5 Great Tips on Retaining your ASL Skills

5 Great Tips on Retaining your American Sign Language Skills

Now that you've started learned American Sign Language (ASL), how do you remember it all? Unless you have an eidetic memory like Sheldon Cooper, you're bound to forget some signs.

Here are 5 great tips on remembering your ASL skills:

  1. Use it Everyday and Everywhere:

While you're going about your normal day, try and fingerspell and sign everything you're doing and looking at. Waiting for your bus? Fingerspell B-U-S and sign WAIT.

Sign social media posts to yourself or to your dog. Teach your partner or a friend some sign language and you two can have a conversation in silence.

  1. Read Through your ASL Lessons Daily:

Taking a few minutes every day to go through your ASL lessons will help with memory retention.

As you advanced through your lessons you then can start dropping the beginning chapters as these become familiar and rote.

It's been proven that studying in short bursts is the best way for memory retention.

  1. Use a Mirror or Video Yourself:

Practice with a mirror or a video camera (or your phone). Do your signs look the same as your teacher showed the class, or from a video you watched? If not, then you'll need to go over your lessons again or look up the correct sign.

Remember your signs being "close enough" doesn't work in ASL. Signing something "a little bit different" could have a whole other meaning and you might get some odd stares.

  1. Visualize Everything:

Remember that ASL is a visual language, so as you're learning, create visual descriptions for each sign and write them down.

The iconic signs are easy as they describe the action itself. But for arbitrary signs you'll need to come up with a visual description that'll help you remember.

For example, writing a description for the sign "Mother" would be "5 hand, thumb tapping chin".

  1. Watch ASL Videos:

Watch ASL videos on YouTube, on social media, or on Deaf websites. Don't worry about catching everything. Turn off the captioning and just watch the body language, facial expressions and signing style.

Watch again to see if you can catch any signs you do know, catch the gist of the message, and pick up new signs too. You then can turn the captioning back on and check how correct you were.

Learning American Sign Language takes just as long as any other foreign language. There may be moments of confusion and frustration, but we at SignOn are here to help you.

Connect with a Deaf Ambassador and we'll help make ASL fun again.