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Learning the ASL alphabet is the beginning of learning to sign.
Printable alphabet pages and other fingerspelling resources are available.
You can view the closed captions if needed by clicking on the Closed Caption [CC] logo on the video player above.
Hello! Welcome to the Learn Signs podcast, or learnsigns.com.
My name is David and I’m a sign language instructor. I’m not going to sign everything in these early lessons. At this point it doesn’t mean anything to you, and it makes it a lot easier for me.
We are going to learn basic sign language and some of the topics we will cover later will be much more advanced topics. But right now we are going to learn the alphabet. And we will keep these videos fairly short so that you can watch them in a few minutes and learn what you need to.
Along with the LearnSigns.com website you can get the video lessons like you are watching now. But then also I will have some papers you can print or websites to look at. So there’s resources there. If you go there where I post the video then I will link those resources there. For example, for this first lesson then we’re gonna have some resources on the alphabet and where you can find more information about that if you need to.
But let’s just jump right in and learn the alphabet and see how far we get tonight.
And you can do these with me.
Now, most of the time we’re going to have our palm out, I will explain a little more about that later, but right now keep your palm out when you can. However you can do some of these signs to the side.
B C D – It looks somewhat like a “d” as you write it on a board you can see the letter “d.”
E – Then take your fingers, there’s a couple of different ways to do this one, but I like to put my fingertips right on top of my thumb. And then you are going to pull your fingers in tight so that it is not out like this. It’s not lazy. Pull your fingers in tight. Sometimes you will see people do it with their fingers off the thumb. That is fine. But, again you want your fingers in tight.
E F G – Looks like a gun except you are pointing it down.
H I J – Just draw the letter J.
K – Now this is the thumb on the middle knuckle of the middle finger. You have your pointer finger pointing up and your middle finger pointing out. And then your thumb is going to sit right on that middle knuckle of the middle finger.
K L M N
Notice the difference there? M has 3 sticks on it just like if you write the letter M on paper you would have 3 sticks on the letter M. And now on N you have 2 sticks. So M is 3 sticks and you got the little humps here. And then N is 2 sticks with the little hump.
N O P – Now P is just like K. So remember you do your pointer finger up your middle finger out and the thumb on the middle knuckle on the middle finger. Now you’re going to point it down and that is the letter P. So K is up and P is down.
Q – This is just like G.
Q R – Just cross your fingers. R
S – Remember this letter? The letter A. A your thumb is on the side and it, if you think of the letter A it is round and it has a stick down the side. A – Now this one is S. This is just like a fist, you’re going to sock someone. S for sock.
S T – Your thumb is going to stick up between your fingers. So you have M with your thumb underneath 3 fingers. N with your thumb under 2 fingers. Now T your thumb is under 1 finger.
T U V
W – I have trouble with this letter. It is the 3 fingers sticking up. W X Y and then Z.
Let’s go through those again.
A B C D
Do you remember this one? F That’s right F. Now this is D. D your fingers are down and your index is up. With F your fingers are flying and your index finger is down. So D, fingers down. F, fingers flying.
D E F G H
G is with one finger pointing to the side. H is two.
I Just the little letter I.
J you draw the J.
K This is the index finger up and the middle finger out.
K L M N
O P Q R
S T U V
W or W X Y Z
Now when you are using the alphabet you want to keep your palm facing to the person you are talking to. You are not talking to yourself. So you don’t put your hand to you. You put your hand out.
Now there are a few letters that doesn’t work well with. For example the letters G and H my palm is to me. You will see some people turn their G and H out. That’s awkward. So just turn it to the side, more of a natural position. G H, and then the letter P your palm is facing down.
But for the most part, as much as you can, you want to keep your palm facing the person you are talking to.
Now when you do need to spell, and spelling is important, but learning how to fingerspell well is something many people don’t do. However, it is very basic. It is a basic part of sign language. So you need to learn how to fingerspell. And you need learn how to fingerspell well. It’s something that as you get more and more advanced in sign language you’re not going to have to do as much because you know more signs. However you need to learn it now.
And honestly, while a lot people learn basic fingerspelling, I will tell you it is the hardest part of sign language. Because there is really no association between this letter A and what an A is. I told you it is round and it has a stick on it. But the letter P? There is no association there.
This really, the fingerspelling part, I think is one of the hardest parts of sign language. And if you can learn that, then you can learn the rest of it. So don’t be discouraged or surprised, “Ah, this is the hardest part!” Don’t worry about that because it is just 26 letters. And then once you get those down then you have a good basis where you can learn a lot more. You can begin to interact with your deaf friends and get more information from them on how to do other signs properly.
So work on your alphabet this week. Work on getting those letters smooth and start spelling some words.
Now let me just give you a quick tip on spelling words, we will talk about this more in a later lesson. But when you spell a word try to spell the whole word. For example, if I am going to spell the word “cat”, I don’t spell C-A-T. I spell “cat.” Now, what’s the difference?
The difference isn’t so much here (hand) as it is here (head). In my mind when I spell “cat” it makes my hand work smoothly and clearly. And then I am not getting confused. If you have a longer word then spelling those longer words if you are trying to spell one letter at a time in your head you are going to get lost. But if you just spell the whole word as if it were a word, and it is, then it will make it easier to spell and it will also help you when you go to read fingerspelling. Because you are going to be able to start seeing whole words.
And we are going to drill some of that with you because it really is important that you learn your fingerspelling well. So work on your fingerspelling, your alphabet. And work on spelling some basic words.
And then go to LearnSigns.com get some of the papers that I will have for you, or links that I will have where you can get some printable papers that give you the alphabet and some other basic signs.
The LearnSigns.com website will be very important as we go through these lessons, because that’s where you can get other resources. And I will have other things besides the video. There will be other little articles and things of information to help you as we learn signs together.
So I appreciate you watching the video. Please go to LearnSigns.com to get more information and until next time have a great time practicing the fingerspelling and learning those letters well and we will do a lot more next time.
2 replies on “LearnSigns 001: The Alphabet”
Thank you so much for these instructional videos. I’ve decided to teach myself sign language. I was very anxious at first about it but I found your site and I feel a lot better knowing this is available to people like me.
Thank you, Fanti.
I really like how you approach these lessons. I am reviewing the videos again. Much appreciated.