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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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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

Reference

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