So you’re thinking about learning American Sign Language (ASL) on Duolingo? That’s awesome. As many as half a million people in the U.S. and Canada have ASL as their native language.
Knowing sign language lowers communication barriers between you and people who cannot speak for one reason or another. Finding a place to learn ASL and get started is a great first step to opening the doors to communicating with thousands more people.
Does Duolingo Have ASL?
Duolingo is a very popular language-learning app. Founded in 2011, it is now one of the world’s most popular language apps. It has lessons in more than 40 languages, including two fictional ones, Klingon and High Valyrian.
Despite offering a wide variety of languages, Duolingo does not offer ASL. Fortunately, several apps and websites can help you learn ASL.
What is ASL and Who Speaks It?
American Sign Language was first developed in the 1800s with roots in French Sign Language.
It’s a system using hand shape, palm orientation, facial expression, posture, and other cues to communicate. Between 250,000 and 500,000 people in the United States and Canada use ASL as their native language.
Is ASL Hard to Learn?
ASL can be hard for native English speakers to learn because its sentence order differs from English, and you must use gestures unique to ASL.
ASL involves moving body parts
Learning American Sign Language or another sign language demands the practice of moving body parts in ways spoken language speakers may not be used to. This category includes hand, arm, eye, and face expressions.
These motions may be just as difficult for new sign language learners to pick up as the sounds of a new spoken language.
ASL is more conceptual
When compared to spoken languages, ASL is more conceptual. ASL’s visual nature makes it simpler to make the link between a sign and its message than it is in spoken languages.
In American Sign Language, the word “book” is signified by forming the shape of an open book with both hands.
However, the term “book” does not evoke this particular mental picture in English. If you aren’t sure what it means, it’s not easy to guess.
These conceptual links are clearly more widespread in written than spoken language, even though not all signs look like what they represent.
asl has a different word order
The word order in ASL is different from that in English. If you’re an English speaker studying American Sign Language, you may find the word order a little unusual initially.
How you put together phrases in American Sign Language might vary greatly depending on the subject matter. In ASL, indirect objects follow the person and are indicated by visual cues.
While you may have some initial difficulty, ASL is a language that developed naturally over the years, and the reasons behind the signs will help you remember them.
How to Learn ASL
ASL Experts say class instruction is the best way to learn the ASL language. You can either learn in person or through virtual classes. You can also learn via apps or videos.
What Apps Can I Use To Learn ASL?
There are several different places you can learn ASL, including apps and websites. First, let’s go through the apps.
Check them out and find the best ASL app for you.
- Conversational ASL is the focus of the ASL App (ASL for the People). There are over a thousand signs and words for adults, and even a version of American Sign Language featuring the Care Bears for youngsters.
- The Hand Talk app translates English into ASL signs.
- SignSchool is a free app on IOS and Android that lets you learn from different signers and test your knowledge with multiple-choice games.
- Deaf people passionate about teaching ASL created LingVanO, which offers 10-minute daily lessons.
- Marlee Signs features Academy Award-winning deaf actress Marlee Matlin teaching the fundamentals of ASL.
ASL Learning Websites
Gallaudet University offers online ASL language courses that can earn you college credit.
Mango Languages offers lessons in more than 70 languages, including ASL. They offer one lesson free, and then you must subscribe.
However, check your local library: they may offer free access to Mango Languages through their website or computers.
Bill Vicars offers many ASL learning videos on his YouTube page @sign-language.
Want to hit the ground running? Start by learning high-frequency words in ASL.
ASL is not just the sign for English words; it is its own language. And like learning any new language, it will have challenges.
Even though there’s no Duolingo ASL option, you now have many options for learning American Sign Language on your computer or smartphone.
Why Doesn’t Duolingo Have American Sign Language?
ASL combines many hand and facial gestures, which may be difficult to replicate on their current app. Furthermore, there is no universal sign language, as many sign languages exist worldwide, such as British Sign Language (BSL) and Australian Sign Language (Auslan).
DOES DUOLINGO HAVE PLANS TO OFFER AN ASL COURSE?
Duolingo is primarily focused on writing and reading, so providing an ASL course may prove challenging. At the moment, Duolingo doesn’t have any plans to offer an ASL course.
Caitriona Maria is an education writer and founder of TPR Teaching, crafting inspiring pieces that promote the importance of developing new skills. For 7 years, she has been committed to providing students with the best learning opportunities possible, both domestically and abroad. Dedicated to unlocking students' potential, Caitriona has taught English in several countries and continues to explore new cultures through her travels.