Skip to main content

Teach Yourself American Sign Language - Basic Sign Language Studies Online


Learn To Sign and Communicate Through ASL

American Sign Language (ASL) is an experience, and arguably the most beautiful language in the world. It is also the third most widely spoken language in the United States (after English and Spanish, respectively). If for no other reason than to be prepared and helpful in an emergency situation, everyone who is able should learn at least basic American Sign Language. There are also benefits like being able to go on to study and become an interpreter for a school, or a religious organization. All of this, however, starts with knowing ASL basics - sign language fingerspelling, alphabet, numbers, colors, common phrases, and terms related to emergency situations.

Reader Poll: Do You Agree That All Americans Should Learn Basic ASL?


Why I Began to Study Sign Language

I am still a beginner with ASL, but I have a real passion for learning American Sign Language for many reasons. Besides it's absolute beauty, it is widely spoken throughout the United States where I live. Since I have become a mother, I have learned a lot about using sign to communicate with babies and small children, and it did make communicating with my son, who was slow to speak in complete sentences, easier and more fun. However, these reasons do not fuel my passion for the language.

As a minister, I see the need for more interpreters in churches. I speak French, and I remember how exciting and beautiful it was to be able to connect with a friend of mine from overseas between languages concerning the things of God. I see how sign language interpreters in churches are able to do that, and it absolutely makes my heart sing. To be able to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ in sign is my heart's desire, and it is the driving force behind my self-study. When I get to a point where I need advanced study, I will begin taking courses; however, with so many resources available for home study in this day and age, it just makes more sense for me as a busy mother to do as much as I can when I can, on my own schedule.

I also seek to learn because I believe ASL should be taught in public schools for credit as a second language. It is the third most widely spoken language in the U.S., so there are lots of career opportunities available for hearing people who sign. Furthermore, it is just good to be as fluent as you can in as many languages as you can for the sake of world view if nothing else. It also makes you more helpful in an emergency situation if you can speak more than one language, including ASL.

The ultimate sign language guide

Read this great book to move from a beginner to a pro at ASL.

Basic ASL: First 100 Signs

According to ASL University, the first 100 ASL signs parents and children learn are:

* Family - mom-dad, boy-girl, marriage, brother-sister, grandpa-grandma, aunt-uncle, baby, single, divorced-separate

* Places - home, work, school, store, church, come-go, car/drive, in-out, with

* Time - day, night, week, month, year, will-(future), before-(in the past), today-(now), finish-("all done!")

* Temperature - hot, cold

* Food - pizza, milk, hamburger, hot dog, egg, apple, cheese, drink, spoon, fork, cup, cereal, water, candy, cookie, hungry

* Clothes - shirt, pants, socks, shoes, coat, underwear

* Health - wash, hurt, bathroom, brush teeth, sleep, nice/clean

* Feelings - happy, angry, sad, sorry, cry, like, good-bad, love

* Requests - please, excuse, thank you, help, who, what, when, where, why, how, stop

* Amounts - big, tall, full, more

* Colors - blue, green, yellow, red, brown, orange, gold & silver

* Money - dollars, cents, cost

Scroll to Continue

* Animals - cat, dog, bird, horse, cow, sheep, pig, bug

Learn more about ASL University

Free ASL Videos: Color of Sign

The following are videos introducing and demonstrating American Sign Language, or ASL. Presented as a courtesy by Color of Lanuage, a non-profit developer of sign language materials and resources.

Free ASL Videos: Everyday ASL

Everyday ASL Productions is a company founded by a team of Deaf ASL educators with varied experiences throughout both Deaf and hearing communities. This team understands the importance of promoting and educating American Sign Language (ASL) to ensure successful communication with others using the language.

Free ASL Videos: Signing Time Kids

Signing Time Kids is one of my son's favorite shows, and I have to admit that it is one of my favorites, too. Children learn through instruction and practice with reinforcing lessons and songs, but they also learn by rote. I have learned a lot of sign by simply watching Rachel (the instructor) sign as she communicates with the audience. The lessons are focused on keywords and phrases, but Rachel does not limit her signing to just the terms that she is teaching. You can learn various idioms, syntax, and action verbs as an adult by closely watching Rachel as she speaks and teaches.

So, I highly recommend this series for children from 1 to 92. My son infuses his regular speech with sign, with his favorite sign being the one for "friend".

Advanced Beginner to Intermediate Learning Resource: ASL University

ASL University is probably the hands-down best free online resource for learning ASL. They have detailed lesson plans, an American Sign Language Dictionary, and more. However, in my personal experience, I found this site to be more useful for someone who has a conceptual grasp of ASL, has learned some very basic signs (numbers, letters, some basic vocabulary), and is serious about learning the language. I truly believe that a student who uses visual learning aids like DVDs in conjunction with this site could learn to speak American Sign Language at an intermediate level totally through self-study.

Visit ASL University at today!

Search For More ASL Study Tools

Get Inspired - Beautiful Stories, Songs, and More in ASL

Other Lenses By I.C. Jackson You Might Enjoy

What Are You Passionate About? What Are You an Expert On?

Speak Out: Your Thoughts On Learning Sign Language

Kim Sullivan on June 05, 2020:

I believe that Sign Language can also be used in the Medical Field. People who suffer from a stroke sometimes have a hard time communicating. It'll be a great way to exercise the fingers, hands, wrist and to learn to focus again. Just like you do with the blind and deaf, finger-spell everything in their hands. Remember the story about Helen Keller.

PurpleParasols on May 09, 2013:

I think it is wonderful for people to want to learn ASL signs to aid in communicating with the Deaf. I am a graduate of Gallaudet University (liberal arts university for the Deaf in Washington DC) and as such would like to mention that a little cultural sensitivity is needed when discussing ASL. ASL is a language, with it's own syntactical structure - much like English or French. It is not "spoken" as referred to several times in your lens. Knowing some ASL signs and placing them in English word order is not communicating fluently in ASL. Which is fine! I still encourage others to learn as much as they can. I just wanted to point out that the linguistic base of ASL is not the same as the "baby signs" we teach hearing children.

imagelist lm on April 16, 2013:

Wooowwww...great lens...

Gabriel from Hobbsville, NC on February 01, 2013:

Thanks so much for the info. I did sign language a long time ago and thought I had forgotten it until i looked over your site and gave my self a test. Not bad I must say but I do have to refresh on some of it.

texasdreams lm on September 29, 2012:

Thank you for this page my son is profoundly deaf!

bbullard on July 31, 2012:

Great lens! Our church once taught sign language as a way of expanding the worship for kids and adults alike, but it has since stopped. I've always wanted to find a way to increase my skill in this area. Thanks for sharing--I'll be sure to check out the books you've listed.

anonymous on July 05, 2012:

Hey!Don't forget that people that are mute sometimes use ASL also!!'Cause you all are just talking of deaf people but mute's sometimes use it too!!So please quit giving all of the credit to deaf people and just give at least a little credit?Its just kinda rude if you don't ya know?Sorry 'bout my rant....just wanted to let you all know that!

ron-stewart-1257 on May 20, 2012:!/ron.stewart.1257 I would like to understand your culture, and will share mine to the best of my ability

ron-stewart-1257 on May 19, 2012:

I think sign lanuage is beautiful. I am hearing and have never walked in a deaf mans shoes, but extend my hand in friendship to all that will befriend me. You truly have a giving spirit about you.

Spiderlily321 on April 30, 2012:

I love ASL! My son has epilepsy and had a bit of a speech delay. Learning ASL in college was beneficial because he could sign the things he couldn't say.

I have added your lens to my list of favorite featured lenses on specific special needs. I am trying to create a virtual support circle for parents of chldren with special needs. Thank you for sharing! Here is the link:

avigarret on April 23, 2012:

Always wanted to learn sign language, thanks for helping me start.

shannon-walter on April 02, 2012:

I've taken a couple sign language classes and I love it. My favorite books are "Signing Illustrated" and "The Joy Of Signing".

shannon-walter on April 02, 2012:

I've taken a couple sign language classes and I love it. My favorite books are "Signing Illustrated" and "The Joy Of Signing".

anonymous on March 29, 2012:

it great !! thx

anonymous on March 26, 2012:

@anonymous: even thow i'm not deathf ijust want to learn it just in case someone can't hear i can always help you guys can always count on me and i'm aonly triying to be helpful.

anonymous on March 26, 2012:


anonymous on February 18, 2012:

I just started learning. Ive bought a few book so far to get started. I became interested last year when i worked at a boat house and had quite a few hearing impaired people come in and had trouble comunicating with some of the employees. Thanks for the advice and help!

kateclough lm on February 09, 2012:

Cool lens! This is something on my bucket list! Thanks for sharing!

anonymous on February 05, 2012:

Hi this DIDN'T help

anonymous on February 05, 2012:

Hi this DIDN'T help

Blackspaniel1 on February 01, 2012:

Nice lens. I am trying the Pin It button again.

Blackspaniel1 on February 01, 2012:

Nice lens. I am trying the Pin It button again.

Ronald Tucker from Louisville, Kentucky on January 23, 2012:

I learned some basic signing in the mid 1980s when a friend introduced me to a young very attractive model that was deaf. My friend, Jackie had known Crystal since childhood and was very adept at signing.

The experience introduced me to a whole new world of communicating and a profound respect for the hearing impaired and their community.

Ronald Tucker from Louisville, Kentucky on January 23, 2012:

I learned some basic signing in the mid 1980s when a friend introduced me to a young very attractive model that was deaf. My friend, Jackie had known Crystal since childhood and was very adept at signing.

The experience introduced me to a whole new world of communicating and a profound respect for the hearing impaired and their community.

Julia Morais on October 30, 2011:

Great source of information here. Awesome lens.

Julia Morais on October 30, 2011:

Great source of information here. Awesome lens.

iwrite4cash on September 28, 2011:

This is a beautiful lens, I don't know ASL yet, but I am curious to learn. I think I am going to teach myself how after seeing this, nice job!

Melissa from Albuquerque, NM on September 02, 2011:

Great lens brimming with information. Blessed by a Squid Angel.

Johanna Eisler on August 25, 2011:

Thank you so much for this terrific lens!

I interpret in a small community, and love to encourage others to learn this beautiful language, too. I use ASL University frequently - the professor is great. A couple of other online resources I enjoy using are and

Along with you, I encourage everyone to learn - the blessings are beyond what you can imagine!

Maferneto on August 22, 2011:

This is a very great and useful lens. I worked with deaf people in Brazil for more then 12 years and learned the Brazilian sign language. I can tell it was the most wonderful experience ever!

Kirsti A. Dyer from Northern California on August 14, 2011:

Great lens. I taught myself sign language in college and then would sign words inside of my white coat pockets when I got frustrated during medical school and residency. I told my kids about the signing and they thought it was funny.

anonymous on June 02, 2011:

I had to go back and learn the alphabet, I had the trouble with remembering E, R, and Q. I get my fingers mixed up with the R and the Q. I wasn't putting my thumbs inside my fingers. So, thank you for the chart above. It sure helped a lot.

icjackson on November 15, 2010:

@Christene-S: YAY! Thank you so much :-D

Christene-S on November 15, 2010:

Blessed by a SquidAngel :)

tonyboy on October 28, 2010:

I really like to learn sign language and I'm fortunate that I've found Rocket Sign Language!

Mrmakingusmile LM on October 17, 2010:

Good resource. I want to learn. I look forward to exploring many more of your lenses! Thank you for making me smile.

IscahDesigns on October 13, 2010:

As an ASL teacher/interpreter, I LOVE what you have done with this lens. Wonderful resources! Take a look also at Their dictionaries and "quiz me" features are priceless! (If you've already listed this site here, and I'm just blind, I apologize in advance.)

Wonderful lens! Keep up the good work!

Spook LM on September 07, 2010:

Ah, no wonder you don't visit my lenses? I'm pulled two ways by this. Nevertheless. Blessed by an Angel.

anonymous on August 07, 2010:

nice lens. thank you

I book marked your main web page for personal reference.


3d lcd tv | Discount Wheels | Buy Laptops | Buy Cameras | Clothing Store

sigma zoom len

anonymous on October 09, 2009:

Terrific lens! I am going to lensroll this to my Sign Language Series Lenses:

1. Sign Language Alphabet

2. Sign Language Colors

3. Sign Language Songs

4. Sign Language Numbers 1-10

5. Sign Language Family Signs

6. Sign Language Food Related Words

7. Sign Language Animal Signs

8. Teaching Sign Language in Daycare Schools

anonymous on October 07, 2009:

American Sign Language came straight from God to show us that there are so many ways to communicate. My father is fluent and I plan to be. Do you know any good classes in Greenville, Sc or a way I can look up good classes

five starbaby-com on July 08, 2009:

What a beautiful lens. Thanks for all the great info.

anonymous on May 09, 2009:

I am a certified teacher who has chosen to teach ASL in my community. This site has become a great resource for me in my small town. ASL is so beautiful, I want to teach it to everyone who desires to learn! Thank you!

anonymous on March 05, 2009:

I love your lens! I have loved sign language since I was four and am learning more and more each day! I hope to one day be an interpreter. I have taught my kids and they love it. Keep up the good work! You should take a look at my Baby Sign Language lens! ;o)

Have a fantastic day!

Teddi14 LM on December 28, 2008:

Wow, I just found you from a tweet on twitter and when I got to your bio I noticed you had a lens on sign language and I wanted to check it out because I have one about using sign language with babies. Then I noticed you have my lens featured here. How cool. Thanks so much!!!!! 5 *'s for sure and I am lensrolling it to mine.

Glenna Jones from Orlando, Florida on October 21, 2008:

My brother used to be an interpreter for the deaf when he was in college. It never hurts to know some of it. This is a very interesting lens. Thanks for the info.

Achim Thiemermann from Austin, Texas on October 10, 2008:

A hearty SquidAngel Blessing for this great resource. A masterpiece lens! 5*s

Jimmie Quick from Memphis, TN, USA on October 10, 2008:

I used simple Baby Signs with my daughter before she could speak. Using them was a great way for her to communicate before words

Trekkiemelissa on October 10, 2008:

Good lense. I learned how to sign when I was in junior high. Its interesting how their language is different than our own.

Related Articles