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How To Learn Sign Language

American Sign Language – ASL Lesson 2 – Alphabet

Hello, everybody! In today’s lesson we will learn how to sign
the ASL alphabet. Also, signing itself, in this case letters,
is known as fingerspelling. So, let us begin. “A.” Notice how the thumb is off to the
side. This is important, okay? “B.” The sign looks like a letter “b”. “C.” “D.” “D” can have the fingertips
either be pointed like this or rounded like this. Either one works. “E.” Your thumb has to be below your fingers,
okay? Some say that your thumb has to be touching
your fingertips like this. Others say it’s fine just below. Either one works. “F.” Think of “fine.” “G.” Put your hands like this. “H,” like a little gun, if you want. “I.” See the little “i”? “J”. So just draw a “j” in the air. “K.” For “k” you raise two fingers and put
your thumb in the middle: “k”. “L”. “M.” M.” Think of the cursive “m,”
if you know cursive. It’s three little bumps. One, two, three. And your thumb is in between your pinkie and
ring finger. “N.” Your thumb is just one place over
for a cursive “n” so it’s two bumps. “N.” “O.” “P.” “P” is like
“g” but your middle finger is down. Down, mind you. And it can be signed either facing forward
like this or facing to the side like your region. Some signs change depending on where you live,
so you should be flexible about it. So “p” can be signed either like this
(facing forward) or like this (facing to the side). “Q,” like “g” pointing down. “R.” Two fingers kind of like over each
other. “S.” Important again. Make sure your thumb is over your fingers
so it looks like you can draw a little “s” there. If your thumb is here (to the side) it likes
like an “a” and if your thumb is below it looks like an “e”. So be careful that your “s” has your thumb
over your fingers, okay? “T.” Now if you shake “t,” that means
“toilet.” So: “WHERE TOILET?” It’s a very good sign. Also, “WHERE RESTAURANT?” “U.” Like “h” pointing up. “V.” “W.” “X.” “X,” like a
pirate’s hook. “Y”. “Z.” “Z,” you just draw a “z”
in the air. So that is the ASL alphabet. And when you start doing the ASL alphabet
and start spelling words, that’s called “fingerspelling.” Now fluent signers can fingerspell very quickly,
which is very difficult for newcomers, people who are still learning the language, and people
who are fluent in ASL still have trouble understanding fingerspelling. So, I’m going to teach you some tips. If someone is fingerspelling and you have
trouble understanding them, do not sign “again” or “slow.” This is a rule of courtesy. Imagine if someone comes up to you and keeps
saying, “Again, again. Slow, slow.” That will drive you nuts, reasonably. So, instead sign “what?” The English translation would be like “What,
sorry?” So, this will probably prompt them to start
fingerspelling again. As soon as their hand comes up, your hand
comes up, too. This signals that you want to sign with them. So if they start signing, bring up your hand
immediately, and if they sign “b,” you are supposed to mimic the letter “b.” This allows you to control their pace, because
if they’re polite, they won’t move on until your hand mimics theirs. Now keep in mind, do not copy the other person’s
letter until you’ve understood it. So if you’re just signing blindly, that
won’t help you much, but if you say that’s “a,” “a,” and start stringing together
words, okay? Speaking of stringing together words, it’d
be more apt to say “stringing together sounds.” When fingerspelling, to develop your fluency
at either reading fingerspelling or to fingerspell, you want to sound out syllables–full sounds–rather
than individual letters, because otherwise it’s difficult to string all those letters
together into a comprehensible word, especially if the word is long. For example, instead of spelling the word
“Cassandra” in your head–C-A-S-S-A-N-D-R-A–it’s easier to sound it out in bits. “CASS-AN-DRA.” See? Likewise, it’s easier to read fingerspelling
if you start sounding out the word in your heads rather saying each individual letter. Congratulations! You now have learned how to sign the ASL alphabet,
you now have learned how to fingerspell, as well as tips on how to increase your fluency
of fingerspelling. Good luck out there, signers!

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