How to Teach Sign Language to Adults

You can learn sign language, the third-most dominant language in the United States, with the approach and expectations for learning French, Chinese or any other foreign spoken languages.

  • Start with the basics. Ensure you know the language yourself before trying to teach sign language to people. Many colleges offer major and/or courses in sign language. Most major cities also have Deaf organizations that offer sign classes. You can also start learning the basics of the language from ASL University‚Äôs online website if learning in a real-life classroom setting proves difficult or impossible.
  • Consider using software while teaching. Young adults who have experience with computers may want to learn sign language using their computer during their spare time. You can purchase software about learning sign language from the Institute for Disabilities Research and Training, Inc.

  • Sign language has a unique grammar system. Try to learn the system and not just the signs. Meet and learn with native signers to have insight into how the language works.
  • Get a good book about the language. Editors organize good sign language books in such a way that you can look up how to sign those words. A Basic Course in American Sign Language by Humphries, Padden, and O’Rourke remains one of the best books on how to learn sign language. You can also purchase instructional videos and DVDs.
  • Use flash cards. Because sign language is purely visual, studying with flash cards proves an effective approach to learning. Sign language flash cards come with pictures of either a hand or of a person forming the sign and guide of the arm movements.
  • Certify as a teacher of the language. You can choose from several different certification paths from the American Sign Language Teachers Association (ASLTA).
  • Meet Deaf people. The best way of learning sign language begins with practicing sign with Deaf friends and others. Ask how you can get involved in the Deaf community. Volunteer at schools for the Deaf and participate in other organizations which support and help the Deaf community to improve your skills with the language.
  • Remain patient when teaching. Your students will need a lot of repetition and practice to learn and improve their sign language skills. Also, most adults who try to learn sign language have as their motivation someone in their life who speaks that language.

Filed Under: Education & Training


About the Author: Roberta Southworth is a psychiatrist by profession. She likes to help out people by writing informative tips on how people can to solve their family and relationship issues. She is currently staying in Ireland. She has 5 years of couple counseling experience.

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