Can I Teach Myself Sign Language?

Medically Reviewed on 12/16/2022
Sign Language
Knowing sign language allows you to communicate with people who have hearing disabilities in your neighborhood or family.

Sign language is quite complex, and it is not easy to teach yourself. You need professional help to understand and learn sign language better.

People who are deaf and partially deaf use sign language as their primary mode of communication. People with such family and friends wish to learn sign language to communicate better.

What are the types of sign languages?

There are various sign languages, including American Sign Language, British Sign Language, etc. Hand signals might differ depending on the type of sign language. The first step of learning sign language is to choose the type of language depending on where you live and what language you speak.

Sign languages are classified into three categories:

  1. Deaf sign languages:
    • The preferred language of deaf communities globally.
    • Includes village sign languages used by both hearing and deaf communities.
  2. Auxiliary sign languages: Sign systems are used in conjunction with oral and spoken languages.
  3. Signed modes of spoken languages: Connects signed and spoken languages.

How long does it take to learn the American sign language?

American Sign Language (ASL) courses spread out over two to three years and progress from beginner to intermediate ability.

It may take another two years of ASL/English interpretation instruction to achieve intermediate fluency. Furthermore, becoming proficient will take at least a few years or more after graduating from the ASL/English interpreting school.

Individual signals are relatively simple to understand. Like every spoken language, ASL has grammar and syntactic rules. It might take a year or more to learn enough signs for basic conversation and sign them comfortably. Some people detect signals more slowly than others; each person learns sign language at their pace.

ASL is a visual-based language. The brain processes linguistic information through the eyes while signing. Therefore, facial expressions and body movements are vital to conveying information. Although it is possible to sign without facial expressions or body motions, doing so may deliver a mixed message or lead to misinterpretation. It will appear strange or unusual to native signers.

While learning sign language, speed is not important; you will learn better if you learn with patience. You must sign even if you do so slowly. If you are often asked to repeat yourself, it is an indication that you should slow down and sign as clearly as possible. It is crucial to convey your message, connect with another individual, and be understood.


What is hearing loss? See Answer

How to learn sign language

Knowing American Sign Language lets you communicate with people who have hearing disabilities in your neighborhood or family.

Most community colleges or educational institutions have a curriculum for sign language. 

Other ways to learn sign language include:

  • Online paid courses
    • Can be a good alternative to in-person classes.
    • Some deaf organizations and institutions offer these courses.
    • Are more adaptable because you can fit them into your schedule according to your preferences.
    • You may practice as often as you like, and there is rarely any pressure to finish.
  • Free online videos
    • YouTube and other platforms have videos to learn sign languages.
  • Join deaf club
    • Many cities have deaf clubs or groups of deaf individuals that gather regularly and frequently to communicate using sign language.
    • Meet individuals who have hearing loss and practice your sign language abilities.
  • Hire private instructor
    • A private instructor would be the best approach to learning sign language quickly.
    • Look for skilled sign language tutors in your region who are ready to provide private instruction.
    • Courses can be completed in one-on-one sessions or small groups of your choosing.
  • Video chat apps
    • You may use video text messaging applications to effortlessly talk with other people who use or are learning sign language to practice.
    • You can connect remotely with other learners to share your learning experience using several phone applications with varied functionalities.
    • You may develop a timetable and practice sign language regularly.
Medically Reviewed on 12/16/2022
Image Source: Getty image

How Long Does It Take To Learn Sign Language? Overview.