4 facts you may not know about ASL

As the predominant language for the deaf community in the U.S., American Sign Language is used by more and more people every day. For those who are new to the language, here are some interesting facts about ASL you may not know.

The grammar of ASL is similar but different from that of English 

Deemed a foreign language in the U.S., ASL has its own grammar and syntax, and sometimes a new learner may need to get rid of the English structure to learn the new language quickly. 

As in English, many sentences in ASL are in the order of subject-verb-object; there’s also the passive voice in ASL, which is object-subject-verb, the signing is often accompanied by the raised eyebrows. This is called topicalization and in ASL, signing often goes with the facial expression to convey the full meaning of the sentences. 

Babies can start learning ASL earlier than a spoken language

Though four months old may be too young for a baby to learn a spoken language, parents can start to teach to sign at this time. By seven months, babies often begin signing back in response. The learning process for ASL is quite similar to that of a spoken language. Starting with signing easy words, children gradually learn complicated ones and master the grammar as they develop coordinative and cognitive skills. 

Moreover, babies are able to learn both sign language and a spoken language at the same time. When talking with the baby using a spoken language, you may sign along. From birth to 2 years old is the best period to learn languages, and babies can master both and have two native languages before preschool! 

Signing you see online may not be that accurate

While you can easily access ASL videos online, not all of these videos are accurate. This can be quite misleading for new ASL learners, as it is nearly impossible for a new learner to realize there are errors in those videos. This happens in popular media as well. If you are serious about learning ASL, register for an ASL course or find someone who you know can sign well.

There are tools for you to learn ASL

There are many apps available to learn introductory sign language, including some that use slow motion to ensure you can capture the details of every signing. In others, there are interactive video quizzes to help you review what you have learned. No matter if you are new to ASL or you want to brush up your conversational skills, there is something for you. Find a list of popular ASL apps here.