New Sources For Signing

October 29, 2020 0 By Brandon Rumford

In the last blog post I wrote about how I found a new source for me to learn from in the coming weeks and this week I tried it and it was great! Signlanguage101 is a great website made by Dr. Byron Bridges, who is not only deaf, but has a PhD in linguistics and has taught sign language to people of all ages. There is a course you are able to pay for but I have just used what is free to all and it has been a much better experience in my opinion than the app I used previously. He explained it himself in the first lesson, that learning ASL through books (or apps in my case) is difficult and is what got him to teach through videos.

The first lesson I watched, taught about the importance of body language as well as common gestures used in sign language that most people already know and don’t even realize. For example, the sign for “swim” is pretending to swim as one would imagine. Or, the sign for “come one” is waving someone over, again as we already know. I never realized until watching this lesson, how some of sign language is simple gestures that we all do everyday without thinking. It was interesting because as Dr. Bridges put it, everyone knows a little bit of sign language. As well as the importance of body language, and the actions one makes with their body while signing, another topic touched on was the importance of facial expressions. Your facial expressions are very important in getting your words and mood across to who you’re signing too. So, I wanted to include a shot of the first lesson and the example of Dr. Bridges over the top facial expressions.

An example of how facial expressions are used in ASL

I also watched lesson 2 this week, focusing on the alphabet, which I have already learned, colours, and pronouns. I was surprised while going through the alphabet, that some signs were a bit different from what I have learned previously. For example, when signing the letter d, I learned that it was your index finger pointed up, with the rest of your fingers touching your thumb, making a circle. Like you were doing the “OK” sign we all know but doing the opposite thing with your fingers. However, this lesson taught me that it was your index finger up, middle finger and thumb making a circle, and the other two fingers clenched into your hand. It is only a slight difference and I’m sure is not a big deal, but I was surprised as I thought everyone did the same thing as they’re both classed as ASL.

Overall, I enjoyed learning from this website. I was more engaged while learning from videos rather than reading an app. As well, Dr. Bridges is great at making the videos engaging and keeping people like myself watching and not getting bored. I found it easier to learn from the videos as well, not only was I not getting bored, but the structure of the lessons helps as well. Another thing I enjoyed was that I felt everything being taught was useful. The first lesson was basics about gestures and body language. The second was about letters, colours, and pronouns. These are things that will be used fairly often in a typical sign language conversation and good for beginners to learn. Where as the app I used to use did not teach these things. I look forward to continuing learning from this site as I feel it will be a great source to learn from that will help my learning tremendously.