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7 Simple (And A Few Rigorous) Ways To Learn American Sign Language

7 Simple (And A Few Rigorous) Ways To Learn American Sign Language

Spoken word poet Asher Roth once asked:, “If my voice didn’t work, but my hands could talk, would you take the time to see what a deaf man thought?”

These powerful words show how rewarding learning American Sign Language can be for those who need to use it, and those who yearn to communicate with people of all walks of life. People seeking to learn ASL can use a variety of resources to connect them with an entire community through the use of this common language.

Using YouTube

YouTube is an incredible resource for almost any educational content. There are many channels dedicated solely to teaching American Sign Language, and many channels have entire sections dedicated to the subject.

1. Lifeprint Lessons

Lifeprint Lessons on YouTube offers an absolutely massive collection of video lessons on American Sign Language. The videos range in length from one to two minute quick fixes to full 40-minute lessons.

The channel also offers an entire playlist of American Sign Language medical terminology, which is extremely helpful for doctors and nurses, who face emergency situations daily.

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2. Rob Neilson’s YouTube Channel

This channel presents a playlist of 20 American Sign Language lessons that are no longer than 15 minutes each. While not as in-depth as Lifeprint Lessons, Rob’s videos are topic specific, such as family and holiday topics, and also the occasional joke.

He also has a disclaimer to those looking to learn ASL, as many of the videos on YouTube contain unintentional inaccuracies that sometimes distort translations.

Mobile Apps

There are also many apps which are intended to help the budding American Sign Language speaker get started. As with most apps, many of these are free to try with the option of unlocking more features for a small fee.

3. ASL Coach

ASL Coach is available on iTunes, and offers illustrations showing the letters of the alphabet in American Sign Language. As you play (yes, it’s a game), you may increase the speed of the flashcards to build muscle memory and dexterity. For only $.99, you can purchase the full version, which gives users more options for the game.

4. Marlee Signs

This one is an app featuring Marlee Matlin, an award-winning actress who is also deaf. The app includes instructions on the alphabet and basic phrases and common expressions through videos created by Matlin herself.

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There is also an option to slow the video down for pinpoint accuracy, and you can download a variety of lesson packs for just $1.99 each.

Internet Resources

The web provides a variety of sites dedicated to teaching American Sign Language as well. Many are free to use, while some offer trial periods and lesson snippets for you to check out before you purchase the entire package.

5. ASL Pro

This website provides an assortment of activities for anyone wanting to learn American Sign Language. The website boasts dictionaries, lessons and quizzes, games, and songs, as well as a variety of videos to learn from.

The site has recently been updated for use on mobile phones and tablets as well. You can use the service for free, as long as you are willing to sign up. You may also donate to the service via Paypal and credit card.

6. Curious.com

Curious.com offers four American Sign Language lessons and also contains various other instructional resources. Users are free to sample the material, which includes videos, activities, and assignments at the beginner level.

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You can sign into the site via Facebook or email. But to get the full extent of the lessons, you must sign up for Curious Plus for a monthly fee. However, this gives you access to not just these lessons, but to everything else Curious has to offer.

7. Start ASL

This incredible site is a vast resource for all things related to American Sign Language. Start ASL offers lessons divided into units, along with workbook activities for each. Lessons are provided for a variety of age groups, beginning at the infant level.

Start ASL also provides historical information regarding American sign language, as well as support and resources for the deaf community. Users may also donate to this website via credit card.

Schools and Universities

There are many colleges throughout the country for those looking to make a career out of their use and love of American Sign Language.

According to Niche, the top ranked schools offering Associate’s Degrees in ASL are:

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– Grassmont College in El Cajon, CA
– Antelope Valley College in Lancaster, CA
– Vincennes University in Vincennes, IN
– Sierra College in Rocklin, CA
– Crafton Hils College in Yucaipa, CA

Students working toward a Bachelor’s Degree can choose from many other institutions, including:

– Gallaudet Universit in Washington, DC
– Utah Valley University in Orem, UT
– Madonna University in Livonia, MI

Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

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Matt Duczeminski

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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

How often have you said something simple, only to have the person who you said this to misunderstand it or twist the meaning completely around? Nodding your head in affirmative? Then this means that you are being unclear in your communication.

Communication should be simple, right? It’s all about two people or more talking and explaining something to the other. The problem lies in the talking itself, somehow we end up being unclear, and our words, attitude or even the way of talking becomes a barrier in communication, most of the times unknowingly. We give you six common barriers to communication, and how to get past them; for you to actually say what you mean, and or the other person to understand it as well…

The 6 Walls You Need to Break Down to Make Communication Effective

Think about it this way, a simple phrase like “what do you mean” can be said in many different ways and each different way would end up “communicating” something else entirely. Scream it at the other person, and the perception would be anger. Whisper this is someone’s ear and others may take it as if you were plotting something. Say it in another language, and no one gets what you mean at all, if they don’t speak it… This is what we mean when we say that talking or saying something that’s clear in your head, many not mean that you have successfully communicated it across to your intended audience – thus what you say and how, where and why you said it – at times become barriers to communication.[1]

Perceptual Barrier

The moment you say something in a confrontational, sarcastic, angry or emotional tone, you have set up perceptual barriers to communication. The other person or people to whom you are trying to communicate your point get the message that you are disinterested in what you are saying and sort of turn a deaf ear. In effect, you are yelling your point across to person who might as well be deaf![2]

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The problem: When you have a tone that’s not particularly positive, a body language that denotes your own disinterest in the situation and let your own stereotypes and misgivings enter the conversation via the way you talk and gesture, the other person perceives what you saying an entirely different manner than say if you said the same while smiling and catching their gaze.

The solution: Start the conversation on a positive note, and don’t let what you think color your tone, gestures of body language. Maintain eye contact with your audience, and smile openly and wholeheartedly…

Attitudinal Barrier

Some people, if you would excuse the language, are simply badass and in general are unable to form relationships or even a common point of communication with others, due to their habit of thinking to highly or too lowly of them. They basically have an attitude problem – since they hold themselves in high esteem, they are unable to form genuine lines of communication with anyone. The same is true if they think too little of themselves as well.[3]

The problem: If anyone at work, or even in your family, tends to roam around with a superior air – anything they say is likely to be taken by you and the others with a pinch, or even a bag of salt. Simply because whenever they talk, the first thing to come out of it is their condescending attitude. And in case there’s someone with an inferiority complex, their incessant self-pity forms barriers to communication.

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The solution: Use simple words and an encouraging smile to communicate effectively – and stick to constructive criticism, and not criticism because you are a perfectionist. If you see someone doing a good job, let them know, and disregard the thought that you could have done it better. It’s their job so measure them by industry standards and not your own.

Language Barrier

This is perhaps the commonest and the most inadvertent of barriers to communication. Using big words, too much of technical jargon or even using just the wrong language at the incorrect or inopportune time can lead to a loss or misinterpretation of communication. It may have sounded right in your head and to your ears as well, but if sounded gobbledygook to the others, the purpose is lost.

The problem: Say you are trying to explain a process to the newbies and end up using every technical word and industry jargon that you knew – your communication has failed if the newbie understood zilch. You have to, without sounding patronizing, explain things to someone in the simplest language they understand instead of the most complex that you do.

The solution: Simplify things for the other person to understand you, and understand it well. Think about it this way: if you are trying to explain something scientific to a child, you tone it down to their thinking capacity, without “dumbing” anything down in the process.[4]

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Emotional Barrier

Sometimes, we hesitate in opening our mouths, for fear of putting our foot in it! Other times, our emotional state is so fragile that we keep it and our lips zipped tightly together lest we explode. This is the time that our emotions become barriers to communication.[5]

The problem: Say you had a fight at home and are on a slow boil, muttering, in your head, about the injustice of it all. At this time, you have to give someone a dressing down over their work performance. You are likely to transfer at least part of your angst to the conversation then, and talk about unfairness in general, leaving the other person stymied about what you actually meant!

The solution: Remove your emotions and feelings to a personal space, and talk to the other person as you normally would. Treat any phobias or fears that you have and nip them in the bud so that they don’t become a problem. And remember, no one is perfect.

Cultural Barrier

Sometimes, being in an ever-shrinking world means that inadvertently, rules can make cultures clash and cultural clashes can turn into barriers to communication. The idea is to make your point across without hurting anyone’s cultural or religious sentiments.

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The problem: There are so many ways culture clashes can happen during communication and with cultural clashes; it’s not always about ethnicity. A non-smoker may have problems with smokers taking breaks; an older boss may have issues with younger staff using the Internet too much.

The solution: Communicate only what is necessary to get the point across – and eave your personal sentiments or feelings out of it. Try to be accommodative of the other’s viewpoint, and in case you still need to work it out, do it one to one, to avoid making a spectacle of the other person’s beliefs.[6]

Gender Barrier

Finally, it’s about Men from Mars and Women from Venus. Sometimes, men don’t understand women and women don’t get men – and this gender gap throws barriers in communication. Women tend to take conflict to their graves, literally, while men can move on instantly. Women rely on intuition, men on logic – so inherently, gender becomes a big block in successful communication.[7]

The problem: A male boss may inadvertently rub his female subordinates the wrong way with anti-feminism innuendoes, or even have problems with women taking too many family leaves. Similarly, women sometimes let their emotions get the better of them, something a male audience can’t relate to.

The solution: Talk to people like people – don’t think or classify them into genders and then talk accordingly. Don’t make comments or innuendos that are gender biased – you don’t have to come across as an MCP or as a bra-burning feminist either. Keep gender out of it.

And remember, the key to successful communication is simply being open, making eye contact and smiling intermittently. The battle is usually half won when you say what you mean in simple, straightforward words and keep your emotions out of it.

Reference

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