How to Easily Learn ASL 1 With Mr. D Sign Language Courses

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When my kids entered high school and began researching their options for foreign language credits, I knew sign language would be a great fit for our family. I wanted to find ASL homeschool classes that would work for the whole family and fit our homeschool lifestyle.

My mom was a sign language interpreter so I grew up with sign language in my home. And while I am not proficent by any means, I am aware of the beauty and practicality of this visual language.

In addition, ASL is the third most used language in the US other than English. This makes it a practical skill for kids to learn that could benefit them in ways that haven’t imagined. ASL (American Sign Language) is a fantastic option for foreign language high school credit!

And best of all, you can begin learning ASL at any time, even if you aren’t ready for high school credit. It’s a wonderful language to begin learning in elementary and middle school.

{This post contains affiliate links. I requested access to this course in exchange for my honest review. Read my full disclosure.}

ASL Homeschool Classes for Foreign Language Credit

If your child is interested in taking a homeschool class for American Sign Language (ASL) to use as their high school foreign language credit, you should confirm that it is accepted at the potential colleges you child might attend.

We began by looking at the requirements for entrance into our state college system, the North Carolina State Universities. The admissions requirements on the UNCW page made it clear that Sign Language did fulfill the foreign language credit in North Carolina. We checked a few other state universities and then felt comfortable with this decision.

This page on the University of New Mexico’s website lists all of the colleges that will accept ASL as a foreign language credit. As with any list, you should confirm the information on the colleges website by looking at their individual requirements, but it does give you an idea of how many colleges are now accepting sign language as a foreign languge.

ASL 1 Homeschool Classes with Mr. D

When I saw that Mr. D offered an ASL course, I was thrilled because it meant that I could register with confidence. Our experiences with Mr. D’s math classes have been top notch. Mr. D’s online classroom is easy to use and the customer support is unbeatable, so I felt confident in choosing his ASL homeschool classes for our family.

Take a peek at Patricia signing the numbers 1-30 on one section of her first exam during ASL 1:

Plenty of Options

Mr. D offers a wide range of options for students interested in ASL. These courses are self-paced video based courses that you can join at any time during the year:

ASL 1 (Beginner Sign Language)
Students will learn signs that will allow them to participate in basic signing conversations. In addition to learning signs, students will learn the history of Deaf culture and etiquette when conversing with a Deaf person. There will be a Deaf guest who will share his/her experience and sign with the students.

ASL 2 (Intermediate Sign Language)
In ASL 2, students will build upon the skills they learned in ASL 1 by increasing their signing vocabulary; practicing their perceptive skills (seeing a sign and knowing what it means); and using their receptive skills with more “hands up” assignments.  Students will learn more about Deaf culture and the Deaf community through their homework.  They will have the opportunity to converse with a Deaf person and hear about their personal experiences in the Deaf world! 

ASL 3 (Advanced Sign Language)
In this ASL 3 course, students will be expected to put in the effort to learn above and beyond what is required for their second language credit.  This course is designed for students who have an interest in ASL; either as a possible future career or just out of the love of learning it!  The students will learn more signs to allow them to converse at a higher level and do more assignments where they get their hands up!  

For many colleges, you need to commit to at least two years of the same language, so finding an option that can lead you through at least two years

Support from an Experienced Teacher

Thia, the instructor for Mr. D’s ASL courses, is a graduate of Gallaudet University, the only deaf college in the world. She has a BA in interpretation.

Her self-paced videos are the backbone of the ASL course. In each video, she teaches vocabulary-based sign language around a theme or includes a video with information about the deaf community and culture.

Here is a look at Thia’s lesson on signs about school:

In addition to videos each week, Thia offers timely feedback on the assignments that require a video or written submission. She is also available once a month for a live help session so you can ask questions and interact with peers in the class.

ASL 1 Vocabulary Building

One of the key foundations of any language during the first year is vocabulary building. There is a TON of basic vocabulary to learn and memorize in the language.

Mr. D’s ASL 1 with Thia is full of vocabuarly building by theme. You’ll begin by learning ABCs and numbers and then add signs by topics such as:

Birthdays
Colors
Foods
Family
Halloween
Animals

and so much more.

Lessons are also taught about using important words such as when, where, and which. There are lessons that help learners add verbs to their vocabulary and a lesson to explain the differences between have, want, and need in ASL.

ASL classes for homeschool families include an introduction to lots of vocabulary

There was so much vocabulary each week that I started my own list to keep track of all of the words we were using. There isn’t a printable or bank of words available as part of the course, so I do recommend keeping your own list of words you have learned. I type up the words after each lesson and include my own crazy description of the sign.

We use my vocabulary list to review each day. Each day we review signs from a prior lesson and then practice the new signs for the week. This routine works well for our family so we remember all of our growing sign language vocabulary.

ASL 1 Teaches Deaf Culture

Of course, ASL courses shouldn’t only focus on vocabulary building and language. One key component of an ASL course is learning about deaf culture and the deaf community. The experiences of deaf children and adults must be part of any complete ASL learning experience.

Mr. D’s ASL 1 course includes many excellent videos that introduced our family to the uniqueness of the deaf community. We learned the history of Gallaudet College and its president. One chosen video took us into the world of deaf theater performance. Another lesson included a short video about “curing” deafness and what that might mean to members of the community. There were many more videos included that taught us important aspects of deaf culture.

Learning about the deaf community and culture is a “must have” component of ASL courses and I have learned so much from the videos included in Mr. D’s ASL 1 course.

Another resource that everyone in our family read was the book, El Deafo by CeCe Bell. My mom, a former interpreter, read it at our house and thought it was an excellent book about the real experiences of deaf children. I decided to read it and include it as part of our ASL 1 course.

Additional ASL Resources and Fun

I can’t write about our year with Mr. D’s ASL course without included this amazing playlist of the Hamilton Broadway Musicals performed in ASL. Videos like this aren’t required for an ASL homeschool class, but they sure are fun. They also open learners’ eyes to the beauty and fun of this visual language.

Be sure to check out the entire playlist, but in the meantime, here is one of the performances:

I remember my mother used to tell me how difficult it was to sign music. She always practiced the lyrics ahead of time because ASL isn’t just word-for-word matching. I immediately sent these videos to her and she loved them as well. This young lady does an incredible job capturing the flavor of the music in her performances.

Additional Support and Practice for ASL 1

The website, Life Print, is a great resource if your kids want to look up specific words in sign language. You’ll find an ASL dictionary and a ton of ASL lessons.

Unfortunately, it isn’t the easiest site to navigate, but it’s a great resource when you want a certain word or want to find a few phrases for review.

It’s been a great year with Mr. D’s ASL 1 course. I look forward to progressing to ASL 2 after reviewing and practicing more this summer. If you are considering ASL for your family, I recommend exploring his ASL courses today:

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