What To Do After Completing My ASL Classes?

Completed your ASL Classes? Now What?

You've accomplished all the ASL levels offered at your college or university and think you have a great handle on signing ASL.

Let me tell you a secret - you've only begun.

College ASL Classes levels 1 - 3 usually is vocabulary building and ASL Level 4, usually is improving signing skills. After Level 3, the average student has about 1,500 signs in their repertoire, (give or take a few hundred). Compare that with the spoken vocabulary of an average 8-year old child - 10,000 words.

So, what's next? Here are some ideas to keep practicing and learning:


You may wonder why practice fingerspelling when you learned that in Level 1? Sadly, many students actually aren't fluent spellers.

    • Practice fingerspelling daily and often.
    • Video yourself fingerspelling.
        • Watch for bouncing movements. Aim for smooth transitions.
        • Do you mix up your palm orientation?
      • Work your speed. Increase your speed without sacrificing clarity.
  • Fingerspell unfamiliar words, foreign languages, medical terminology and other hard words.

ASL Numbers:

You'd be surprised to know how many people that learn ASL don't know their numbers well.

    • Practice counting smoothly and quickly.
    • Know the hundreds, thousands, millions.
  • Practice signing the years, dollar amounts, people's ages and phone numbers.

English Vocabulary within ASL:

Often, I see students wanting to be interpreters grumble about why they need college courses and/or a degree. The simplest answer is that in order to interpret, you need a firm understanding of English -vocabulary, definitions, alternate meanings and so on

    • Figure out the meaning of words. How would you sign that in ASL?
    • Look up spelling words that belong in the same category. Do you know how to sign all of those?
  • Look up words that have multiple meanings. Such as:
      • Run in a sock
      • Same run a business
      • Please doRun down the street
    • Runny nose.

In order to interpret a second language, you need to have a strong first language.

Receptive practice:

Watch as many ASL videos as you can (preferably by Deaf people):

    • Use the pause and rewind buttons often.
    • YouTube allows you to slow down the video speed.
    • Turn off the captioning and the audio and try and catch as you can.
  • Be willing to spend time trying to understand a video.

Expressive Practice:

Now, try and copy the signs. Pick a short video and emulate it.

Video yourself doing it and compare the two:

    • Pay attention to your handshapes.
    • Where you place them.
    • How you move them.
    • The direction of the movement.
  • The palm orientation.

Signing Conversation
Interactions using ASL:

Go out into your local Deaf community and interact with them. Learn the local sign variations and preferences.

Google "Deaf events in [insert your city]" and pick one:

    • Deaf Coffee night
    • Silent Dinner (usually at a local mall food court)
    • ASL Club (at colleges and universities)
    • Deaf clubs
    • Deaf expos and conferences
  • SignOn sessions to interact one-on-one with a Deaf adult.

The point is, interaction is so valuable in learning and retaining your ASL as the saying goes "you don't use it, you lose it" is very real.

You will never be done learning. I've been signing for most of my life, and I'm still learning.

Stay curious and SignOn.