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How To Learn Sign Language Lesson 1: The Alphabet

Hello! Welcome to the Learn Signs podcast,
or My name is David and I’m a sign language
instructor. I’m not going to sign everything in these
early lessons. At this point it doesn’t mean anything to
you, and it makes it a lot easier for me. We are going to learn basic sign language
and some of the topics we will cover later will be much more advanced topics. But right
now we are going to learn the alphabet. And we will keep these videos fairly short
so that you can watch them in a few minutes and learn what you need to. Along
with the website you can get the video lessons like you are watching
now. But then also I will have some papers you can print or websites to look at.
So there’s resources there. If you go there where I post the video then
I will link those resources there. For example for this first lesson then we’re
gonna have some resources on the alphabet and where you can find more information about
that if you need to. But let’s just jump right in and learn the
alphabet and see how far we get tonight. A B And you can do these with me. Now, most of the time we’re going to have
our palm out, I will explain a little more about that later, but right now keep your
palm out when you can. However you can do some of these signs to
the side. B C D It looks somewhat like a “d” as
you write it on a board you can see the letter “d.” E then take your fingers, there’s a couple
of different ways to do this one. But I like to put my fingertips right on top
of my thumb. And then you are going to pull your fingers in tight so that it is
not out like this. It’s not lazy. Pull your fingers in tight. Sometimes you
will see people do it with their fingers off the thumb. That is fine. But,
again you want your fingers in tight. E F G Looks like a gun except you are pointing
it down. H I J just draw the letter J. K Now this is the thumb on the middle knuckle
of the middle finger. You have your pointer finger pointing up and
your middle finger pointing out. And then your thumb is going to sit right
on that middle knuckle of the middle finger. K L M N Notice the difference there? M has 3 sticks
on it just like if you write the letter M on paper you would have 3 sticks
on the letter M. And now on N you have 2 sticks. So M is 3
sticks and you got the little humps here. And then N is 2 sticks with the little hump. N O P Now P is just like K. So remember you do your pointer finger up
your middle finger out and the thumb on the middle knuckle on the middle finger. Now you’re going to point it down and that
is the letter P. So K is up and P is down. Q This is just like G. Q R Just cross your fingers. R S Remember this letter? The letter A. A your thumb is on the side
and it, if you think of the letter A it is round and it has a stick down the side. A Now this one is S. This is just like a fist,
you’re going to sock someone. S for sock. S T Your thumb is going to stick up between
your fingers. So you have M with your thumb underneath 3
fingers. N with your thumb under 2 fingers. Now T your thumb is under 1 finger. T U V W I have trouble with this letter. It is the
3 fingers sticking up. W X Y and then Z. Let’s go through those again. A B C D Do you remember this one? F That’s right
F. Now this is D. D your fingers are down and your index is
up. With F your fingers are flying and your index
finger is down. So D, fingers down. F, fingers flying. D E F G H G is with one finger pointing to the side.
H is two. I Just the little letter I. J you draw the J. K This is the index finger up and the middle
finger out. K L M N O P Q R S T U V W or W X Y Z Now when you are using the alphabet you want
to keep your palm facing to the person you are talking to. You are not talking to
yourself. So you don’t put your hand to you. You put
your hand out. Now there are a few letters that doesn’t
work well with. For example the letters G and H my palm is
to me. You will see some people turn their G and
H out. That’s awkward. So just turn it to the side, more of a natural
position. G H, and then the letter P your palm is facing
down. But for the most part, as much as you can,
you want to keep your palm facing the person you are talking to. Now when you do need to spell, and spelling
is important, but learning how to fingerspell well is something many people
don’t do. However, it is very basic. It is a basic part
of sign language. So you need to learn how to fingerspell. And
you need learn how to fingerspell well. It’s something that as you get more and
more advanced in sign language you’re not going to have to do as much because
you know more signs. However you need to learn it now. And honestly, while a lot people learn basic
fingerspelling, I will tell you it is the hardest part of sign language. Because there is really no association between
this letter A and what an A is. I told you it is round and it has a stick
on it. But the letter P? There is no association there. This really, the fingerspelling part, I think
is one of the hardest parts of sign language. And if you can learn that, then
you can learn the rest of it. So don’t be discouraged or surprised, “Ah,
this is the hardest part!” Don’t worry about that because it is just
26 letters. And then once you get those down then you
have a good basis where you can learn a lot more. You can begin to interact with your deaf friends
and get more information from them on how to do other signs properly. So work on your alphabet this week. Work on
getting those letters smooth and start spelling some words. Now let me just give you a quick tip on spelling
words, we will talk about this more in a later lesson. But when you spell a word
try to spell the whole word. For example, if I am going to spell the word
“cat”, I don’t spell C-A-T. I spell “cat.” Now, what’s the difference? The difference isn’t so much here as it
is here. In my mind when I spell “cat” it makes
my hand work smoothly and clearly. And then I am not getting confused. If you
have a longer word then spelling those longer words if you are trying to spell one
letter at a time in your head you are going to get lost. But if you just spell the whole word as if
it were a word, and it is, then it will make it easier to spell and it
will also help you when you go to read fingerspelling. Because you are going to be
able to start seeing whole words. And we are going to drill some of that with
you because it really is important that you learn your fingerspelling well. So work
on your fingerspelling, your alphabet. And work on spelling some basic words. And
then go to get some of the papers that I will have for you, or links
that I will have where you can get some printable papers that give you the
alphabet and some other basic signs. The website will be very important
as we go through these lessons. Because that’s where you can get other resources.
And I will have other things besides the video. There will be other little
articles and things of information to help you as we learn signs together. So I appreciate you watching the video. Please
go to to get more information and until next time have a great
time practicing the fingerspelling and learning those letters well and we will
do a lot more next time.

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