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1 Week American Sign Language Challenge (Oct. 2017, 2nd session)

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Welcome! You are not required to have attended previous sessions to participate.

This challenge will run between one and a few times a month. It is not an XP challenge and there are no lingot prizes. But, it is a great opportunity for you to dip your toes in and sample American Sign Language and receive encouragement to continue your studies.

The challenge is to complete your goal (whatever it may be) of ASL study per day, for the next seven days. If you aren't already familiar with what resources are available, feel free to use the ones I am using. I've also included additional study options below my daily chart, and some learning tips.

To join, just leave a comment with your week's chart and update it daily as shown below. Begin the chart list with the day your started. Set your own goals or borrow mine. After completing your goal for the day, edit your comment and paste this ✔️ next to the accomplished goal.

For my goal, I'll be doing one ASL lesson each day. Over the next 7 days, using SignSchool (levels pictured in the image above), which is currently in beta and free. (Thank you bilingual_ish for bringing this resource to my attention!)

My Goal: 1 Lesson per day.

Saturday: SignSchool Lesson 5 ✔️
Sunday: Lesson (Meep! No lesson, but, I spent around 2 hours using only sign with two friends at a corn maze! So, I'll count that ^_^ ✔️)
Monday: Lesson 6 ✔️
Tuesday: Lesson 7 ✔️
Wednesday: Lesson 8 ✔️
Thursday: Lesson 9 ✔️
Friday: Lesson 10 Missed!
Saturday: Lesson 10: ✔️

Other study resources:

For absolute beginners:
Start by building some early confidence: First 100 Signs
Also available:
- Introduction to fingerspelling and chart, (Enlarged chart).
- Learning tool
- Practice tool
In addition to:
- Facial expressions: Basic, essential expressions
- Eyebrows for Yes/No
- Eyebrows for Wh Questions
- Eyebrows for Rhetorical questions

For advanced beginners to intermediate and advanced intermediate learners
The Bill Vicars (see channel's playlist for options organized by levels), corresponds with the website LifePrint, which offers many free ASL resources. Unlike the Youtube channel, the website offers cultural insights and vocabulary lists that link to a video of each sign on the list. However, the Youtube channel has more videos than the website. This is why I recommend using both.

One strategy I've used was to copy and paste the LifePrint vocab lists into an Evernote list on my computer. I downloaded the Evernote app (free version) onto my phone. Then, I sync the computer list with the phone app. When I'm riding the bus or waiting for an appointment, I can open the list on my phone and try to remember each of the signs. If I get stuck, I just click the word and a video showing me the sign pops up.

Hand Care Don't tense your hand or bend your wrists at tight angles. ABC Fingerspelling charts do because it helps reduce sign ambiguity for people who are just learning. Experienced, on the other hand, will understand you when you use relaxed signing. So, stay completely relaxed. If a sign causes your hand to hurt or cranks your wrist etc. at an odd angle, don't do it. Relax, relax, relax. Pain and discomfort are bad.

Caution: When learning ASL through online resources, check the credentials of the person who has created the resource. The internet is full of low and bad quality ASL tips, lessons, and music videos created by beginners and even people who are using SE and SEE labeled as ASL. These are completely different languages! One reason I like Life Print and the Bill Vicars Youtube channel is because the creator, Dr. Vicars, has a Ph.D in Deaf Education and is himself part of the Deaf community.

October 13, 2017



Signing up. If possible, I'll try to take Lesson 1 - Lesson 4 together to keep up. If turns out too much I'll walk with a slower pace and (edit: or) do only lessons 1-7 this week.

Saturday: Lesson 1 + Lesson 2 ✔️

Sunday: Lesson 3 + Friends Lesson 1 ✔️

Monday: Friends Lesson 2 + Lesson 3 ✔️

Tuesday: Lesson 4 + Lesson 5 ✔️

Wednesday: Lesson 6 ✔️

Thursday: Lesson 7 ✔️

Friday: Lesson 8 ✔️


This challenge has been easier than the previous one. I liked the bite-sized lessons from SignSchool; they were very newbie-friendly. SignSchool proved to me that an ASL course is indeed possible on duolingo. This week also introduced to me the concept of different possible variations of the same sign, and I am very grateful to both of you, sweilan and Usagiboy, for your valuable comments and your encouragement. I'm glad I'm not doing this alone, and I look forward to the next challenge.
Thank you


More and more ASL stuff... :)


LeiferB, I plan to keep ASL on the radar. I hope it will encourage more people to learn it, and inspire people who have resources (money, tech skills, ASL fluency, etc.) to invest in making ASL learning resources more widely available. (Hopefully, one day this will include sign language courses on Duolingo) ^_~


Would love that!


I was expecting nothing less from you! You're one of the most passionate people for ASL I have ever met on Duo. I would also like an ASL course on Duo, just cause it's so amazing. I really hope that you keep making these awesome posts about ASL on Duo. :)


LeiferB, I'd love a partner in crime, so to speak. We could always use more people creating ASL related discussion posts. Things about the history, culture, language, and learning resources. One thing I try to be careful of, however is posting too often. It is why I've now decided not to post this challenge more than 2 times a month. I want to encourage people to consider ASL as an option, but not to annoy them. But, if you were to put up a post even once a month for something cool you've learned about ASL, it would be a big help... :D


Oh hey! SignSchool has a streak tracker!

Also, gosh I'm so glad y'all are doing this with me. It is 11:28pm and I am tired. I didn't know if I'd be able to complete this challenge or the XP Bunny challenge. But, I managed to complete them both because, well, because these are challenges. So, thanks! :)


I'm in! I did LifePrint last time, so I'll give SignSchool a try this time (one lesson per day).

Sat: ✔️
Sun: ✔️
Mon: ✔️
Tues: ✔️
Wed: ✔️
Thurs: ✔️
Fri: ✔️


The SignSchool beginner lessons at least are much less time consuming compared to LifePrint's videos. I haven't checked out the Intermediate or Advanced lessons yet. If you are, let me know what you think of them?


Much less time consuming! Enough so that I might end up working ahead of my goals this week, depending on how much time I have.

I haven't tried the Intermediate or Advanced lessons yet, either. I learned the fingerspelling alphabet out of a book when I was in the fifth grade, and that combined with the LifePrint lessons I did last week and the SignSchool stuff I've done so far is pretty much the entirety of the ASL instruction I've ever had. So I'm still firmly in the Beginner stuff, but (assuming we keep doing ASL challenges, and I hope we do) I'll let you know when I get there!


Woof. SEE stands for Signed Exact English. It has an ugly history antagonistic towards American Sign Language and Deaf culture.


Now do you see? :p


oh punny pun pun! lol


Signed Exact English. Some use this to teach English to Deaf kids. IMHO, many Deaf people abhor SEE. It does not follow ASL grammar rules and often bastardizes ASL signs. I refuse to learn SEE or use it because it strains the eyes, is wordy, and removes all the great features of ASL - such as using facial expressions and use of classifiers. If I were to go to a local Deaf function and started using SEE instead of ASL, I would be pretty much shunned.


I just noticed that the sign for Well as taught by Dr. Vicars uses both hands, while that in SignSchool's lesson used one and it looked like Thank you. Also, the there were two signers in the lesson, one who put their fingertips on their chin, and another whose finger tips touched their mouth. I'm a bit confused as to how precise I need to be and which one to use (although just intuitively, I feel more in favor of Dr. Vicars).


I hope you don't mind that I keep adding to these comments about differences in signs I'm seeing. Sign school uses this for "mean" (from the verb, to mean) https://www.signschool.com/modules/friends/clarifying/learn/0/0/. I don't use this one because it strains my wrist and the muscle in my forearm. Instead of my left palm (I am right handed) facing the sky, it faces the right. Meanwhile, the two fingers of my right hand move against my left palm in the same motion as in their sign. These changes take away so much of the strain. :)


Quite the opposite, I’m grateful for receiving additional information, because they make me less anxious about the different possibilities of signing a certain expression.
I tried both ways of signing Mean, and your version definitely puts much less strain on the wrist. If I may ask, did you improvise it? Or was it a sign that you learnt differently elsewhere?


I did not improvise it. It is commonly used in this region. However, I improvised how I fingerspell E, because I have a lot of hand pain in general just from writing and typing so much for uni and then life after. Instead of drawing all three fingers up above my thumb, I only draw up my pointer and middle finger, save rare occasions. (It would be an N if I were to drape it over my thumb.) Fluent signers generally understand it fine, so long as I'm careful not to let it look like an O. My friend squinted their eyebrows for a second and asked me to fingerspell the word again, and now follows it fine.

When I was first starting to sign M and N, they also hurt my hands. When I was watching a video of a person doing the Bible in ASL, I learned a helpful alteration to both. (To practice receptive fingerspelling, I visited their video on the Book of Matthew. It covers the lineage from Abraham to Jesus. Since names are fingerspelled unless there is a substitute name sign, there was a lot of fingerspelling. The signer was using a modified M and N. Instead of curling the fingers over the thumb, the fingers rested on the thumb and stuck out. I used that for a long while, until my hands adjusted to all of the other fingerspelling and something relaxed in them a little over time. Now, my fingers can relax over my thumb. Again, experienced signers had no trouble following, and newer signers quickly adjusted to understanding me. :)


Your signing of "mean" is absolutely correct. SignSchool's version looks sort of strange. Actually, SignSchool's version looks like "stand up and turn around" - LOL.

Also, the sign for "intend" looks almost exactly like "mean". The sign for "intend" is a combination of "think" + "mean". https://www.handspeak.com/word/search/index.php?id=1135

Also, if you want to use "mean" as an adjective, this is the correct sign to use: http://www.lifeprint.com/asl101/pages-signs/m/mean.htm


Two hands or one hand? Using two hands for signs like good/well, mother, father, etc is more formal than one handed. A study was done in the Deaf Black community and it was observed that Deaf Blacks within the community use both hands more often than Deaf Non-Blacks. But generally, one handed is more casual.

For "thank you", it is more formal to be touching one's mouth. Simply touching one's chin is just a personal variance. But in informal, casual conversation, it can even be done at sternum level. I know someone who signs thank you with a three hand-shape. She presses the middle and and pointer fingers to her chin and then simply pulls her hand back, pulling her two back sharply and the hand simply looks like the sign for number ten but the hand is angled.

The sign for "know" is formally done on the side of the head. But informally, it can be be done on one's cheek, chin, or even shoulder. What is interesting about the sign for "know" done at the shoulder - it is also a sign for "remind". One knows the difference between "know" and "remind" through context. For example, if someone taps himself on the shoulder and points to himself, he is telling you to remind him of something. But if he points to himself and taps his shoulder, he is telling you he knows.

But not all signs work this way. For example, the sign for "dumb" or "stupid" is done on the forehead or the side of the head. Doing the sign on one's cheek or jaw changes the meaning to "menstrual period".

The more formal versions of signs are usually taught. Often, if only a casual version of sign is shown without context, its definition could be lost.


Arachnje, I don't think either is wrong, but instead comes down to regional variation. So far, the signers I've met have been able to follow me, even if I am speaking a variation different from their home town. So, they will probably recognize what you are trying to communicate, and you will adjust your signing to match theirs with more contact. If they don't recognize it, there are ways to fill in that missing piece, fingerspelling, paper, etc. So, don't let uncertainty hold you up. :)

Where I live, signs are migrating towards the middle of the face. Signs like You know/Don't know are both done at the cheek here, instead of at the side of the forehead.

As for Good/Well, I haven't seen anyone touch their face at all and are usually half a foot or so below the chin at the top of it. However, it can be closer to the face to express more emphasis.

My friend recognized two of the signers in SignSchool from a Deaf school in Washington. (I forgot to ask if it was Washington State or DC. My bad. :P I will temporarily guess DC, because my friend travels there nearly every summer.) Dr. Vicars teaches a version common in at least San Diego, Utah, and Oregon (It's not necessarily limited to those areas. But signers I've encountered from all three areas seem to match 99% of how I've learned to sign from him. Albeit, the signing is more relaxed, and again, migrated towards the middle of the face in some instances.)

A difference I've noticed from SignSchool is that the sign for Sign the pointer fingers go forward away from the body in a circular motion. In my region, the fingers move backwards towards the body.


Thank you so much for explaining. I will need to learn as much relaxing as signing to be good at this. Oh, and I too noticed the forward-versus-backward Sign, but I thought it was just me who wasn't focused enough.


Edit: I've corrected the link for the Lifeprint page.

Oh hey, this sign is very different from what I'm familiar with. It is just like a shaking of the hand that makes an L shape with pointer finger and thumb. I've never seen this version before.

Since I have an Android app created by http://www.spreadthesign.com. I looked up "later" and they use the same version I'm used to. So, I did a follow up google search and, unsurprisingly, LifePrint demonstrated both versions Here. Again, if I had used either and someone didn't understand me, I could find a way to clarify. :)


I guess like with spoken languages, whether or not your expression gets across to the"listener" will depend on your fluency and theirs as well. When I speak English with Japanese or Chinese people (non-fluent ones, of course), I noticed that I often need to limit my vocabulary, sometimes to the bare-bones minimum, to avoid confusion and misinterpretation. Now I'm wondering what that minimum is with ASL.

But, an SL dictionary? Wow, I've stumbled upon my second gold mine lurking in the forum since yesterday (the first being Clozemaster here).
Did you check out the JSL for Later? I think I'll have a lot of fun switching my brain when I (hopefully) start studying it in the future.

P.S. The second Later isn't from Lifeprint. You linked SignSchool's Later twice.


Arachnje, a small update on the sign Later.

I asked my friend about it. They said "If you use the two handed sign for later, you'll look like a hearing person. These days, Deaf people use the one handed sign."

I hadn't realized this because my friend and I never say "See you later" to each other. But, the ASL students in the ASL club I've signed with do. My friend said it is because their textbook series, Signing Naturally, hasn't been updated since the 70s or so. It is full of older versions of signs that are becoming outdated, including the two handed sign for "later". My friend assured me that Deaf people would still recognize either version of that sign you decide to use.

PS Thanks for catching that link. I've corrected it!


For Slow https://www.signschool.com/modules/friends/clarifying/learn/0/16/, I learned a version where the left hand isn't in a fist. Instead, they are extended, but in a relaxed fashion. It is good that there are both of these version. I imagine there are some people who cannot fully extend their fingers out like that without pain. And for me, keeping my fingers extended and relaxed feels better. :) (I don't plan to point out every variation I find. But, it is good to emphasize that taking care not to hurt yourself with sign really is encouraged and there are often alternative versions to accomodate. :)


The Slow that Dr. Vicars teaches seems to be done with the two hands arranged across each other, unlike with the parallel hands from the one you linked. Is that also a variation?


IMHO Dr Vicar's sign looks more "correct" than SchoolSign's. SchoolSign's looks extremely informal.

Whether the extended hand is in a fist-shape or not is a personal preference. Most of the time, when I sign "slow" I use a fist-shape.


Thank you for sharing your experience with us!


sweilan, if there are formal and informal ways to sign a certain expression, would a signer risk being considered rude if they signed using the wrong way at the wrong occasion?


Interpreters strive to sign formally while they are working. The reason, they want to make sure they are being understood correctly.

If one is making a speech, one should try to sign formally.

If one is sitting around chatting, one can sign informally.

When one signs informally, it basically means one is relaxed and in a sort of "kick off your shoes" mood. Also, a lot of puns can be made signing informally. Well, maybe not puns - but Deaf humor.

People learning to sign are given a lot of leeway. And I mean a lot! They are expected to make mistakes. Also, students usually are shown the formal way to sign so they usually don't know how to sign informally.

If a Deaf person starts signing informally to you, take it as a HUGE compliment. It means the Deaf person is assuming you are skilled and not "just a beginner" and he is comfortable signing with you. If you start signing informally to a Deaf person, he will simply assume that you know what you're doing.

If you start using regionalisms and old signs, you'll be thought of as "one of the gang".

Also, Arachnje, don't be afraid to ask a Deaf person questions about ASL. Most will be more than happy to help out!!


Oh, yes that one! That's basically the one I'm describing, except, I don't use as sharp of a perpendicular. (Not for hand care, just because I learned it with a very slightly different angle.)

Also, just to clarify to anyone who might be following our conversation, the people signing in SignSchool aren't wrong. They are far more knowledgeable signers than I am who are demonstrating very crisp version of signs so it is easier for newer signers to note and memorize. I'm definitely not intending to claim more authority. :)


IMHO, the sign being used at SignSchool looks like the sign for "pet". I would have only guess it would mean "slow" by context.

I've always seen the sign for "slow" being done with the finger tips starting at the other hand's wrist and move up the forearm. Also, the moving hand is in a claw hand-shape. And if one wants to emphasize "very slow", one would grimace and slowly move the hand.


@Usagiboy: I can't seem to reply directly to your comment so I'll reply here.
What you said made me realize that a hearing person probably understands SL differently from a deaf person. During the previous ASL challenge, I came across something that Dr. Vicars said about such differences, and your comment seems to confirm that:

I also think that understanding the different dialects of ASL will be necessary for me understand it well. For now, I worry when I encounter the same expression signed in two different ways, but I hope to become more confident with time and exposure to different resources.


That is exactly what I was trying to demonstrate in the OP under Hand Care. Thank you for that screenshot. I'd like to use it in the future.

As for being worried about something signed more than one way, it is a common anxiety among newer signers. That anxiety will relax over time, especially if you are able to spend a lot of time among signers. You'll learn to trust that you can communicate, even without learning all of the variations. Experienced signers will understand you, and you can ask experienced signers for clarification if you don't understand a variation they use. And, sometimes context will even sort it out for you without you having to ask. :)


Thank you for the encouragement, and it’s good to know that what I’m experiencing is normal for beginners. Also, by all means, please feel free to use the screenshot and any other material I share in the future.


I am not a skilled signer (because I was learning and then went and forgot a ton of stuff), but I am not a new signer in the same way as people who are just beginning to learn. So, I've gone through these same anxieties and come out the other side along with some friends who were learning along with me. :)



Oh wow! I can't believe my week for this ended yesterday! Well, I didn't meet yesterday's goal. So, I did that lesson today.

How did it go? Do you plan to keep practicing ASL? Which resources did you use? If you plan to continue, do you think you'll keep using the same resources or try something different?

I did ok this week. I missed my goal a couple of days but I am still on target overall. I've really enjoyed SignSchool this week. So, I plan to continue using it. I'm already looking forward to next month's ASL challenges. I'm going to keep up this month even without the challenge though. I feel like I've got some good momentum going. :)


I've really enjoyed it too. I had more time for it than I expected this week, so I worked ahead of my goal a bit, which is heartening. I'm going to go back to LifePrint eventually, but for the moment I'm still working at SignSchool, and I'm going to try to keep my momentum up (using one site or the other, or maybe both alternately) between now and the next ASL challenge.


KateVinee, I'm excited that you've decided to keep going with ASL.

I got really far with LifePrint. I made it through video 55 and it improved my ability to communicate in sign so much. So, I definitely recommend keeping it among the resources you use. The advantage of SignSchool is it is much more engaging. So, I imagine it will have a higher retention rate. So, don't let go of that one either. It's also still expanding. They recently had a major update and added a ton of new lesson content.

Looking forward to seeing you for our next two challenges next month. :)


Much like with the 100XP a day challenge, I tend to relapse right after the challenge. But I'll hopefully rebound today, and I'll continue with SignSchool for now. When I participated in the challenge for the first time, It was shocking how I did not remember most of the things I had studied before that challenge, and it spoke to how inadequate my resources had been (well, and how little effort I invested into finding and using resources, I must admit). So, for now I will not search for new resources until I am more experienced and able to judge the suitability of what I find. I will start reviewing what I learnt from SignSchool this week, and I signed up for their Sign of the day email, and downloaded their app, but unfortunately it does not sync progress with the site and does not even have the same structure (it's more like a dictionary with videos). My pace will most likely be slower until the next challenge, but I guess getting back on track is one of the purposes of these challenges.


Don't forget to celebrate your successes. This week was a success. Nothing that happens after changes that. If your studies fall through until next month's challenge, that is it's own thing. And, if you are not confident you can go the entire time between doing lessons every day, don't set that as your goal. Set a goal you know you can achieve between now and then. That way, when the next challenge comes, you are not dispirited. :)


I’ll remember that. Thank you :)


Hi folks, the November session for this challenge is now up! :D https://www.duolingo.com/comment/25182492

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