Learning Sign Language Book #1 at Amazon Hot New Release

Learning Sign Language at Amazon in the Hot New ReleasesMy new book, Learning Sign Language, is #1 in the “Hot New Releases” at Amazon in its category! That’s not like being a #1 best seller yet, but it does give the book more exposure. If you would like to help the exposure more, please leave a review at Amazon and/or the other retailers. You can leave a review of the book at a website even if you did not purchase the book from there.

Learning Sign Language — Now on 3 platforms!

The book is now available at the Nook and Kobo bookstores as well as Amazon. Please continue to let me know if you would like the book in another store.

The book is about 40 pages in length (if it were a printed title). Besides the main text of the book, there are interesting stories of learning sign language in other countries that you will enjoy reading. Please take the time to read more about Learning Sign Language.

Benefits of reading Learning Sign Language

As a student at you will still benefit greatly from the lessons in the book. A few of the items we have talked about in the videos, but there are many subjects we have not gotten to yet. One of these sections is about how to read and understand sign language. This is invaluable material for launching out on your own to learn from your deaf friends.

You and your friends, who may be taking other sign language classes, will benefit from the book. Because you watch my videos you have heard me explain fingerspelling. But, I promise, the section on fingerspelling will help improve your friend’s spelling ability. It would be thrilling to learn that they used the information in the book to help their teacher explain fingerspelling in a better way. So many people struggle with it when there is no need to do so. I wished all sign language teachers did a better job of teaching such a basic language skill.

There are practical tips on where you can get free sign language practice on the web. Links included!

Thanks for purchasing and spreading the word about Learning Sign Lanugage!


Sign Language is Not English

This is a guest post written by Jonathan Peach. Jonathan works at a hospital as an RN and also freelance interprets. I asked him what he would like to share with new sign language students and here was his reply.

A sign showing the idea of Sign Language not being the same as the English language.Sign language is not English that is put on the hands. American Sign Language (ASL) is its own language with its own rules and syntax. As you are learning this new language, remember it is a new language. Forget English syntax, sentence structure and word order, and focus on the rules of ASL.

English is a verbal language but a majority of the meaning in Sign Language is conveyed in body language and facial expression. As you work with the signs make sure you facial expression and body language match your intended meaning.

There are four components to every sign: location, palm orientation, hand shape, and movement. If you change just one component you can change the meaning of the sign.

Non-manual markers are also used to help with meaning or emphasis of a sign or concept. A non-manual marker is a mouth movement, facial expression, body movement or a combination of one or all of them. So as you continue to practice and learn, keep in mind, sign choice, sign production, and any non-manual markers to help convey your meaning.

Practice, practice practice. Stand in front of a mirror so you can see how you produce the sign and what your face and body “say.” Then ask yourself if they make sense. As often as you can, meet with the Deaf and attempt communication every chance you get. The more you practice and talk with the Deaf, the better and more confident you will feel.

As always, keep up the good work.


Book: Learning Sign Language

Purchase Learning Sign Language

Amazon Kindle Store
B&N Nook Bookstore
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Of course the book is about learning sign language. However, it isn’t a list of vocabulary and a bunch of pictures. There are many great sign language dictionaries that you can find and use. My book is a book full of tips and tricks on how to learn sign language quickly. Some of the information I have shared here at, but some of it is much more advanced than where we currently are with the lessons.

Book cover for Learning Sign LanguageRemember the lesson on fingerspelling? Now you can get all the information in one place written in such a way that you can put to practice the exercises I suggest and finally get a handle on spelling well. It should not take more than a couple of weeks to become a better fingerspeller. With the information in the book you will get better if you will learn what I teach.

There is a much more detailed explanation on how to notate signs than I was able to give in the video. You will learn the 5 elements of each sign and how to clearly and quickly put them down on paper so that you never have to forget how to do a sign again.

There is a large section on reading sign language. This is something we have not covered in the videos at any length, but a skill that you need to begin to master as you learn more vocabulary and begin to carry on real conversations in sign language.

Who is the book for?

Anyone taking sign language lessons from any teacher can benefit from this book. It is not required to be a new student at to get value from the content. The information can be used by any student who desires to learn sign language as quickly as possible.

You may not even be learning American Sign Language to benefit from this book. In 25 years as a student of sign language, interpreter and teacher of signs, I have traveled extensively and learned several other signed languages. Many of the principles in the book are applicable to other signed languages. If your interest in signs falls outside of ASL, or you would like to learn another signed language then this book is for you.

I need your help.

This book is now available as an ebook that you can read on your Kindle, Nook or Kobo reader. Each one of these can be read right on your computer with appropriate software.

Besides the Kindle, Nook and Kobo readers, where else do I need to concentrate my efforts on making a well formatted book for you and your platform of choice?

Please leave a comment below or send me an email if you have a prefered store outside of the Kindle/Nook/Kobo stores. Leaving a comment or emailing me will not obligate you to buy the book. I only need to know what your interest is. And, if there is just one person who writes me and asks for a certain format/platform, I will do my best to make it available for you. Don’t hesitate to speak up.

Learning to Sign is available for just $5 for the first two weeks. After that the price will be $8. Because of various ebook platforms and their rules, I can’t offer it for a cheaper price in one place than I do everywhere else. Therefore, if you want the cheaper price, I need to know your platform of choice as quickly a possible so I can have it ready for you.


Hurricane Sandy Interpreter — Lydia Callis

There was no video last week due to me being sick and preparing for a conference where I was able to talk about sign language and interpreting with a group of college students. A new video will be out either today or tomorrow.

In the news last week was the landfall of Hurricane Sandy in New York. Though I was out of touch with the news and everything that went on during the week, I did see comments about Mayor Bloomberg’s sign language interpreter. Her name is Lydia Callis. From the video clips I saw she did a great job.

There have been parodies done on some of the weekly entertainment shows like Saturday Night Live. Though I haven’t seen many of these, they have caused quite a stir.

Let me tell you about the controversy and see what we as students of the language can learn from the event.


The hearing who know nothing about sign language have commented on how animated Ms. Callis was while doing her job. Many times I will hear people who don’t even know sign language make comments about how good an interpreter is solely based on how animated they are. That is usually a sign that the interpreter is doing their job properly.

However, some people have also commented about how Ms. Callis seemed over-the-top with her animation. That is the nature of the language. It is possible to be too animated, but I don’t think she was. When, as an interpreter, your actions upstage the main speaker then you are too animated. In the case of Mayor Bloomberg what Ms. Callis did was a difficult task. Because he is so monotone and un-animated in the video clips I saw, any interpreter would upstage him.

Dissemination of Information

What a great way to alert the deaf public for such an important event! Certainly this is not the norm.

News and events like this are supposed to be closed captioned. However, if you have ever watched the captioning of live television you know that it is a difficult task for the person typing the information. I do not mean at all to denigrate the work of those who do live captioning. It has to be tough. However, reading it sometimes is challenging for a good reader. I would much rather see an interpreter than read captioning that contains typos and is 5 second behind.

Even when these events have an interpreter in the video screen in the corner they are often hard to see and many times covered by video overlays. I applaud the news media’s decision to include the live interpreter in the video next to the mayor.

The Parodies

The National Association of the Deaf has even weighed in on some of the parodies. They have written a letter asking that one of the TV programs apologize for the way they have mercilessly teased the interpreter. Is this necessary? I don’t know but it sends a message that what the interpreter did was important, difficult and appreciated. Even if the general public does not understand the job of the interpreter, the Deaf do and they are thankful.

Again, I have not watched all of the parodies, but the one short one I have seen was very unkind to Ms. Callis and was disrespectful to the importance of the language.

Mental Floss Article

There is a great article at the website which explains why the interpreter looked so animated (even though Mayor Bloomberg is not). The article goes through and breaks down some of the things Ms. Callis did while interpreting and why she did it. It is an excellent article to read as a primer on some of the visual intricacies of sign language.

The ABCs of ASL

There is a book called A Basic Course in American Sign Language. As a new sign language student it is the book I would recommend you start with on how to implement some of the elements that you see in the way Ms. Callis interpreted. There are books that handle this information on a much more profound level, but this book is a good introduction to the facial expressions and movements that help modify the words being signed.

The ABCs of ASL is a book that is understandable and written with the new student in mind. Besides being a book on how to use the language it covers quite a bit of new vocabulary for the beginning sign language student.


Sign Language Alphabet – ASL

Image of the ABCs in ASL hand signsThere are tons of great resources on the web for learning the alphabet. Because it is only 26 images, it makes it easy to create a single sheet handout for sign language classes. Listed below are few suggestions for getting started.

If you need to print one of these to help you study, then choose one with the line drawing of the letters. Also, you can grab the Gallaudet font so that you can make your own study sheet. Plus the font is fun to use in many other projects!