Sign-Language-Learning-Apps-for-Beginners

9 Sign Language Learning Apps for Beginners

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Learning sign language can be a great addition to your skill set and help you communicate with differently-abled individuals easily.

Sign language is a great technique for deaf and mute individuals to communicate their thoughts. Although only a few people are aware, sign language isn’t universal, as different people from different countries speak their sign language.

Owing to that, the signs and gestures have been organized linguistically. In its essence, sign language is a combination of the following components:

  • Hand gestures
  • Facial expressions
  • Finger spell
  • Touch
  • Timing, and
  • Body language.

That being said, sign language learning apps in the market today can help people learn sign language easily. They employ several creative methods to teach users gestures and body language crucial to sign language.

Today’s article will explore some of these sign language learning apps and how useful they are.

So let’s get started!

Why Do You Need to Learn Sign Language?

Learn-Sign-Language

The use of sign language is becoming quite common these days. Here are a few reasons why everyone should learn sign language:

To communicate with millions of differently-abled individuals.

It is among the primary reasons to learn sign language. There are over 466 million (that’s nearly 5% of the world’s population) deaf and mute people across the globe. Shockingly, there’s a severe lack of resources that can enable such individuals to communicate with others effectively.

And this number is expected to shoot up in the next two decades, with over 900 million people estimated to be affected by hearing loss.

At a time when differently-abled people are looking to convey their thoughts more effectively, learning sign language can be vital.

It helps to develop an ‘expanded vision.’

Apart from the benefits of bilingualism, sign language also gives people the benefits of bimodal. Using these bimodal skills, you can expand your visual-perceptual knowledge. It further helps in developing the following skills:

  • Mental rotation skills
  • Visual sensitivity
  • Space Awareness

Using sign language can also improve motor skills and communication, besides helping you use hand gestures better.

When a person uses more than one of their senses to perceive and process information, it automatically increases awareness of their surroundings.

Helps children become smart & empathetic

Sign language is also great for communicating with pre-verbal children, helping your baby become smarter.

It significantly improves the child’s vocabulary and mental growth while strengthening the parent-child relationship. That aside, children also become bilingual and better at comprehension.

It’s a beautiful language to learn.

Contrary to what most people think, sign language isn’t one universal language. It is, in fact, a combination of 300+ different languages. In addition, there are several local and regional variants of the same language, many of which are still unknown.

It is one of the biggest reasons people are fascinated with learning sign language.

Now that we’re aware of the reasons to learn sign language online, let us explore some popular variants of sign language.

What Are the Different Types of Sign Languages?

What-Are-the-Different-Types-of-Sign-Languages

As mentioned in the previous section, there are multiple variants of sign language. Almost every country has its localized version of the original.

That said, here are a few variants of sign language:

British Sign Language (BSL), New Zealand, Auslan Sign Language

More than 1,50,000 people in the UK use British Sign Language (BSL). The language developed over the years at Thomas Braidwood’s schools for the deaf in the early 1700s and 1800s.

The language then spread further to Australia and New Zealand. Interestingly, the Australian and New Zealand versions are similar, using the same grammar and vocabulary.

American Sign Language (ASL)

A total of 2,50,000 to 5,00,000 deaf and mute Americans claim to use ASL as their primary language. The language is quite popular and is used across continents.

Canada, Southeast Asia, and West Africa are popular regions using ASL. It is based on a combination of French and other local sign languages.

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There’s also an influence of Martha Vineyard’s Sign Language on this variant, where we use one-handed fingerspelling alphabets.

Chinese Sign Language (CSL/ZGS)

A huge population of deaf Chinese people (usually a total of 20 million people) use the Chinese sign language to communicate. It is, however, not possible to track the impact since the Chinese education system stigmatizes the use of this language.

Indo-Pakistani Sign Language

This type of sign language is native to South Asia and is spoken in countries like India, Pakistan, and some other neighboring countries. It, however, lacks official support and isn’t a part of the school curriculum. However, some NGOs are offering vocational courses in Indo-Pakistani sign language.

There are only 250 certified sign language trainers in India, which makes the demand for sign language learning apps even more prevalent.

Now that you’re aware of the different types of sign languages globally, here are some recommendations of popular sign language apps and websites to check out.

Sign Language ASL Pocket Sign

ASL-Sign-Langauge-Pocket-Sign

This popular Sign Language app by MobiReactor helps in learning the American variant of sign language using interactive lessons using a community element to aid your growth. With over 0.5 million downloads, it is filled with various words to learn. There are up to 80 lessons, with free lessons available daily.

Pros:

  • People can use interactive lessons to increase their knowledge of sign language.
  • A huge database of words, sentences, and videos around sign language.
  • There are various exercises to help the user understand concepts efficiently.

Cons:

  • Users won’t find information about sentence structure on this app.
  • You cannot shuffle the flashcards to study different categories on the app.
  • Users cannot talk to or learn from other users on the application.

If you are willing to dedicate a minimum of 2-3 minutes daily, then you can easily get much value out of this application. Moreover, the developers have also provided a search bar that’ll help find specific words.

Sign Language: ASL Kids

ASL-Kids

With 3.4 stars on the Google Play Store, this Sign Language ASL Kids learning app offers a comprehensive dictionary for children, beginners, and babies. You can easily watch videos of other children using sign language to communicate, generally in the age 1 to 12 bracket.

Pros:

  • The app has a nice layout alongside a helpful quiz section.
  • It contains a database of 108 signs that you can teach children.
  • Adults can also use the application to learn about sign language.

Cons:

  • Images and text aren’t aligned, making it difficult for users to read properly.
  • The app hasn’t been updated in a long time, so much of the content is outdated.
  • Users will need to pay for the extra words.

You can also learn common signs from the dictionary, apart from knowing about fingerspelling and baby sign language. There’s also a sound and image button that can stimulate speech and hearing.

Ace ASL: Learn Fingerspelling

Ace-ASL

With 4.5 stars on the Google Play store, the Ace ASL: Learn Fingerspelling sign language learning app is a user favorite. Apart from learning fingerspelling in detail, you can use sign recognition technology to practice the same.

In addition, you can watch a native signer use fingerspell at varying speeds to guess the words and challenge themselves.

Pros:

  • Various interactive challenges and practice tests for knowledge.
  • Learners can also take quizzes to increase their knowledge.

Cons:

  • The flashcards for fingerspelling aren’t very intuitive.
  • The app sometimes doesn’t recognize the user while making the sign into the camera. Users can only access the alphabet glossary and must pay for more features.

With content spread across 50 levels of activities, learners can easily learn how to fingerspell alphabets and numbers in a fun and interactive manner. The app is AI-based and is a great tool to increase their expressive and receptive skills on the phone camera.

ASL American Language

ASL American Sign Language app is ideal for people who want to learn sign language in a fun, interactive way. You can learn about using numbers, alphabets, and other phrases through interactive video lessons, pictograms, and an ASL dictionary. 

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ASL

Pros:

  • Helpful for learning the basics of sign language. 
  • Flashcards are provided as visual aids for learners.
  • It also offers a community-based learning component.

Cons:

  • The app layout is non-intuitive.
  • There are some issues with the video playback and quality.
  • The content is primary, which doesn’t make it worth upgrading to a premium plan.

You can also read stories related to differently-abled individuals. 

Sign Language for Beginners

Specially curated for beginners, this Sign Language for Beginners app is ideal for learning both British and American sign languages.

sign-language-for-beginners

The app was updated two years ago and had a huge treasure trove of gestures for alphabets and numbers. What’s more, you will also get to learn a few everyday words as well.

Pros:

  • The app has a huge database of alphabets, numbers, and gestures.
  • Users will also learn about different phrases and greetings in sign language.

Cons:

  • No clarity on which word is a part of BSL or ASL.
  • The app is not intuitive in terms of usage.

The app is decent and offers a comprehensive guide for everyday use. In addition, you can also save the flashcards offline for later reference.

ASL Sign Language Pocket Sign

ASL-sign-language-pocket-sign

The ASL Sign Language Pocket Sign app offers a huge library of video lessons to help you learn sign language online. You can use these lessons and interactive question banks to brush up on your knowledge, apart from learning how to translate sign language.

Pros:

  • Hundreds of interactive, video-based lessons
  • A huge question bank for practice.
  • Users can refer to the sign language dictionary to brush up on their knowledge.

Cons:

  • The flashcards don’t work well enough
  • Users can only do one lesson per day. For more than one lesson, a paid plan is required.
  • Some lessons have errors, as pointed out by several users.

In addition, you can also use flashcards & action items to make learning more fun and inquisitive. You can also learn baby sign language and basic ASL phrases.

Lingvano: Sign Language – BSL

Lingvano-Sign-Language-BSL

Lingvano sign language-BSL learning app offers users a fun and interactive way to learn sign language. You can not only learn new words and gestures but will also get to understand how to use them in everyday life.

Pros:

  • The app has been designed well and is easy to use.
  • Users can apply whatever they’ve learned to become more proficient. Users will also get guided interactive lessons and learning paths.

Cons:

  • The learning streak may drop points if the user skips a day or misses out on the lesson.
  • There are some issues with the loading and playback of videos.
  • The learner may need to start over if their progress isn’t saved.

And guess what the best part is? You don’t need to spend more than 5 to 10 minutes per day on these lessons. You can watch videos to practice realistic dialogs and reward yourself with streaks.

The ASL App

the-ASL-App

The ASL app is among the best sign language learning resources online. Made exclusively by members of the deaf community, it helps you learn sign language in a fun, conversational manner. In addition, you can also learn about the different phrases and gestures used in the language.

You can drag their fingers on the video to control playback speed, apart from using a search bar for identifying specific words & phrases. In addition, you can also use some personalized tips to accelerate your learning.

Pros:

  • The application also has a social sharing element that keeps users motivated to learn more.
  • Users can control playback speed while watching videos.

Cons:

  • The app is not well-organized.
  • Users might have to pay to access advanced features and learning bundles.

The application makes sign language learning social, allowing you to share your learning on Facebook and Twitter.

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Lingvano: Sign Language – ASL

lingvano-apple-store

The Lingvano app is focused on teaching American Sign Language (ASL). With its bite-sized, interactive lessons and ASL dictionary, the application is ideal for learning sign language online and gaining confidence for using it in real-life scenarios.

In under 10 minutes daily, you will understand the basics of these gestures and words using the vocabulary trainer to memorize them.

Pros:

  • The app is interactive and has a nice layout, making learning easy and fun.
  • The dialog features help users understand how sign language is used in day-to-day conversations. Users can also learn how to structure sentences & phrases in sign language.

Cons:

  • Users need to access the paid plans to use the advanced features.
  • The subscription fee is a little expensive.
  • Some of the buttons on the app won’t work correctly.

Interestingly, all the trainers on this app are deaf and mute, so you will learn directly from the source.

Tips and Tricks to Learn Sign Language as a Beginner

Tips-and-Tricks-to-Learn-Sign-Language-as-a-Beginner

Once you’ve downloaded these sign language apps, it becomes quite easy to learn them. That being said, diversifying the sources is always a good idea to accelerate learning.

Here are a few helpful tips to learn sign language online as a beginner:

  • Start with the basics; begin by learning the different types of sign languages and then focusing on the alphabet. Once fluent in the alphabet, you can shift to learning fingerspelling techniques.
  • Learning from someone who’s already proficient with sign language is always a good idea. Several sign language learning apps let you watch videos of native sign language speakers or even pair you with them for a comprehensive learning experience.
  • Practice is the key to getting acquainted with sign language. You can watch videos, read books, and play games that teach gestures, but real knowledge will only come with rigorous practice. You can also talk to other people and learn how they use these gestures well.
  • It would be a good idea to keep note of important signs; you can either draw a picture of the gesture or write out instructions for later. You can flip through these notes later whenever you feel stuck.

Conclusion

Sign language apps are an excellent resource that can help you get started. Once you’ve got the hang of things, you can refer to advanced training resources to help improve sign language skills.

In this article, we discussed the current scenario regarding the utility of learning sign language and how it can bring about positive change in the lives of millions of people.

We also discussed some prominent apps that can help you improve your sign language knowledge. Most of these apps offer video-based lessons and exercises crucial to your development. We hope that these app recommendations are helpful for our readers.
You can also explore some good resources to learn English sign language.



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