Cara Belajar Bahasa Isyarat
Edited by Jon Acuña-Miller, Ben Rubenstein, KnowItSome, Sondra C and 52 others
American Sign Language is one of the most beautiful yet misunderstood languages in the world. Approach learning it with the same respect and expectations you would if you were learning any foreign spoken language. ASL is used in the United States and Canada. Other sign languages are used across the world, including Malaysia, Germany, Austria, Norway, and Finland. We'll give you some tips on learning this wonderful form of communication.
Part 1 of 3: Things to Know
1Know where to hold your hands. Generally, the palm of your hand is held facing the person you are talking to. Bend your elbow and hold you hand around chest-level. Signs are performed outward so that they are easier to read.
- The importance of pointing outwards is not as important as comfort. Arthritis and tendinitis will prevent some from being able to point signs away. If it hurts, adjust your position.
- Be aware that ASL is not a language only of the hands and fingers. It involves the whole body, including the upper torso, arms, and head. The face is extremely important. If you've ever wondered why deaf people are so animated, it is because they use facial expressions the way hearing people use tone of voice and inflection to communicate additional meaning in conversation. For example, elevated eyebrows when signing means one is asking a question.
2Take your time. As you are learning, move in a slow, deliberate fashion. This will help you master the motions as well as make it easier for others to understand you.
3Learn to fingerspell the ASL alphabet. Fingerspelling, while not used in common conversations in ASL, is essential for spelling out words you don't know the sign for. Check out this guide for details on how to fingerspell each letter of the alphabet.
4Practice the sign for "hello." This sign is universally used to greet someone. It is very similar to a wave.
- Bring your right hand up to your forehead, with your palm facing out.
- Move your palm away from your body in a wave motion.
5Practice the sign for "goodbye." The way you say goodbye in ASL is dependent on the situation and formality required.
- More casual ways to say goodbye include a simple wave of the hand, a nod, or a thumb-up.
- You can also sign "see you later" by pointing to your eye with your middle finger and then to the other person with your index finger.
6Learn the sign for "thank you." This very important sign will be especially useful for thanking your ASL practice partners.
- Open your right hand into a flat palm, holding your fingers together with your thumb sticking out.
- With your palm facing towards you and your hand facing straight up, start the motion with the tips of your fingers touching your chin.
- Move your hand from your chin straight forward and down in an arc.
- Nod as you move your hand.
7Know how to ask "how are you?" This is a good casual conversation starter that is easy to learn. It is broken down into two signs: "how" and "you" with the question implied.
- Hold both hands at about chest level in a loose thumbs-up position with both thumbs pointed in towards your chest.
- Rotate both hands outwards while keeping them in the same space in front of your chest and maintaining your hand shape.
- Point towards to the other person with your right hand held at your upper chest.
8Gradually add more vocabulary and phrases to your knowledge base. Knowing the alphabet is a good first step, but most signing is done with phrases. Slowly build your vocabulary, taking the time to master each phrase and word as you go. Consistently adding and practicing new vocabulary is the only way to become fluent, just as it is with learning any new language.
- Learn how to sign numbers. Knowing how to count and number things is a very useful skill to have in any language.
- Study how to refer to locations. This will be useful as you go to new places and sign with new people.
- Being able to express time, and the days of the week, will be very helpful when making plans with someone you sign with.
Part 2 of 3: Ways to Learn
1Invest in a good sign language dictionary. Dictionaries are critical tools for learning any language, and ASL is no exception. A good dictionary will allow you to look up signs you don't understand, as well as give you something to study.
- Look for a dictionary with easy-to-understand illustrations and descriptions.
2Take a class. A classroom setting will give you multiple people to practice signing with, as well as feedback on your performance.
- Many colleges will allow you to take a class without enrolling. Check with your local school to see what programs they might offer.
- Community programs such as local libraries and recreational centers will often offer ASL classes for those that are interested.
3Buy a few study guides. While a dictionary will show you how to sign every word or phrase, a study guide will get you signing in a more practical fashion. A study guide will provide more instruction than a dictionary, and will help you learn basic conversations as well as sentence structure.
4Look for resources online. The internet can provide a wealth of information about signing, how to sign, Deaf culture, and more.
- There are many sites that contain video tutorials posted by professional ASL instructors. The ASLU is a great resource for new learners. Each entry has a video by professional instructors. Handspeak is another good video resource and online dictionary.
- YouTube is host to a variety of self-published videos on signing. Just remember that with anything online, anyone can make something regardless of whether or not they actually know what they are doing. Be wary of misinformation and improper techniques.
5Download an app. With the advent of smartphones, carrying a dictionary and study guide around with you has never been easier. Both the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store have multiple options to choose from, ranging from free to a few dollars.
- Apps can be great for quick references, and some include video along with instructions.
- There are study guides and dictionaries, so try out a couple until you find ones that work for you.
- Look for apps that have a high number of 4 & 5 star reviews. Browse through some user reviews to see how helpful the app has been for other people.
Part 3 of 3: Practical Experience
1Familiarize yourself with Deaf culture. In order to become fluent in ASL, you will have to be invested in Deaf culture. Since deafness is rarely passed from parent to child, Deaf culture is one of the few cultures where a child learns the cultural traits from the parents. Instead the culture evolves from deaf schools and community gatherings. Sign language is but one small aspect of Deaf culture.
- Deafness is not viewed as a disability that needs fixing. The terms "mute" and "dumb" are culturally insensitive, and should never be used.
- In general, individual Deaf communities are tight-knit and initially hard to break into. But persistence and a humble attitude will help you succeed in making deaf friends. Once they know you are sincere and eager to learn about them and their language, many deaf people will begin to accept you and "show you the ropes" of their unique culture.
- The Deaf culture is built on strong literary traditions, especially in poetry.
2Practice with a partner. You cannot learn ASL simply from reading a dictionary or watching some videos. Finding a partner to practice ASL with on a regular basis will be crucial for improving your readability, speed, and comprehension.
- Post a bulletin at your school asking for an ASL partner.
- Get a friend or family member to learn ASL with you so you both have someone to practice with in everyday situations.
3Communicate with a deaf person. The goal of learning ASL is being able to communicate fluently with someone who is deaf. Once you start feeling comfortable with basic sayings, go out of your way to interact with someone from the Deaf community.
- Find out what Deaf community events are happening in your area, such as art shows, movie screenings, or gatherings.
- Be polite and ask if someone would like to engage in a basic conversation with you.
- No two languages match up word-for-word. ASL and English are no different. There are some words in English that do not have a single sign equivalent; you must use multiple signs to "explain" the English word. Likewise, there are some signs that take more than just one spoken word to "explain."
- Hearing people acquire English with both eyes and ears from a very early age. Remember that many of your deaf friends never had the auditory cues hearing people take for granted. Never assume that because your deaf friend's written English is not grammatically perfect that he/she is any less intelligent than you are. Remember that you seem just as awkward in ASL to him/her.
- If you are learning sign, please do not assume that all deaf people are eager to stop what they are doing at any time to teach you about their language or to help you hone your skills at that very moment. If you want to meet a specific deaf person, do so politely: say hello if the situation allows, but do not force yourself into private or solitary circumstances.
- There are many sign systems such as Sign Supported Speech (SSS), Seeing Essential English (SEE), and Signing Exact English (SEE2). Remember that they are sign SYSTEMS, not languages. They were created by people outside of the user's culture; created by hearing people for deaf people. Thus are not a natural language for complete and efficient communication.
- Interpreters for the deaf are state and nationally certified professionals who have gone through years of training to be highly skilled signers. Most states have stringent rules about who can and cannot interpret in legal, medical, educational, social, and psychological settings. Just because you have memorized the sign dictionary does not qualify you to stop at a roadside car accident, for example, when you see a deaf person trying to communicate with the police. Through their training, most law enforcement officers know that when a deaf person is involved in an incident, they must call a professionally certified interpreter.
- Deaf people enjoy privacy as much as hearing people do. If you are learning sign, please do not stare at deaf families or groups in restaurants or in other public places. Even if you are looking on with fascination at their use of their language, it is still unnerving for them to be stared at.
- Remember that no dictionary in any language can be exhaustive. For example, one of the links below shows you only one sign gloss for the English word "abbreviate", the sign for temporal shortness. However, another commonly used sign is the "condense" sign (2 C handshapes chest level closing to fists). Remember there can be multiple signs corresponding to a single English word and vice versa.
- Remember never to make up signs. ASL is a universally recognized language and not a mime-game. If you can't think of a sign for a concept, finger-spell the word and ask a deaf friend or ASL interpreter about how to sign it. Signs are created by the deaf community; it is strange for a hearing person to create a sign.