7 Insanely Simple Steps to Not Forget ASL

Read on to use the simple steps to not forget ASL. 

You've worked so stinking hard to learn sign language. You really don't want all that hard work to be for nothing.

I don't want that for you either.

You're working so hard to learn ASL and really don't want to do all that hard work for nothing. Here are 7 steps to take to not forget ASL. These steps are super helpful!

When you're learning ASL you can't just do it when you feel like it.

Just like you don't go crazy and binge-exercise when you feel like it and then take a break for a week, a month, a year, or more.

You wouldn't (at least I hope not) get mad and shout to the world, "HEY! I'm working out, why am I not totally ripped with a 6-pack and muscles the size of cantaloupes?"

And I hope you wouldn't do the same with ASL. You cannot just sit down and watch all the videos, lessons, or look at signs in a dictionary once and call it a day.

Now, don't freak out, I'm not talking about having to sit down and dedicate your entire life to learning sign language.

While I love the language dearly, there's more to life than just practicing ASL. Not much more, but there's more.

Now that I've gotten you all worked up let me give you the 7 simple steps to NOT FORGET ASL that I've got for ya!

1. Re-watch and review

You're working so hard to learn ASL and really don't want to do all that hard work for nothing. Here are 7 steps to take to not forget ASL. These steps are super helpful!

This may be a no-kidding-rolling-my-eyes moment.

Just promise to keep reading anyway.

Re-watch the videos that give you trouble.

For instance, I know several of y'all struggle with ASL numbers. Head back on over to the videos I have teaching ASL numbers.

Watch the review and test videos to see what you've nailed and where you get tripped up. Then go back over those sticky ones bit by bit. Little by little

Re-watch the videos that you nailed. 

News flash: you can forget those signs, too.

Put a list of the signs from each lesson someplace where you can see it and sign them every now and again during the day.

Review #1, Review #2, Test

2. Mirror or video

Ugh... another eye-roll-you've-told-me-this-a-bajillion-times moment.

Well, if I'm repeating myself, maybe there's a reason. I don't intend to sound rude. I intend to impress upon you my emphatic-ness.

Use a mirror to practice signs.

Why do I tell you to do this? I can't tell you how many times I've shown someone a sign and they try to do it but their hands and fingers are all over the place. They think they're doing it right, but they're just a bit off, or even waaaay off.

For instance:

 I'm sorry -- I just couldn't help myself -- two gifs for one point may be overkill, but the more I watched them the more I laughed. Maybe because it's 2AM. 

I have been signing for a bajillion years; I still practice in front of a mirror.

True story.

Watch the video, pause, then check how your sign looks in the mirror. Adjust as necessary.

A camera is also a fantastic tool to video yourself signing for 3 reasons.

#1 You can watch yourself sign, catch something that may be off (just like with the mirror)

#2 Watch your video, a few days, weeks, or even longer, after making it and use it as receptive practice. You may know what you signed, but it will help give you a boost to recognize the signs.

#3 Send it to someone else who is learning/practicing with you for double practice time.

When you've mastered a whole lesson, shoot a video of yourself doing some practice sentences and the signs you've just learned.

Watch it and see how you rate.

3. Fingerspelling practice

I know there's more to signing than fingerspelling.

There is, but seriously, fingerspelling is a vital tool to have and use.

It's especially useful as a new signer. If you don't know the sign you can just ask. How do you ask a person who is Deaf? You fingerspell!


I have 2 fingerspelling practice videos for you from the ASL in 31 series. LessonPractice #1, Practice #2.

We have Fingerspell Friday over in the ASL practice group. It's great receptive practice and if you make your own list, signing practice.

How else is fingerspelling used in ASL? In every way.

In every conversation you have in ASL you WILL fingerspell. I can promise you that.

Someone will fingerspell TO you. You have got to practice understanding when someone is fingerspelling to you.

Confession: this is a hard skill to master, but totally doable.

4. Make your own

Understanding the grammar in ASL can be tricky as well. To be an ASL signer and not a SEE or PSE signer, it's important to grasp correct ASL grammar structure.

Here's a reference chart for your use:

You're working so hard to learn ASL and really don't want to do all that hard work for nothing. Here are 7 steps to take to not forget ASL. These steps are super helpful!

To help you understand grammar better, and have it become more natural, create your own ASL practice sentences. 

Even if you don't know the signs, put the words in the correct order.

If you don't know a sign for a sentence you want to write then just fingerspell the word. Don't let not knowing a sign keep you from crafting an awesome sentence.

Go to Day 24 to see correct ASL sentence structure. Whip out your list of signs learned and craft a sentence.

Related:ASL Grammar Without the Frustration Part 1

5. Ask questions

Asking questions is a good thing. Don't know a sign, or how to sign a concept, or if you're doing something right/wrong, or, or, or .... ???


I am here for you.

You can ask me any question you may have.

You can ask me on a blog post, you can ask me on YouTube, you can ask me via my contact page, you can ask me on Facebook, Twitter, or you can send me the question via carrier pigeon.

If you haven't caught on: you can ask me!!!!

6. Be consistent

I touched on this at the very beginning. But if you want to NOT forget ASL you have to keep at it. Little by little, day by day.

You don't need to binge inhale videos, lessons, and signs.

In fact, I discourage it.

Instead, work at a handful of signs, concepts, OR sentences each day. Practice your fingerspelling. Work at your facial expressions. Practice ASL grammar.

Whatever you choose to do, just do it consistently.

7. Sign with others

Have a friend learn with you. Get your family to join you.

Learning ASL together as a family is a fantastic way to foster unity and connection.

If you all start out on the same level there's no worry that someone is going to feel inferior or behind. There is no behind if you work on the same thing each time together.

My children love to learn together and sign with each other.

When I was in high school my two best friends were learning along with me and it really made our friendship stronger.

Find someone to learn with you and practice together. You'll advance much faster.

Tweet: I'm learning sign language! Wanna learn with me?

Join the ASL practice group!

The group has challenges and a place for you to connect with other signers. Plus, you get lots of feedback and practice time in. Not just signing, but receptive practice.

Why do I do that? Because I love you more than anyone else on the world wide web. Ya dig?

Click to join the practice group! 

Get involved in the Deaf Community. Go to Deaf events and get to signing! That's why you're learning ASL, right?

Promise, you'll learn even more once you're chatting with the folks within the Deaf community.

You're all set...

You, my friend, are on your way to knowing and understanding ASL once you do these 7 steps.

Do not forget ASL, do not forget all those things you are working so hard on. Make it a part of your regular day, but don't let it take over your life.

And let go of any guilt you may have when you think you're not doing "enough."

Your turn

Which of the 7 steps is hardest for you to do? Easiest? Do you have any other suggestions for steps I may have missed?