WORKBOOK FOR MOBILE USERS :) - student project

Welcome to the American Sign Language Academy curriculum for:

American Sign Language - Level One

The video presentation you are about to use, along with these printed materials, is designed to teach you the foundation skills of American Sign Language - ASL. The majority of products offered to prospective students of ASL are reference works, such as dictionaries, that show you what to do, but don't teach you how to do it.

Realizing the need for students to be guided through the learning process, we used our level one curriculum that has been successful in our classrooms for two decades to produce this work. Our level one ASL classroom course is eighteen hours of instruction, covering exactly what you will be learning. Though the video part of this program is less than three hours long, careful teaching is provided so you will have the same success in learning as our students do in our live classrooms.

Each aspect of the language is explained and modeled for you. What is important for you as a student is to pause the presentation and take the time you need to work on your own with the vocabulary and sentence practice pages.

Be patient. Don't try to rush the process. ASL is a three-dimensional, moving language that will take some time and effort to master. Have in mind that your goal is to learn the material that would take eighteen hours in a classroom setting.

We sincerely hope you enjoy and benefit greatly from ASL Level One.

Blue Collar Linguistics

What is American Sign Language?

American Sign Language, commonly referred to as ASL, is the natural language of most deaf people in the United States and Canada. ASL is not used in other English-speaking countries in the world such as Great Britain or Australia.

ASL is a complete language. It can express any idea as fully as any spoken language. Information is received through vision and is expressed with hands and body. It is therefore categorized as a visual-gestural language.

While actual signs are very important in conveying information, they provide only part of the message. Facial expression and body language are vital components of ASL.

How long does it take to learn ASL? While a specific time frame cannot be given, it can be said that since ASL is a language, it takes as long to learn as it does to learn any other language. Factors such as natural ability, level of motivation, quality of instruction and opportunity to practice will affect your success in learning. So, it does take time, but you will find it is a rewarding and satisfying experience.

ASLA Level 1 March 2011


Level 1

In this introductory level, you will develop the foundation skills you need to make you successful in learning ASL. The focus of this level is forming clear handshapes for clear sign production.

Students will be presented with the following vocabulary:

The alphabet; numbers 199; colors; family; feelings; animals; foods; common nouns; common greetings; non-directional verbs; days of the week; months of the year, and fingerspelling. Students will practice this vocabulary in sentences and gain exposure to the first two of the eight basic ASL sentence structures - Affirmation and Negation. By the end of the course, students will have signed two short stories.

Pages 18 and 19 will summarize the development of deaf education in the United States and the start of our modern American Sign Language. This will acquaint students with the reason why ASL is still strongly connected to French Sign Language today, but has no connection to British Sign Language.

The main goal of this level is for you to produce clear, smooth handshapes. Handshapes are the same as pronunciation in a spoken language. If your handshapes are unclear, your message will be unclear. If your handshapes are clearly produced, you will be understandable.

ASLA Level 1 March 2011


ASL is comprised of about 50 handshapes. From these handshapes, an entire language is produced. How is that possible?

There are four components to an ASL sign:


If you change one of these, you will change the sign into a different meaning, or nonsense. It is therefore important for you to master the handshapes of the language first. This is your “pronunciation” in ASL. Your eye will be drawn to the motion of signs. What is most important for you to put vocabulary into long-term memory is for you to focus on the handshapes. If you don’t know the handshape, you cannot produce the sign.

By learning the manual alphabet and numbers, you will gain the majority of handshapes you need. With the vocabulary you will learn at this level, you will acquire the remaining handshapes. In addition, some of these handshapes may be used as Classifiers - handshapes that represent an entire category of signs.

With these handshapes combined with movement, location and different palm positions, we can create many hundreds of signs. Your eye is naturally drawn to the movement. Focus first on the handshape. Adding classifiers and context, we have the means to express a complete language.

ASLA Level 1 March 2011



Blue, green, purple, yellow
These four are done in the same area - on the
dominant side of the body. The dominant hand is the hand you write with. For signs done with one hand, this is the one you should use.

Brown, tan
These are done in the same area on the dominant side of the face.

Orange, red and pink are done in the area of the chin.

Gold and silver are done from the dominant side earlobe. White is from the chest to the front of the body. Black is on the forehead. Gray is in front of the body.

There are ways to express an endless number of shades and hues. You will learn these techniques at more advanced levels.

These tips on location should help you remember!

There are three types of signs in ASL: A one-handed sign, such as is used in fingerspelling and numbers; a two-handed sign that is symmetrical - both hands doing the same thing; and a two-handed sign where the dominant hand does all or most of the action. As you move on to learn signs for animals, notice these three types. When you aren’t sure which hand to use for movement in a two-handed sign that isn’t symmetrical, remember that it is the dominant hand.

You will learn 14 colors:

ASLA Level 1 March 2011


ASLA Level 1


1. I like red
2. I like gold
3. I like brown
4. I like green
5. I like purple
6. I like orange

7. I like tan
8. I like silver
9. I like white

10. I like blue
11. I like gray
12. I like pink
13. I like black

14. I like yellow

15. I want green

16. I want yellow

17. I want purple

18. I want silver

19. I want black

20. I want brown

21. I want orange

22. I want tan

23.I want pink

24. I want gold

25. I want red

26. I want gray

27. I want white

28. I want blue

29. I have pink

30. I have blue

31. I have black

32. I have tan
33. I have orange

34. I have brown

35. I have gold

36. I have gray

37. I have red

38. I have green

39. I have yellow

40. I have silver

41. I have purple

42. I have white

Repeat these sentences until your signing is smooth and clear.

ASLA Level 1 March 2011



1. Animal

2. Lion
3. Tiger
4. Bear

5. Crocodile

6. Cat
7. Fox
8. Owl

9. Dog
10. Bug
11. Deer
12. Raccoon

13. Skunk

14. Turtle

15. Squirrel

16. Horse

17. Pig

18. Frog
19. Wolf
20. Elephant

21. Snake

22. Bird
23. Duck
24. Rhino

25. Hippo

26. Fish
27. Shark

28. Whale

29. Dolphin

30. Eagle
31. Octopus

32. Sheep

33. Goat
34. Butterfly

35. Turkey

36. Spider
37. Sea Turtle

38. Rabbit
39. Rat
40. Mouse

41. Giraffe

42. Cow
43. Monkey

44. Gorilla

45. Worm
46. Zebra
47. Seal
48. Penguin

ASLA Level 1 March 2011


ASLA Level 1

1. I like lions
2. I like tigers
3. I like bears
4. I like crocodiles / alligators

5. I like cats

6. I like foxes

7. I like owls

8. I like dogs

9. I like bugs

  1. I like deer

  2. I like raccoon

  3. I like skunks

  4. I like turtles

  5. I like squirrels

  6. I like horses

  7. I like pigs

  8. I like wolves





  1. ____________________

  2. ____________________

  3. ____________________

    Create new sentences by substituting different signs

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ASLA Level 1

  1. My lion yellow

  2. My tiger orange

  3. My bear black

  4. My skunk white

  5. My raccoon tan

  6. My deer brown

  7. My bug silver

  8. My dog white

  9. My owl pink

  10. My fox gold

  11. My cat purple

  12. My crocodile/alligator


  13. My turtle black

  14. My squirrel red

  15. My horse brown

  16. My pig pink

  17. My frog yellow

  18. My wolf gray

  19. My eagle gold

  20. My dolphin blue

21.My whale white 22.

My shark tan23.

My fish age 27
24. My hippo age 25

25. My rhino age 16

26. My duck age 4
27. My bird age 3
28. My snake age 13

29. My elephant age 29

30. My octopus age 66

31. My goat age 21

32. My sheep age 55
33. My butterfly age 19

34. My turkey age 86

35. My spider age 14

36. My worm age 1
37. My gorilla age 11

38. My monkey age 12

39. My cow age 23
40. My giraffe age 28

41. My mouse age 44

42. My rat age 25
43. My rabbit age 21

44. My sea turtle age 23

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Foods, Drinks


1. Coffee
2. Cream

3. Sugar
4. Milk
5. Cereal
6. Eggs
7. Bacon
8. Sausage

9. Toast
10. Bread

11. Butter

12. Muffin

13. Pancake

14. Tea

15. Juice

16. Orange

17. Banana

18. Peach


21. Cheese

22. Chicken

23. Steak

24. Fish

25. Turkey

26. Sandwich

27. Vegetable

28. Potato
29. Corn
30. Peas
31. Carrots

32. Lettuce

33. Salad
34. Pizza

35. Soup
36. Pie
37. Water

38. C-O-K-E

39. Pepsi

40. Soda

41. Onion
42. Hot Dog
43. Hamburger

44. Peanut
45. Jelly
46. Melon
47. Watermelon

48. Ice Cream

49. Candy
50. Gum

ASLA Level 1 March 2011


Create new sentences by substituting different signs

ASLA Level 1

Sentence type: Affirmation

1. I want coffee
2. I want bacon
3. I want eggs
4. I want salad
5. I want cereal
6. I want milk
7. I want sugar
8. I want cream
9. I want cheese
10. I want fruit
11. I want tomato
12. I want apple

27. 13. I want peach

  1. I want juice

  2. I want tea

  3. I want hot dog

  4. I want turkey

  5. I want candy

  6. I want peas

  7. I want potato

  8. I want hamburger

  9. I want spaghetti

  10. I want sandwich

  11. I want pancake

14. I want banana

15. I want orange


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Create new sentences by substituting different signs

1. Girl
2. Boy
3. Mother

4. Father
5. Grandma

6. Grandpa

7. Woman

8. Man
9. Aunt
10. Uncle

11. Niece

12. Nephew

13. Cousin

14. In-law
15. Daughter
16. Son
17. G-R-A-N-D daughter 18. G-R-A-N-D son
19. Wife
20. Husband
21. Sister
22. Brother
23. Divorce
24. Separate
25. Marry

ASLA Level 1 March 2011


Family and relationships

Hyphenated letters (s-t-e-p) indicates this is fingerspelled. Hyphenated words (in-law) indicate this is a single sign.

ASLA Level 1

  1. My sister age 19

  2. My aunt age 72

  3. My niece age 10

  4. My grandma age 93

  5. My wife age 25

  6. My daughter age 28

  7. My mother age 63

  8. Woman age 36

  9. My brother age 47

10. My nephew age 17

11. My grandpa age 87

12. My father age 69

13. My uncle age 66
14. My husband age 29

15. My son age 23
16. Girl age 13
17. Boy age 8
18. Man age 39
19. My g-r-a-n-d daughter

age 9
20. My g-r-a-n-d son age 12

21. My mother-in-law age 46

22. My sister-in-law age 23

23. My cousin age 21

Practice until the signs are produced smoothly and easily.
Now sign through number 23 by replacing “age” from the top half of the page with “like food” or “like drink”.

1. My sister like (food/drink)
2. My aunt like (food/drink)
3. My niece like (food/drink)
4. My grandma like (food/drink)
My wife like (food/drink...continue through number 23)

ASLA Level 1 March 2011



  1. Run

  2. Walk

  3. Jump

  4. Dance

  5. Sing

  6. Swim

  7. Play

  8. Drive

  9. Write

  10. Draw

  11. Sleep

  12. Cook

  13. Laugh

  14. Eat

  15. Drink

  16. Read

  17. Bike

  18. Sit

  19. Count

  20. Paint

  21. Visit

  22. Stand

  23. Work

  24. Talk

  25. See

26. Learn
27. Study

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28. Teach
29. Know
Don’t-Know 31. Like
Don’t-Like 33. Want
Don’t-Want 35. Have


1. Emotion 2. Angry 3. Hungry 4. Happy 5. Sad

6. Tired
7. Surprised 8. Bored
9. Afraid 10. Nervous 11. Excited 12. Enjoy
13. Thirsty


1. Deaf
2. Hearing (person) 3. Hard-Of-Hearing 4. No
5. Yes
6. Love (2)
7. Hate
8. Bad
9. Good
10. Understand
11. Stop
12. Voice-Off
13. Please
14. Again / Repeat 15. Forgive / Excuse 16. Can

ASLA Level 1
Sentence practice using the sentence structure:

1. My turtle jumps.
2. My aunt works.
3. My sister laughs.
4. My brother dances.

5. My niece draws.

6. My father walks.
7. My mother swims.
8. My grandmother bikes.

9. My mother reads.
10. My grandmother cooks.

11. My grandfather drives.


12. My grandmother sits.

13. My cousin is writing.

14. My nephew stands.

15. My family bikes.

16. My cousin plays.

17. My uncle eats.

18. My snake swims.

19. My bird dances.

20. My bear sleeps.

21. My dog talks.

22. My uncle runs.

ASLA Level 1 March 2011


Create new sentences by substituting other signs.

1) My name

2) I age
(1 - 99)

3) I like



4) I like

5) I want

6) I like

7) I like

8) My




(family member) 9) She / He age

  1. 10)  She / He has

  2. 11)  She / He wants

  3. 12)  She / He likes

  4. 13)  She / He likes

(animal) (animal) (food) (drink)

“She” and “He” are indicated by pointing to an area in front of you, on the side of your dominant hand. This is called Spatial Referencing. This is how pronouns are indicated in ASL.

ASLA Level 1 March 2011



  1. 1)  Hello, my name (first and last)

  2. 2)  I born (month, day, year)

  3. 3)  Iage

  4. 4)  I live town

  5. 5)  My favorite color

  6. 6)  I don’t-like (color)

  7. 7)  I like (animal)

  8. 8)  I don’t-like (animal)

  1. 9)  (day)

  2. 10)  (day)

  3. 11)  (day)

  4. 12)  Ienjoy(verb)

  5. 13)  My favorite food

  6. 14)  I(profession)

  7. 15)  My (family member)

  8. 16)  She / He age

  9. 17)  She / He lives town

  10. 18)  She / He likes (verb)

  11. 19)  She / He doesn’t-like (verb)

  12. 20)  She / He (feeling)

  13. 21)  She / He (profession)

, I (verb) ,Ieat ,Idrink

Name (first)

The pronouns “she” and “he” are indicated by pointing to an area in front of you, on the side of your dominant hand. This is called Spatial Referencing.

ASLA Level 1 March 2011


Historic Milestones

In the early 1800’s, there were no schools for the deaf in the United States. Europe had established schools in Great Britain, Germany and France.

Dr. Mason Cogswell had a deaf daughter, Alice, and was concerned for her future. He helped to organize a group of parents in New England who were also concerned about educating their deaf children. They eventually enlisted the help of Thomas Gallaudet. Thomas agreed to travel to Europe to observe the deaf schools there, learn their methods of teaching, and come back to open a school for the deaf in America.

Thomas traveled to England. The schools there were run by the Braidwood family and used the oral method of teaching - no signing - only speech. Thomas was dismayed to see the gloomy atmosphere in the school he visited, and students looked unhappy. It didn’t look like a learning environment. He was discouraged and ready to head home.

Walking along the street in London, he saw a flyer advertising a demonstration of French Sign Language that would be put on by representatives of a school for the deaf in Paris. He went and saw the French teachers Jean Massieu and Laurent Clerc, both of them deaf, and the headmaster of the school, AbbeМЃ Sicard, a hearing man, acting as interpreter. He was fascinated and asked if he could visit the school in Paris.

A short time later, Thomas was thrilled to see the French deaf students signing and looking cheerful. The classrooms and walls were filled with evidence of their learning. “This”, he thought, “is the kind of school we need in America”. But Thomas was not a teacher of the deaf and didn’t know any signs. How could he possibly do it? He would need help.

He asked Laurent Clerc to come with him to America. Laurent had many reasons to say no. The school in Paris, from which he had graduated, was his second family and his home. He was a successful teacher there, surrounded by an entire community of people with whom he could

ASLA Level 1 March 2011


communicate easily and freely. Going to America, he would be the only educated deaf person in the country, since there were no schools. He was Catholic and would be going to a Protestant country. This was an important consideration, since his school was run by the church and had given him so much. It would seem like a betrayal. In addition, his teacher and mentor, Jean Massieu, was not well and was increasingly dependent on Laurent. Could he leave him? This would not be an easy decision.

Thomas told him how difficult it was in America without an education and that the situation for deaf people was not good. Clerc was the one who could make such a difference in the lives of so many. Clerc finally agreed to come to America for a year to help the school get established. He would train Thomas and then would come back to his home, France.

Clerc came to America and stayed his whole life, visiting his French homeland a few times. He had found so many reasons to stay in America. In establishing the school, he was doing what had been done in France - establishing a community. He was also doing something else that he didn’t realize at first. While he was using his French Sign Language (LSF), his new students were using the language they had developed, which we might call Old American Sign Language, and the two languages began to merge and form a brand new language - our modern ASL.

For 50 years, every new deaf school that opened in the United States used the ASL that was developed at that first school in Hartford, CT. Deaf people were successful and well-integrated into American society. Unfortunately, this would change later, when oral schools began to open in America in 1867. For the next 100 years, no signing schools would open in America, and those that had previously used ASL were changed into oral schools by their hearing headmasters.

ASLA Level 1 March 2011


Portraits in Print Laurent Clerc

Born in France in 1785 Died in Hartford, CT in 1869

When Laurent was about a year old, he fell from his high chair into the kitchen fireplace. His right cheek was severely burned, and he sustained a high fever. Later, it was discovered that his senses of hearing and smell were damaged. His name sign, an “h” handshape brushed downward on the right cheek, is derived from the noticeable scar there.

At twelve years old, he went to the school for the deaf in Paris, Institut National des Jeune Sourds-Muets. This was the first known public school for the deaf in the world. There he met his first teacher, Jean Massieu, a deaf teacher who became Laurent’s mentor and friend and a second father to him.

Laurent excelled in his studies and went on to become a teacher at the school. In 1816, he met Thomas Gallaudet and eventually, Laurent came with Gallaudet to America to help establish the first permanent school for the deaf, in Hartford, CT.

The school opened in 1817 and was highly successful. Laurent went on to assist other schools for the deaf, and tirelessly worked to better the lives of deaf Americans. He appeared before the U.S. congress in 1820 to lobby for funds to support the new schools and open additional ones.

A number of Clerc’s students went on to teach or become headmasters at other schools. A statue honoring Clerc can be seen on the campus of the American School for the Deaf today. Part of the inscription reads: “Laurent Clerc, apostle to the deaf in America”. Without him, deaf education and American Sign Language would not exist as it does today.

ASLA Level 1 March 2011


Portraits in Print Thomas Gallaudet

Born in Philadelphia, PA in 1787 Died in Hartford, CT in 1851

Young Thomas went to Yale College (now University) and was planning to be a minister. After graduating, he was back at home in Hartford, when he encountered a new neighbor, Alice Cogswell, nine years old. Alice was deaf. After struggling to communicate with her, he was intrigued about how to teach the deaf. Alice’s father, Dr. Mason Cogswell, along with other parents of deaf children from New England, sponsored Thomas to travel to Europe and see the methods used to educate the deaf.

Arriving in London, Thomas got to see a school run by the Braidwood family. He was disappointed. The children looked unhappy. The rooms were stark. The teachers taught using speech - the method we call Oralism - and no signs. As he was pondering what to do, he saw a flyer. Visitors from the school for the deaf in Paris were visiting and were doing an exhibition demonstrating French Sign Language. Thomas decided to attend.

He was impressed and asked if he could visit their school. Soon, they were in Paris. Thomas was delighted to see the bright rooms with learning materials and students who were animated and engaged. They were signing. “This”, he thought, “is what we need in America”. Thomas, however, did not know how to sign. How could he teach? He knew he would need assistance.

He worked to convince Laurent Clerc, a gifted deaf teacher, to come with him to America to provide education for the deaf there. After much deliberation, Clerc agreed to come and help get the school started, and then he would return to his home in France.

Thomas was the headmaster and worked throughout his life to promote deaf education in America. The first college for the deaf in the world opened in Washington, DC in 1864 - Gallaudet College (now University) - and is named to honor him.

ASLA Level 1 March 2011


ASLA Level 1


Some tips about numbers in ASL:

  • п‚·  Numbers 1 - 5, just counting, the palm should face you. For other numbering systems like age and time, the palm should face out.

  • п‚·  6 - a little finger touches the thumb. 7 - the next finger over touches the thumb. 8 - the next finger. 9 - the first finger touches the thumb.

  • п‚·  11 - “flick” the first finger forward with the palm facing you.

  • п‚·  12 - flick the first two fingers forward.

  • п‚·  16 - is the same handshape as 6 with a movement added. Twist the

    wrist. Start with the palm facing you and twist it so the palm ends up facing out. 17 is like 7 but with the twist. 18 is like 8 but with the twist, and 19 is like 9 but with the twist.

  • п‚·  20 - make a “g” handshape and close it twice.

  • п‚·  21 - make an “L” handshape and wiggle the thumb.

  • п‚·  22 - the handshape “2” with two movements. Put the first 2 at the

    center of your body and move it to the outside of your dominant


  • п‚·  23 - “3” handshape. Wiggle the middle finger up and down.

  • п‚·  25 - “5” handshape. Wiggle the middle finger up and down.

  • п‚·  24 and 2629 - look like L4, L6, L7, L8, L9

  • п‚·  30 to 98 - just sign the individual digits. The exceptions are numbers

    that repeat the same digit - 33, 44, 55......99. Those use the same

    movement as the number 22.

  • п‚·  For compound numbers - example: For the year 1982, sign 19-8-2, not

    1-9-8-2. For the year 1916, 19-16, not 1-9-1-6. When signing 1619 as part of a compound number, do not “shake” as you would if signing 1619 by themselves. Do them with a single movement.

  • п‚·  For age, sign “age”, then the number.

  • п‚·  For time, sign “time”, then the number. 10:05 would be signed “time

    10-0-5”. 10:21 would be signed “time 10-21”. 10:30 - “time 10-30”.