7 Best Courses & Apps To Learn American Sign Language (ASL)
- Donovan NagelTeacher, translator, polyglot🎓 B.A., Theology, Australian College of Theology, NSW🎓 M.A., Applied Linguistics, University of New England, NSW
Applied Linguistics graduate, teacher and translator. Founder of The Mezzofanti Guild and Talk In Arabic.
Looking for the best online American Sign Language (ASL) course to learn how to sign?
Interest in American Sign Language (and the deaf community worldwide) has been gaining popularity, with a surge in ASL apps and courses now available.
Beyond facilitating communication with the Deaf community, the advantages of mastering ASL are numerous.
Today I’m going to give you what I believe are the best online ASL courses and apps.
Below you’ll find pros and cons for each ASL course, pricing, and a summary. Wherever I can, I’ll link to a helpful review of the course or app so you can find out more.
The very best available ASL apps and courses
Cost: $69.95 (with auto-applied discount)
Summary: Rocket Sign Language (ASL) is perfectly suited for those who thrive on structured learning - those starting from basic signing and finger-spelling and progressing to advanced conversational skills. It has always been a top recommendation for ASL learners.
You don’t have to follow the course in a linear manner; you’re free to choose your own path if that suits your style better.
The course comprises of video lessons that teach all core aspects of ASL in a clear, engaging, and comprehensive manner.
If you’re on the hunt for a comprehensive ASL course, Rocket ASL is your best bet.
Also, take a look at this Rocket Languages review.
- High quality visual lessons with easy-to-follow signs
- Perfect for learners seeking structure in their learning journey (but not restricted to it), offering a clear progression path
- Courses encompass all aspects of ASL communication
- Students stay engaged and motivated through the inbuilt leaderboard
Could be improved:
- It would be better if it were more like the other Rocket courses in offering dialogues
Cost: $5.99 per month or $59.99 per year
Summary: Pocket Sign offers short and engaging lessons that are perfect for quickly picking up signs.
With topics ranging from food to technology, learners are given practical mnemonic tips on recalling signs. As you progress through the course, you’ll find diverse and practice activities to keep sustained interest in the lesson topics. It’s probably one of the better apps for the casual, time-constrained ASL learner.
They have a 14-day free trial.
- Short, topic-divided lessons make it easy to pick up signs.
- Useful mnemonic tips for each sign.
- Engaging and varied practice activities to hold attention.
- The inclusion of a dictionary to search and learn specific signs.
- Earn “treasure” rewards as a motivation tool.
Cost: Free with in-app upgrade ($98.99 per year, $47.99 per 3 months)
Summary: ASL Bloom is one of my personal favorites, after Rocket Sign Language. It’s an invaluable tool aimed at families and acquaintances of deaf children aiming to learn signing.
Specifically tailored for novices, the app covers the fundamentals, with a focus on spaced repetition techniques to bolster memory retention. Each sign is meticulously demonstrated through videos, and the platform incorporates practice quizzes, flashcards, and a dedicated sign bank for sign search.
A standout feature is ASL Bloom’s dedication to teaching learners about the nuances of deaf culture, fostering a better understanding of the context in which signs are used. Originating from the house of SignLab, there’s also the option to explore other sign languages (e.g. BSL) through their distinct apps.
- Comprehensive video demonstrations for precise sign learning.
- Insights into the profound elements of deaf culture and the mechanics of ASL.
- The ability to learn constructing phrases and sentences through signs.
- A “Sign Bank” feature that enables swift sign searches.
Cost: Varies greatly depending on teacher
Summary: It would be wrong of me not to include italki on this list, even though it’s not a “course”.
The purpose behind italki is to locate teachers of ASL (or any other language) and schedule video lessons over Zoom, Skype and so on. It’s what I call a “lesson facilitator”.
What I love about italki is that it’s very inexpensive and convenient, and you can find teachers from all over the world (so this is useful not only for ASL, but BSL, Auslan and others).
- Super convenient way to find and schedule Sign Language teachers around the world
Cost: Free, with a one-time $9.99 fee to unlock its best content
Summary: The ASL App was put together by the deaf community, primarily aiming to cater to friends and family eager to learn to sign. It’s quite simple in its design, but has categorized vocabulary lists spanning areas such as colors, education, and pop culture. Users can click on a particular list and engage with video flashcards, making signing along a seamless experience.
Each video can be replayed, saved to a dedicated favorites list for frequent practice, or even decelerated to grasp the intricate signing details. Some videos come with appended information on how to aptly use signs.
It’s basic in a lot of ways, but you can’t argue with the low price.
- Wide array of vocabulary lists catering to different interests.
- Option to watch videos in slow motion for in-depth learning.
- Favorites list to bookmark and frequently practice selected signs.
- Supplementary tips and context for effective sign utilization.
Cost: $17.99 per month, 3 months for $47.99 or $119.99 yearly
Summary: Lingvano’s excellent. It transforms the learning of sign language into an interactive game (a bit similar to Duolingo). Through incremental lessons, students grasp new signs, eventually weaving them into sentences and dynamic conversations.
Distinct from other apps, Lingvano accentuates the learning experience with a variety of practice activities, making it more than just about repetition. Activities include sign identification based on their meanings and verifying correctness of a sign in relation to a word.
What’s really cool is that the app can use your camera to check the accuracy of your signing technique.
Whether it’s American Sign Language (ASL) or British Sign Language (BSL) you’re keen on, Lingvano covers both.
- Offers lessons in both ASL and BSL.
- Engaging gamified learning approach.
- Diverse practice activities that move beyond mere repetition.
- In-app camera utilization for sign accuracy verification.
Cost: Free with ads. Ad-free at $4.99 for the first month, $6.99 per month thereafter, $29.99 for 6 months or $49.99 yearly
Summary: InterSign ASL also attempts to do what Duolingo does. As you master new signs in each lesson, there’s an opportunity to gauge your proficiency through quizzes.
The platform offers a comprehensive dictionary to search for signs and a thematic glossary spanning topics from food to holidays. The in-app forum is handy, in that it allows for interactive discussions with fellow ASL enthusiasts.
For those looking to refine their sign accuracy, the app also uses the camera to validate correct signing.
- Course is organized and structured, ensuring ease of learning.
- Ability to use your phone’s camera for sign verification.
- In-app forum for peer interactions and queries.
- Comprehensive dictionary and glossary tailored for thematic learning.
Could be improved:
- Ad interruptions during study sessions are annoying as hell (but you can be stop this with a premium subscription).
Summary: Best online American Sign Language courses
This pretty much sums up the best online ASL course and app options currently available (let me know if I missed any).
In addition to an ASL course, ensure you’re getting regular practice, ideally with those experienced in the language.
For that, italki remains a great way to find affordable practice partners and tutors, even for sign languages.
Remember, even if you have access to all the resources on this list, you’ll still struggle with ASL without the right motivation. Conversely, even a less-than-perfect ASL app or course can be effective when wielded by someone with immense determination to learn.
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Know of an ASL course or app that I didn’t mention?
Share it below in the comment section.
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