It's obvious that you're interested in sign language; otherwise you wouldn't have picked up this book. But did you know that you already use a natural form of gestural language every day? Nodding your head “yes,” shaking your head “no,” telling someone to call by holding an imaginary phone to your ear, and saying hello with a friendly wave are all natural gestures. With your natural gestures and this book in hand, you have already given yourself a wonderful head start into learning the basics of sign language.
This sign language book is user-friendly. It is designed to acclimate you slowly into the various parts of sign language, while being fun at the same time. It is not meant to be a heavy textbook or a sign language dictionary. It is concise in detail and filled with fantastic sign images using real models. Each chapter offers an easy and cumulative learning experience, and signs are presented in a progressive pattern.
While this book can be used on its own, it can also be used in conjunction with an American Sign Language (ASL) course and to assist in natural language acquisition through interaction with deaf friends, relatives, and their community. This book serves as a friendly bridge between the classroom, sign dictionary, and text. It will also fill in the gray areas those new signers often find confusing or challenging. You will acquire a better understanding of the various applications for sign language and the population that uses this visual mode of communication.
Perhaps you are a person who has studied languages but never received any real gratification — and certainly not instant gratification — from those studies. American Sign Language is different from other languages in that if you follow the easy-to-read instructions, you will be able to form signs quickly. The basic signs are easy to learn, and before you know it, you will be stringing them together in short sentences. This is true even if you are a person whose life is constantly punctuated by interruptions — you will be able pick up this book, put it down at your leisure, and still learn!
You can share the learning experience with family and friends by having them watch while you form the signs and see if you are signing it the way the images appear in the book. You can encourage them to learn with you and try to hold conversations using simple signs and natural gestural signs. Parents of young children can practice the basic signs while reading to their children, thus enhancing story time and language. At the same time, parents will be giving their children a head start in their own acquisition of ASL at the time when their language acquisition skills are most keen. A trip to a zoo, aquarium, or museum can be made into an exciting visually interactive language experience with the use of signs for the entire family.
You will be able to teach others the letters of the alphabet and practice fingerspelling words — this, of course, is after you have learned to sign all the letters of the manual alphabet. Some of the basic signs that are introduced here could be just enough for you to provide a patient in a hospital some comfort until an interpreter arrives. Then again, this book may spark enough interest to get you to consider changing your college focus or your career or motivate you to seek out that special job that requires communicating with a diverse population. Regardless of whether you have the opportunity to use sign language with a deaf or hard-of-hearing person, you will still be enriched by learning American Sign Language.