First ASL Lesson

Welcome to our vibrant, rich world of language and culture -- American Sign Language and Deaf people! This is only the beginning of a long journey, depending on how far you'll be going.

We hope you will appreciate our unique, rich Deaf/ASL community, language, and culture and recognize us as a cultural-linguistic community. ASL is the core of our cultural-linguistic identity and we highly value our own language.

These personal self-study lessons online are only for your personal interest, self-learning activity, learning journey, or extracurricular resources. It's not a credit course nor it's a formal instruction. Still, you can imagine if you were sitting in a class, learning ASL from a Deaf ASL instructor.

Typically, on the first day of class, your instructor may discuss your course' syllabus at your college/university.

Typically, there is an English-ASL interpreter present on the first day of class (or during a week) to discuss syllabus and so on. After that, instruction is conducted in the target language, ASL. This practice is no different from other foreign (spoken) language courses. English (that is, written) is used for instructions and such. The instructor will not only give an instruction for a task-based activity in written English but also subsequentially instruct in ASL (translation) for the purpose of language exposure in the target language.

Regardless of who may be teaching ASL, practicing "no voice policy" is crucial for some cultural and historical reasons as well as for your visual-spatial training and language acquisition on your part as a learner.

"No voice policy" =/= "no English policy." I should remind that "no voice policy" is not "no English policy." It sounds like a catch-22, but it's not exactly catch-22. While you're not allowed to use vocal English in classroom, you can use other means such as fingerspelling (yes, you can use English only in fingerspelling) or writing with your classmate. Remember ASL is not English. It's a language of its own.

Understand the benefits and reasons of no voice policy in classroom and the importance of practicing it in classes. Most importantly, respect everyone and diversity.

ASL/Deaf Awareness Quiz

The fun part. What's more fun about it is that there is no grade for this quiz. Your instructor may be likely giving your class a Deaf awareness quiz found in Signing Naturally. For a different set of questions, take another awareness quiz.

Many students arrive in ASL class with some common preconceptions about Deaf people and their language. These misconceptions surprise many students. In the end, the awareness quiz often brought excitement to the students about learning more.

Assignment: If you have take your ASL/Deaf Awareness quiz in your class, write your reflection paper about the awareness quiz.

About learning a second language

Learn about the reasons why people learn a foreign or second language, particularly American Sign Language.


Read learning strategies in classroom and practice a few critical strategies to focus on for the next weeks.


A student raises hand, "I am left-handed. Should I sign left-handed or right-handed?" Another, though rarely, raises hand, "I am ambidextrous. Can I use either hands?"

Most people are right-handed, but if you happen to be left-handed, mixed-handed, or ambidextrous. Learn about right-handed and left-handed signing.


How to sign HOMEWORK?

Feeling overwhelmed or nervous? If you are new in ASL classroom, most students in this level share invariably similar experience: excitement, naive, fear, curiosity, etc. You are not alone. It is a normal process. It is a very beginning of your journey.

You're not relaxed, still? Aren't they comforting enough? Okay, here is some pharmakon (remedy) to help ease you up with a good laugh. :)