American Sign Language??

I'm wondering if American Sign Language could be an option. I am already fluent, but I know so many people who could use this type of program to learn quickly. I work with many hearing people that are trying to learn sign but could use a tool as simple as this to learn easier.

December 6, 2017


On a platform like Duolingo, I'm not sure how they could do it. But Mango Languages has and ASL course, so that could be helpful if people wanted it.

December 6, 2017

If you look at most classroom signing workbooks, it would be very similar to those. They use arrows and other symbols to indicate a direction. Take "week" for example. (Here, I'm using Bill Vicars ASL LifePrint stuff to illustrate my point.) The arrow along the non-dominant hand indicates that the dominant hand (the one making the pointer finger) slides across the hand from the base of the palm to the fingers.

As for the "speaking" part of the language, I don't know. Maybe a video? My ASL teacher had us posting videos to YouTube all the time so she could see our progress one on one without anyone else in the way.

May 19, 2019

Bill Vicars has a website ( and a YouTube channel (Bill Vicars). Also usagiboy has several helpful post regarding ASL. Happy signing!!

December 7, 2017

thank you i had the same question !!!

December 7, 2017

Sheila, I have been trying to learn ASL for over a year, and have been having a really hard time with it. I am hearing, but am wondering if you would be willing to work with me on it... I know it's weird as a stranger for me to be asking this, but let me know?

December 7, 2017

how are you gonna type sign language?

December 7, 2017

Actually, it's possible to teach ASL online without typing, and has already been implemented in the form of video lessons by SignSchool (click here), and also by Memrise as shown in this post below that is also the official post proposing ASL on duolingo, so anyone who wishes to support the idea can do so by upvoting the post:

Post: ASL is possible on Duolingo

December 7, 2017

One of these days, I really need to update the resources I mention in the OP of that post. Thank you for sharing it and also for sharing the resources, Arachnje! Hopefully, next week I can run a new 1 week ASL challenge. ^_^

December 9, 2017

Arachnje, I've finally updated the ASL is possible on Duolingo discussion. It was well past time. Thanks for the prompting. ;)

December 9, 2017

PS Sheila558126

Just to say, I strongly join Arachnje in recommending SignSchool as a resource for complete beginners and up. I also join TinyKitties in recommending LifePrint. Though, I would recommend learners start on SignSchool and then add LifePrint a bit later, once learners are already in a habit of daily ASL study. LifePrint is very good, but there is no interactive feedback. So, I imagine that hearing folks who are new to learning ASL on their own will have a higher drop off rate with it. It is also more challenging right from the start.

Also, I mentioned previously that one to two times a month, I hold an ASL challenge that lasts one week. Here is November's Challenge. I will be running a new one, hopefully starting Sunday or Monday. If you know someone who is interested in participating, have them go there and click "follow discussion". They will need to have email notifications turned on. When I put up this month's ASL challenge, I will comment on the old one with the link to the new one. Just make sure you have a registered a real email address with your Duolingo account, and have turned on Email Notifications.


December 9, 2017

Usagiboy, how are you doing with your own sign language studies? Will we ever have activity streams again? Just wondering

December 9, 2017


I'm doing alright with ASL. I'm not excelling as fast as I might if I were applying myself more rigorously. As is, I'm getting a few hours of immersion each weak with a couple of my friends and running the 1 week ASL challenge. I'm not studying outside of those two sources. I have a lot of things I'm doing, so I've prioritized some rest for my brain over more ASL studying.

I was invited to go to Deaf coffee with two of my friends today though. I'm nervous about my lack of skills. However, it will be a good chance to interact with more people using more styles of signing than just my two friends. :)

As far as staff have said, Activity streams aren't coming back. There might be other casual chat opportunities in time. The only thing I know of in a/b testing right now is through Clubs, and only some people are in the test group.

December 9, 2017


Go have coffee.. You learn so much when you mess up :) Our church just had a Christmas program interpreted beautifully in ASL for our deaf friends. I was surprised to find that my 70 something deaf friend didn't enjoy it as much as the younger (under 50 did)..Interestingly she likes things a bit more "english." So impressed with your dedication to learn ASL!

December 12, 2017

SignSchool seems like one of the better tools out there; however, there is one flaw - the program doesn't inform you whether you are producing the sign correctly. It does allow you to watch yourself signing, but one may not actually "see" that the sign one is making is actually correct.

Something else which may confuse students - there is zero standardization in ASL. So one sign being used in the program may not be used in the student's area.

December 9, 2017


LifePrint and the other online resources I've encountered appear to have that same barrier.

As for variation in sign forms, I've noticed some differences between the signs I've learned, and some of those taught in SignSchool and Lifeprint. My region has more similarities with those taught by Lifeprint. However, my friends who are signers here have been able to recognize multiple variations in signs. I ask them which is preferred in our area and they show me. Then, I focus on those versions. It appears to be the same for the ASL students learning at the local University.

Despite that I've never attended a formalized ASL classes and teaching myself using online resources (with a critical eye to the credentials of those teaching and producing the resources I'm using), I have been able to use sign language to nurture my friendships. My signing has "a lot of English", as does my Spanish and Japanese. These online courses are not where one becomes fluent in any language. They have, however, been a starting place for me.

I don't believe we will find the perfect learning source for any language, outside of growing up native speakers. I wouldn't abandon the effort to learn other languages because of that though.

December 9, 2017

This reminds me of a something I witnessed. Two university students who were learning ASL came to my church for Mass. One of the Deaf men asked them "Where do you live?" The students looked like two deer staring into headlights and simply didn't know what to say. I immediately knew what the problem was. The sign he used for "where" is a very old ASL sign (it's the sign I still use for "where") - but it's the sign that is now being taught to mean "what"? So they were stuck thinking - "what do you live?" I got their attention mouthed very distinctly - "where do you live?" This threw them for a loop.

After Mass was over, I asked the interpreter to explain the whole "what - where" issue with ASL. The interpreter explained to them that the signs they are learning in school for "what" and "where" are the complete opposite for what is signed by many older Deaf - especially in my area.

Another sign which I've seen stumping ASL students is the sign for "if". Students are now being taught the sign of placing the letter "I" beneath the eye. But actually, this is the sign for "suppose" - which is usually done on the forehead. It's like the sign for "know" - it should be done at the forehead, but often one sees it being done at the eye, the cheek, the shoulder, or even on the chest. I personally use two of the older signs. One sign is simply fingerspelling "if" quickly or the same sign as "court". At a Deaf Social I used the same sign as "court" and a university ASL student stopped me and finger spelled "court"? I explained the sign means both - depending on context. The university student answered, "but I was taught.." and at that point another Deaf person jumped in and told her I was 100% correct.

ASL - it's fun!

December 9, 2017

As usual, you've been a wealth of information! I am looking forward to exposure to more signing styles. For as much as I enjoy the topic of ASL, my signing is still very minimal.

>Did you know the sign for "help" actually started at the elbow? The etymology of the sign

Is there a book on the history of ASL signs? I love learning about this stuff!

December 11, 2017


I was using "know" at my forehead because that is what the university students here are being taught. I changed it to my cheek after noticing my signing friends preferred it. I asked about it, and my friend told me that many signs are starting to migrate as part of the evolution of the language. This was a while ago. So, I didn't ask if they meant locally or where exactly that applied.

As an outsider to the language, I've mainly just been adapting to my friends' signing styles. Oh! I went to Deaf coffee last night in a town about an hour away from where I am. There were mostly older signers there. I definitely noticed that the older people still signed "know" at their forehead.

There was one person who was very fluent in sign and his signing was clear, only I didn't recognize much of it. I thought that I was very inadequate (which, really I am not very skilled which is true.) There was another person across the table and once they started signing, I was so relieved to noticed that I followed a bit more of what he signed. Both of them were older. But, one was maybe 10 years older than the other. I wondered if maybe one used more older signs and the other some of the newer signing similar to my friends.

My main exposure to ASL is through 1 friend who works in Deaf education. They are close to my own age, and a member of the Deaf community. Recently, I started joining them when they hang out with another friend who is mostly deaf but uses CI. At first, I could not follow that person's signing at all. So, more time with a variety of signers is certainly important!

I just want to say, I so appreciate the depth and breadth of knowledge you bring to ASL discussions in the forums.

Oh! Also, the ASL FB group, I now have a ready supply of discussion topics thanks to Duolingo launching Events. So, I will try again very soon to set up our first group video chat and just let it be what it will be. :)

December 10, 2017


Often when Deaf people are asked about the sign for "know" and why it's often signed on the cheek, they'll laugh and respond it's that "some Deaf people are lazy". That's why it is sometimes even done at the chest.

In my opinion, signing "know" at the forehead is a more "formal" and that is how it is most often signed during speeches or by interpreters. Placing the hand at another part of the body is more "informal" and done amongst friends. In a school setting, it really should be done "formally" - and I mean during class and with the teachers.

Did you know the sign for "help" actually started at the elbow? The etymology of the sign - it was helping an older person crossing a street by taking him by the elbow and and guiding him across the street. But in the last 100 years or so, the sign dominate hand began started moving up the arm and now it is under the fist of the non-dominate hand. The reason it has moved is that it is easier or some Deaf will jokingly say, "because we're lazy".

At the social you attended, you were exposed to many more styles by individuals. One person could sign something and "you" might find that person difficult to read. Yet another person could sign the same exact message with the same exact signs and in the same exact order and you would be able to easily understand that person. This happens all the time. Eventually you learn to understand his signing. This is not a unique "hearing person" phenomena - this happens to Deaf people, too. At first meeting, some people are extremely difficult to understand.

Also, there is another Deaf guy who attends the monthly socials and we visit every month. I find him difficult to understand and have to really focus. I mentioned this to another Deaf person and she said she also finds hims extremely difficult to understand - and we've both known him for several years. When she and I were discussing it, I told her that to me - he looks as if he tossing things about when he signs. She started laughing and I said, "I know! I know!"

Let me give you another example. I know one Deaf gentleman who often attends one of the monthly socials. I've always enjoyed chatting with him. He's really comical and we are constantly joking around. A few other Deaf people have asked me if I understood his signing. I told them I thought he was as clear as a bell. They were surprised because they always thought he was sort of difficult to understand and that he signed so fast.

One thing one must do when learning to sign. Be flexible. There can be many different signs for one thing. For example, my above example of "if". Honestly, I abhor the sign for "if" by placing the "I" hand shape beneath the eye. It's simply too SEE for me. I prefer to use the same sign as "court". But if I'm speaking with "younger people", I tend to switch to finger spelling the word. The sign done under the eye is becoming more prevalent now as it's the sign being taught at the schools.

So when one is learning ASL, one MUST be flexible and be able to adapt to various styles and localized signs.

December 11, 2017

Duolingo now has courses that don't require any target language typing. Swap out the word boxes (in Japanese, Chinese, or, I assume, Korean) for gifs of signs (I assume that would work well enough, if less than perfectly) and voilĂ .

December 8, 2017

So the student wouldn't actually be signing at all?

If the student would be signing, how would Duolingo be able to "read" the student's signs and determine if they are correct or not?

December 9, 2017
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