Q: “Are there any home correspondence courses in Basic Sign?”

A: Sign language is best learned by personal interaction. The best way is by spending time with native signers in an informal social environment. Second best: taking a class taught by a skilled teacher who’s a native signer. Third best: using a multimedia ASL or Basic Sign course at home. These can often be borrowed from the public library. Least effective way: Learning sign language "cold" by looking at illustrations in a book. Since sign language is kinetic, you need to see how it moves. You can use a book as a backup or memory aid . . . but people who try to learn to sign solely from studying pictures often produce garbled signs.

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