Interesting Linguistic Facts about ASL, and Tips to Help Learn it Faster

American Sign Language is the fourth most studied foreign language in the United States, and it continues to grow in popularity, and yet it remains a bit of a mystery to the general public. Even if you don’t have a deaf friend or relative, learning ASL has many benefits. Here are some linguistic factoids about American Sign Language to spark your curiosity as well as some strategies for learning ASL to get you on your way.

Where did Sign Language come from?  

There are plenty of different sign languages around the world. British Sign Language (BSL) is different from French Sign Language (LSF) which is different from American Sign Language (ASL). All of them are as unique, distinct, and separate from each other as spoken languages are different from each other. American sign language wasn’t taught until the beginning of deaf education in 1814, as according to 5 Star ASL Interpreting, the ADA has requirements that title II entities (states and local governments) and title III entities (businesses and nonprofit organizations) communicate effectively with people who have any communication disabilities.

Isn’t Sign Language a form of English?  

Contrary to popular belief, ASL is its own language, wholly distinct and separate from spoken English. It has its own rules concerning word order, pronunciation, and complex grammar systems. Instead of using changes in pitch and tone of voice, those who speak ASL use body language, facial expressions, as well as other techniques to add the inflections that come with making demands or asking questions. Additionally, sign language has its own dialects and accents across the country just as spoken English does.

Strategies for Learning ASL

  • 1. Take an ASL class in person or online.
  • While yes, you can teach yourself signs and thread together sentences, taking a class where a teacher can correct and instruct can make your learning more efficient and can prevent a lot of frustration.
  • 2. Don’t forget about facial expressions and body language.
  • ASL doesn’t just use the hands. Facial expressions are as much a part of the language as the signs themselves.
  • 3. Watch and imitate interpreters and shows with deaf characters.
  • Watch TV shows with deaf characters (such as Switched at Birth) and videos of interpreters online. Not only will this help with your recognition, but this will also help your familiarity with appropriate body language and facial expressions.

ASL is a beautiful language. If you decide that learning ASL is for you, immerse yourself as much as possible in deaf culture. It takes no time at all to get hooked, especially if you take a mindful learning approach to your ASL language learning.


Clear The List: Language Learning Goals for September 2017

Guten Tag! Hola! 你弽!

Welcome to my monthly language learning round up…

German Recap

August was an exciting month for me as I introduced German into my language learning routine. Exposing myself to approximately 10,000 words per-day! It was an interesting challenge that I approached with an open and positive mindset. You can read more about the challenge here Trisha Tests: 10,000 words a day challenge – the outcome.

Whilst doing the challenge I also managed to get to the intermediate section of Flash Academy  – YAY moment. I really do like this app and would highly recommend it. Finally, I have been reading a number of popular children’s books online in German via the fabulous site Amira.

Spanish Recap

I have read “El coloquio de los perros” by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. Translated by Interlinear Books. I have also completed the word search section of Spanish Pocket Puzzles.

Chinese Mandarin Recap

I attended the Monthly Mandarin Meetup that I started in my local area over a year ago now. It was really nice to meet other Mandarin learners face-to-face and play some games. We also had some members of the local Chinese community come and join us for a quick chat too.  I have noticed how rusty my spoken Mandarin has gotten.

Recap on Other Language Business 

I hosted an online coffee morning in aid of Macmillan Cancer support and launched the 50 different languages challenge. At the time of writing this, we are at about 30 different languages so far. If you would like to partake in the challenge or simply donate some money to Macmillan Cancer Support check out my post the World’s Biggest Online Coffee Morning.

September Goals: 

September is set to be the busiest month of the year for me so far. Not only is my daughter starting secondary school – feeling very old now. Language learners Journal also turns a year old!

Now for some language goals…


  • I recently purchased ‘German in 30 days‘ by Berlitz. It’s a beginners CD and audio-book. I will be using this throughout September.
  • I will continue to use Flash Academy App for about 10-15 minutes per day.

Chinese Mandarin

  • Continue to learn 5-10 new Chinese characters per day via ‘Hello Chinese’ books and Chineasy: 60 Flashcards: The New Way to Read Chinese.
  • Brush up on my spoken Mandarin.
  • I need to do a lot of behind the scenes admin for the local Mandarin Meetup Group this month, booking rooms and promoting. We are hoping to launch our very own website as many of the members do not use Facebook. The face-to-face group will continue to be free and we hope to attract some more members.


  • Spanish will be popped on hold this month as I have so many things on the go at the moment and I need to remember to look after myself. Which is an important lesson for us all as we can not pour from an empty bucket.

Language Learners Journal 

  • In September Language Learners Journal will become a not-for-profit social enterprise! With the aim of promoting language learning especially in areas of deprivation, improving confidence, self-esteem and cultural diversity both online and externally. I personally feel it is now more important than ever to learn another language and about other cultures. Especially due to Brexit and as race hate crimes also appear to be on the increase.
  • I will be continuing to offer some initial free 20-minute one-to-one online coaching sessions for those struggling with language learning anxiety and confidence issues.

Join Clear the List!

For more information or to join #Clear the List, click here.

10 Reasons Language Learners Need to Blog!

Language learner? Here are 10 Reasons That you Need to Build a Blog.

Blogging is such powerful learning tool and I believe all language learners should blog! It’s now easier than ever to set up a blog just pop to the main WordPress site.

1. Accountability

Keeping an online blog with help with accountability.

2. Writing improves communication skills

Writing practice especially in your target language will boost both your skills and comfort level with revealing and relating their own thoughts and feelings.

3. Writing (and vlogging) will help you review and remember recently learned the material.

Isn’t it always easier to remember a website address to visit later if we write it down somewhere? A brief blog post focusing on what you have learnt that day is a great way to reinforce your target language learning and support long-term recall.

4. Writing helps native speakers/language tutors see progress being made

Writing a blog demonstrates that you understand x or y concept. Writing the blog or recording a vlog will help you (and your followers) review what you have mastered and where there may still be gaps.

5. Writing is essential for self-understanding

Writing can help you understand and make sense of your own experiences, locate contexts, and make (sometimes surprising) discoveries about thoughts and feelings.

6. Writing encourages creativity and exploration

Daily writing encourages a creative flow that can help explore possibilities, delve into problem-solving, and engage in storytelling.

7. Improved confidence levels

Positive comments from other language learners can really boost confidence levels. There may be the old troll, but the great thing is you don’t have to approve those comments just trash them!

8. Share Resources 

It is a fantastic way of sharing knowledge and resources. I have discovered so many awesome books and other resources by reading the blogs of others.

9. Peer Support

I learnt just as much from my fellow language learners than language tutors over the years. I find the stories of language learners inspiring and they help me with my own language journey.

10.  Digital Portfolios

Blogs may be used for digital portfolios and all the benefits this entails.Work is permanently stored, easily accessed and valuable comparisons can be made over time for reviewing progress.