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1 Week American Sign Language Challenge (Nov. 2017, 1st session)

Don't forget to click "Follow discussion".

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

This challenge will run between one and two 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 or continue your studies in the beautiful language of ASL.

The challenge: 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.

Sunday: SignSchool Skill: Friends, Lesson 9 ✔️
Monday: Friends, Lesson 10 ✔️
Tuesday: Skill: Family, The Family ✔️
Wednesday: Family, The Day ✔️
Thursday: Family, Greeting ✔️
Friday: Family, Farewell ✔️
Saturday: Live practice 10:30am-6pm ✔️

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.

Oct. 2017 2nd Session

November 12, 2017



I'll give this a shot, so I signed up. Thanks :)
Sunday: lesson 1 My name✔️
Monday: lesson 2 My signing skill✔️
Tuesday: lesson 3 More about me✔️
Wednesday lesson 4 First encounter✔️
Thursday: lesson 5 Checking in✔️
Friday: lesson 6 Parting ways✔️
Saturday: lesson 7 Clarifying✔️

P.s If anyone could tell me how to make them in a list like Arachnje wrote hers, that would be great. thanks.


Press Enter twice to create a double line space (like I did), or Space twice + Enter to create a single line space. The forum is still acting out, so you may need to refresh the page once or twice if you don’t see the changes immediately.


Ok thanks. I got it :)


DreamOfFlying, congrats on completing your first lesson of ASL!

To fix your formatting, edit your comment. After the checkmark in lesson 1, hit the space bar twice. Then the enter bar once. Do this each time you want a clean line break. :)

Edit: woops, looks like Arachnje beat me to that advice by 5 hours! ^^;


Lol, that's ok, I didn't see Arachnje's comment it until today anyhow, because I forgot to follow the discussion :) Anyhow, they had me spell out a sentence that said something like "The quick brown fox jumped over the fence", so, are there some words that have to spelled out? Or does each word have a single sign, and they were just having me spell it out?


Signing up. Thank you for continuing the challenge.

Continuing my lessons from the previous challenge:

Monday: Friends Lesson 9 ✔️

Tuesday: Friends Lesson 10 ✔️

Wednesday: Family Lesson 1 ✔️

Thursday: Family Lesson 2 ✔️

Friday: Family Lesson 3 ✔️

Saturday: Family Lesson 4 ✔️

Sunday: Family Lesson 5 ✔️


Thank you for organizing the challenge; waiting for the next one (待機中。。。)


Sign up. Really thanks for the challenge.


Glad to have you with us this week! ^_^


Hi, I'd love to do this but I'm learning BSL (because I'm not American) does anyone know if there is anything similar to this website for BSL? Thanks and sorry if it's annoying.


Hi Octopode123, You are definitely more than welcome to do this challenge for BSL instead of ASL. I'm not at all experienced with BSL resources. So, I just did a quick search for free BSL learning resources and this popped up https://www.british-sign.co.uk/. If you try it out, would you do a little review of it at the end of the week?

Edit: Looks like it comes with an enrollment fee. So, not totally free afterall. Google search results only noted that there were free lessons, not that there was an enrollment fee. Sorry about not catching that right away! https://www.british-sign.co.uk/learn-online-british-sign-language-course/


That's fine, I think I may have found a website that could work, http://www.schoolofsignlanguage.com/learn-online/learn-online-free-only/. So I'll give that a go ( I'll have to start tomorrow) and I can always do a short review of how I found the website? Thanks and looking forward to improving my signing!


Awesome! My challenges are generally very customizable with permeable start and finish dates. Very much looking forward to your review. What is also helpful is knowing the credentials of those teaching in the resources. :)


I'm glad I'm not the only person interested in learning BSL over ASL! Unfortunately I haven't found any decent sources for learning it yet.


There is the website I suggested above and as silky as it sounds, the CBeebies show 'something special' is a great vocabulary builder XD


I'm so glad to see this challenge back!

I'm going to be practicing my fingerspelling this week, using both the SignSchool practice tool and the LifePrint one (if I can get the LifePrint one to work; it was glitching like crazy when I tried it yesterday, but that may have been my internet connection at fault).

Sunday: ✔️
Monday: ✔️
Tuesday: ✔️
Wednesday: ✔️


Yay! Welcome back! That's a bummer LP was glitching on you. I hope it runs smoother soon. While less interactive than SignSchool, it's still a great resource. I've watched the first 55 videos and it was really great for my vocabulary (before I took a break from language learning for a while. I'm currently trying to rebuild that.)


Really struggling this week. I've missed the last two days. I keep telling myself to just do my lesson for tonight yet I am so mentally exhausted that I've had to let it be ok to miss it. I managed to meet my goal for Japanese and between that and my other tasks, it took everything I had to give to language today. I'm gonna be gentle with myself about it this evening. :)


Thank you both. I had to get up early this morning to run an errand and I'm already tired again. But, along with a healthy breakfast and hydrating, I sat down and did the two ASL lessons I missed this week. I felt very encouraged by your empathetic messages. ❤️

As for the new bling you're seeing around the forums, this is the alpha launch of a new program called Global Ambassadors. You can see documents describing the program Here. It is another step in the evolution of forum moderation, but, this time the evolution includes four groups: Forum moderators, course contributors, teachers, and event hosts.

It'll take me a little while to adjust to the terminology so if you see my slip up, just chuckle a bit. I've been with Duo a long time and there have been thousands of changes over the years. For those interested specifically in the evolution of the Duolingo forum moderator, it goes like this: Forum Moderator (1st generation Duolingo mods) ➡️ Legacy mod (All 1st, some 2nd gen) and Regional mod (some 2nd gen + later gen) ➡️ Global mod (no longer gen based) and Regional mod (no longer gen based) ➡️ Gold Global Ambassador mod (Formerly called Global mods) and Green Global Ambassador mod (formerly called Regional mods). Though, we just say Gold and Green mod for short. I kinda liked the sound of "global mod" myself, though, "global ambassador" sounds cool too. ^_^

Some adjustments people might see in the future are more clear designations between ring color and area of specialization within the GA program. Currently, a person with a gold or green ring could be a mod, contributor, teacher, or event Ambassador. It is a bit confusing. But, it's to be expected of anything that is still in the Alpha stage. :)


I set a much lower goal in my 100XP challenge compared to week 1, so it's still manageable while doing the ASL challenge. But I can imagine the challenge of doing both while undertaking the demanding work of forum moderation, in addition to offline daily tasks (just a suggestion: would it have been more health friendly for the two challenges - 100XP and ASL - not to overlap?)
In any case, I hope you manage to get enough rest and avoid burnout.

P.S. congratulations on the well-earned golden shield (is shield the right word for the ring around the profile picture of a moderator?)


"Is shield the right word for the ring around the profile picture of a moderator?" I don't know what it's called, but I like the word Badge. It sounds a whole lot more... Something, I just can't get the words for it.


That's a good question. Mods had a picture of a silver shield in our previous profile bling version. Now, we have a golden globe (I would like to thank my fellow volunteers, staff, and also the academy.)

We also used to refer to mods in general as "green rings". Which... that could be confusing when we've used the terms in the forum for anyone digging through old posts.

Anyhow, looks like we'll have to wait and see what reference we settle into for the new bling. :)


Ok, just hang in there, And I hope you can get some good mental rest (That made a whole lot more sense in my head than it did when I typed it). So far I've completed all my ASL lessons this week, and I also have done forty XP every day. So including today, my XP would be at 200. I know 40 xp is a little bit compared to some people, but I've never been able to do that, and that has made me feel quite good :)


The sign for hot dog in Sign School is a different variation than the one I've learned. At first, I thought they were signing "sometimes". The version I learned matches the Spreadthesign.com app's version.

Oh! That reminds me, this app also has a dictionary for BSL signs (among others)! I completely forgot until I saw the little flag when I was looking up sometimes and hot dog. :)


There are several regionalism for "hot dog" in ASL. Both signs from Sign School are used about equally. There are a few other signs out there. Also, the sign from Spreadthesign is also the sign for "sausage". It should be noted that when using the sign from Spreadthesign, it is important to include the mouth's movement to help distinguish it from "hot dog" and "sausage".


I was just thinking about Helen Keller while I was doing this an ASL lesson, and it got me thinking about the highly intelligent person that taught her to hand read. I mean, where could you start on something like that? Here is a link to a video that I saw about how she speaks https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ch_H8pt9M8 Btw, what is that kind of sign language called? it's like feel language.


I have a question: I can't seem to tell the difference between good and thank you. Am I missing something?


They are the same in my region. Context differentiates them. I don't know if they used to have variations between the two signs. But, in my region they don't.


So, what do you mean by context?


An example in English could be when talking about "I love the firey-colored leaves in the fall." versus "He visits often but leaves after just five minutes."

In English, people use context to help them sort out the difference between words when the words are homophones (sound the same) and/or homographs (spelled the same).

In ASL, there are signs that look the same but have different menaing, like the sign for language and sentence. (There is an initialized version of language that differs, but, my Deaf friend refuses to use several initializations, because they are loan signs from SEE, which was created as part of an attempt by hearing people to obliterate ASL and Deaf culture. I'm pretty sure I talk about that in ASL: The History, Struggles, and Deaf Culture.


Ok, I get it now thanks.


Hey, Usagi, if you are native at ASL or at least interested in it, I think you should contribute it.

LOL maybe.



I would have already applied in a quick second if I had the skills to be a contributor for it. Sadly, I don't. :( I would hope contributors for an ASL course would have RID certification. Having Deaf contributors certified interpreters for the Deaf would be extra awesome, and two to five years' experience. Though, Sweilan1 might have other recommendations that are better than mine. I'm just sort of guessing at what qualifications might make for ideal ASL course contributors.


I just finished my last lesson for the week. I thought it interesting learning some things about ASL. So thank you Usagi for posting this, I don't know if I will keep going or not, but I will think about it :)


I was super happy that you joined us this week. My hope is that people who have never considered learning ASL could at least sample it, and those who wanted to start learning but weren't sure where to start/ didn't want to go it alone would have other learners to join.

I created an ASL facebook group hoping we could start doing voice off ASL chats. But, as a hearing person, I'm out of my depth and comfort organizing the meetings. In the future, maybe that will change and we'll have even more resources to offer beginners.

As for what we've got here, feel free to join again any time in the future. You'll always be welcome. ^_^


Are any of you getting opportunities to use what you've been learning?

I have an advantage learning ASL because I have opportunities each week to hang out with my friend who signs. Lately, we've been spending more time hanging out with another signer we are getting to know, about once a week to once every two weeks.

Speaking of, my brain is so exhausted. I met up with those two at 10:30 this morning. When we hang out, it's voice off, meaning we don't use English. I got home just after 6pm. We've been using ASL the entire day with each other and when we went the restaurant. (If you are with signers, just use paper and pen or point to the menu. Whatever your signing friends are doing, follow their lead unless they prefer you not to.

I've learned from my friends that if they are with friends who are voicing English in restaurants, the servers will expect the voicer to translate for the signers. That can lead to uncomfortable situations. The person voicing might not be skilled enough to translate. The server might look at the person voicing instead of the signers (which is rude to the signers). I'm sure I've forgotten a few other things. But, my friends prefer I follow their lead, so I do. It can feel uncomfortable sometimes because hearing people in this area tend to greet strangers. Often a nod and a smile is enough, but sometimes they want to stop and have a light conversation. I want to respond so they don't feel awkward talking to people who don't respond. But, I do my best to remember to follow my friends' cues because I'd rather the stranger feel awkward than for my friends to get cut out of a conversation in a language other than their own when it's been a constant experience in their lives of people leaving them out. I'm spending time with them. So, it's important I prioritize them. (I'm mentioning this stuff in case other ASL learners haven't had opportunity to think about these aspects. My deaf and hard of hearing friends have brought these things to my attention after I've made these types of cultural mis-steps.)

Anyway, so I've been picking up more during my time with them. Today in my conversations, I noticed several signs that SignSchool lessons reminded me existed. So, already this has encouraged me. I'm definitely impressed by SignSchool. I'm feeling increasingly confident in strongly recommending it to other ASL learners. ^_^


In my case, unfortunately, no. In fact, I'm learning only because I love the language, and I don't see myself using it in the future; I don't know anybody from the deaf community, and even if I met any signing people, they wouldn't be using ASL. So, I'm currently practicing what I learned in the same way I practice any other language: by talking to myself when no one is around.


Ok, basically I would say everything Arachnje said but with a few extra things. I do really like SignSchool because it has a really easy way of learning. I also like the stories. I don't like them in the fact that they are at all realistic, but because they are funny :) I mean, he talks about the story like he is telling it to a 3 year old. The facial expressions are so dramatic and funny ;) Anyhow, that's neat that you get to practice/use it. That would definitely make me want to continue :)


Facial expressions are absolutely critical in ASL! ASL isn't simply moving one's hands around to create signs, it's also about using space, motion, timing, and facial expressions. Facial expressions are more important than the signs themselves.

If one were to sign without using facial expressions, a native signer could either misunderstand what is being said or feel the person is totally disinterested, bored, is boring. Also, facial expressions are sort of like tone/pitch of the voice. So if one signs without any facial expressions, it is like listening to someone speak with a monotone voice. Now isn't that boring?

This reminds me of the KIS methodology - Keep It Simple. The fewer signs, the better. So if a facial expression can convey a message, there is no need to use one's hands and make a sign - just like in spoken languages. Want to show contempt at something being said? Roll your eyes. Remember, signing can be a tiring - especially if one is signing for a considerable length of time. So use of facial expressions, spatials, classifiers, etc lessen the need for having to sign each and every word.


Facial expressions are a key part of ASL, much more than they are for English because they are part of the grammar. Because of this difference, it can feel theatrical to non-ASL people. I can't speak to whether the people in SignSchool are overdramatizing their expressions, because I'm a novice. But, I do know that often people mistake the facial grammatical components of ASL as comical or overdone.

Check out this article and video about a professional interpreters covering of hurricane Irma Click here. While this was happening, I was following conversations in various ASL groups with native speakers. According to them, the interpreter was using very good ASL facial expressions and not doing anything theatrical. :)


Ok yeah, that interpreter looked like he knew what he was doing. I mean, when I watch him I can totally see the use of facial expressions. Also, I didn't mean to sound like I was saying it was overdone in SignSchool, because I am anything but an expert. I just thought it was somewhat funny because of the fact that they are so much more dramatic than what I'm used to :)


One of the things I like best about learning new languages and also interacting with new cultures are those differences. They make me suddenly notice things about my own language and culture that I'd taken for granted so much that I wasn't even aware of it. I think that is true for a lot of people here in the forum community. Sometimes, pointing out those differences, like you did, is the moment of realization. So, I definitely didn't mean to make you feel self-conscious if I did. Sometimes, I'm excited about this stuff, so I point it out so other people can learn about it. But, I can come off differently than I intended to. Communicating by text sure can be a challenge.


"They make me suddenly notice things about my own language and culture that I'd taken for granted so much that I wasn't even aware of it." I know, I totally do that also even though I'm not very high in Russian. Doing Russian has got me to thinking about some of the English words we use, like as are is of. Simple things like that, things that I never really noticed before. So I'm glad I started learning another language, it has helped a lot with understanding some of the things in English :)
Also, "Communicating by text sure can be a challenge." that is very true. I never use emojies when I am texting people, but I have been using them on here to help me with trying to show how I'm thinking when I write out post. I've only got annoyed once on Duo before, and that was when I was first starting. But other than that, I am never trying to say something in a bad way anymore. I mean, it's kinda hard for me to get annoyed at lettering that some random person out in the world posted. However I do find myself getting embarrassed sometimes :) So anyhow, all is good. You didn't do anything, I was just saying something that might have not looked the same as it did in my head.


Facial expressions are a key part of AS

This reminds me of something related to SignSchool and I've meaning to ask about for a while.
In addition to facial expressions, it seems that (as sweilan1 indicated about the differentiation between hot dog and sausage) mouth movement too is sometimes necessary to convey the meaning of a sign. But I noticed while watching the lessons from SignSchool, that there were many times when the signers moved their lips while signing (one example I remember was the simple sign for you ), which ended up tipping me off about the correct answer during the tests, and I've been wondering if that too was part of the correct way of signing.


My friend who is hard of hearing but who is Deaf culture and fluent in both ASL and English will occasionally mouth English shapes but also other shapes called "ASL mouth morphemes" . When signing with other deaf people, my friend switches to using less English mouthing and more ASL mouth morphemes.

The university students at the ASL club I attended started by using a ton of English mouthing. As they moved from 101 towards the end of the ASL minor, they used less of that and more ASL mouth morphemes. I've been wondering if there are more English mouth movement for these signs on SignSchool to help the complete beginners. And, I'm hoping there will be less English and more ASL mouth morphemes as we progress. :)

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