Deaf you?”.  When you ask questions in ASL, you have to furrow your brows for questions using who, what, why and where and you have to have your brows up for other questions.

I’ve been learning from this site for a while and I will continue to blog the things that I have been learning for the next couple of days!

Learning ASL: Verbs

I haven’t posted a learning project post in a while because I’ve been super busy with unit plans, projects, ect.!  But I have been learning new terms during this time!  Here are the verbs that I have learned!  I realized after uploading it that I mixed up the signs for “x” and “q”.  In the video I say that the sign for “x” is the sign for “q”, so you will see an annotation on the video to correct it..  Well, on the bright side, I guess I learned how to use annotations on Youtube!

I learned these verbs through Sign Language 101 once again on Youtube:

I’m further learning that the alphabet is used all the time for signing words.  For example the word “attempt” is the “a” sign on both hands, while flipping them back and forth.

Learning ASL: Colours and Family Members

This week, I focused on Colours and Family Members in ASL!  I was surprised at how easy colours were to sign if you already know the alphabet, so I decided to take on two lists of vocabulary!  Colours, most of the time, are signed with the letter that colour starts with.  For example, “blue” is signed like the “B” sign, but you shake it to make the word “blue”.  Family members were pretty easy to grasp as well because they built off of some of the pronouns I learned earlier.  For example “daughter” is the combination of the sign “girl” and “baby”.

Here are the two videos I learned from this week.

I’m trying to present the material differently each week and this time, I brought in a special guest!  I taught my roommate how to sign colours and family members and I quizzed her on them!  I still need to work on my presentation skills, but hopefully those progress after doing these a few times!

Thanks to Kara for helping me out with these videos!  Check out Kara’s blog!

Learning Project


In my ECMP 355 class, we have the choice to either create an internet based project or to learn something significant through online resources, while documenting your progress online.  I’ve decided to learn ASL (American Sign Language) for my learning project.  I’m not very talented at learning languages, but I’m willing to give it a shot!  I’m also taking ELNG 200 this semester and it definitely sparked my interest in learning how to sign.  We had the pleasure to have Joanne Weber, a teacher in the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program at Thom collegiate, in our ELNG class and her work with deaf and hard of hearing students is inspiring.  I decided to look at her website and I was pleasantly surprised to see that she has written a poetry book called The Pear Orchid.  Being deaf herself, she explains her struggle with being deaf and she also talks about themes of suffering, childbirth, sexuality, rebirth, language and relationships.  I am definitely considering on purchasing this in the near future because it sounds like a very good read.  Here is a quote from her website:

Inside a deaf woman, a pear orchard grows.
As a child, she whirls among mirrors and pears,
her finger tips brush the blue black branches,
Her gown is sheathed in the rainment of broken lights
splashing over green, red and golden fruit.
She sits in the darkness, waiting for someone to call her
from the orchard.

Having Joanne in my class inspired me to learn how to sign.  If I became fluent in ASL someday, this could be a valuable asset to my teaching and this in the end, could create endless possibilities!  I could teach other students how to sign, deaf or not, and I can interpret to students.  When I was in elementary school, we had a sign language club and this is something I am highly interested in doing in the future.  Exposing students to different languages spoken in Canada (or in your area) is essential to a child’s education.  So why aren’t we required to learn ASL as well as French and English?

I looked at a view resources already, but I have not officially started yet.  What I found interesting so far is how crucial it is to have the right hand and finger position.

In this video, he teaches how to count in ASL, but he also demonstrates the wrong ways of positioning your hands and fingers.  Although it is humorous, I feel like this is an effective way of teaching ASL.  I was looking at other resources and the images seemed unclear and the videos were really fast to follow.  In Rob’s video, I felt more sure about myself because he was presenting me with mistakes I was actually making when attempting to carry out the sign.

In conclusion, I am very excited to start this project, no matter how challenging it may be.  Let me know if you have any tips, thoughts or if you happen to stumble upon some valuable resources for learning ASL!  As I said before, I’m not so great with learning languages, but I feel like I will have a fun time learning ASL since it is more visual and hands on!  Expect a lot more blog posts on my progress and thoughts!