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Home ABOUT MULTIMEDIA Baby Sign Language and Early Education Blog Learning New ASL Signs is Easy with these 5 Simple Tips!
Learning New ASL Signs is Easy with these 5 Simple Tips!
August 2009 Featured Article
By: Melissa "echo" Greenlee
As busy parents, many times our brains are over loaded with the tasks and responsibilities of our daily grind. Whether it be work, play, child rearing or all three, learning and executing new ASL signs takes just a little effort, but it really is much easier than you might think. There are many things you can do to help enhance your ability to remember a sign learned in a book, DVD or class. When learning new ASL signs, turn to these 5 simple tips to help you quickly learn and remember them:

1. - A short note or picture can help you to remember how to execute an ASL sign? Keep a small, coil-bound notepad handy to write down memory reinforcers. Sentences don't have to be complete, little notes will do. Write the English word as the heading, followed by your notes.  Better yet, if you don't have a handout or other printed sign vocabulary, draw little pictures of the sign to help jog your memory.

2. - Is the sign "iconic?" In other words, does it look like what it represents? Many ASL signs are iconic and that makes them very easy to remember! An example of this would be the sign for "Milk." It looks just like you're milking a cow!  Couldn't be any simpler!

3. - Is there another sign you already know that looks similar to the sign you want to learn? Sometimes, associating one sign with another can help you recall signs more quickly. When you forget a sign, another word comes to mind to help you remember what you learned. An example of this would be the similar signs for "Candy" and "Apple." They are both done at the cheek and with the pointer finger. The only difference is that "Apple" uses a bent index finger and "Candy" uses a straight index finger. If you simply remember that the sign for "Apple" is very similar to the sign for "Candy" and vice versa, your chances of recalling both signs increases dramatically.

4. - Is the sign you want to learn an "initialized" sign? This means, does the sign begin with the first letter of the associated English word? An example of this would be the ASL sign for "Yellow," where the sign is made using the "Y" hand shape. A short mental note of this will help you to recall the sign much more quickly.

5. - Does the ASL sign demonstrate the movement that the real object makes? For example, the sign for "Monkey" is done very similarly to how a monkey moves his arms. Once again, a short mental note of this will help you to recall the sign more quickly.

The best advice I can give you to help increase your ability to quickly learn and remember a sign is something my father taught me long ago, "practice makes perfect!" Sign the vocabulary over and over and over again in as many appropriate contexts as possible. The more you use the sign in your daily life, the easier it will be to recall and the more proficient you'll become.

Happy Signing!

Article Submitted by: Certified Sign2Me Instructor, Melissa "echo" Greenlee, Washington
Visit Echo's Instructors' Network web site here...

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