Updated: Oct 12, 2022
Learning to fingerspell is FUN!
After mastering the ASL Alphabet and spelling your name, begin practice with short words. Practice with a friend to practice with on-line sites is extremely helpful. Most important is face-to-face learning from a qualified Deaf person. It's their native language.
MAKE IT FUN!
ASL is a manual alphabet with 26 signs for each English alphabet letter. Begin learning them with a friend. This will give you practice producing and reading fingerspelled words. Your brain loves to learn and will develop new pathways and areas often never accessed! Learning from an experienced signer, taking a face-to-face class is best. Some great resources for fingerspelling practice are listed here for you!
Bill Vicars of Lifeprint.com has wonderful resources for learning ASL fingerspelling.
Here is a beautiful visual alphabet chart in motion!
LifePrint has also produced a wonderful tool to help you practice recognizing words fingerspelled to you! Start with short words. This is a great tool giving you options of how many letters in a word. Choose from four-speed options, slow to Deaf. You can replay a word until you get it or move on to another. Here are more resources to learn more about American Sign Language, ASL, deaf culture, signing, and fingerspelling.
Master ASL Storytellers Michelle Osterhout and Diana Campbell
Whether you are a beginner student, intermediate or advanced Signer, watch and learn from these experts. Practice receiving fingerspelled words with Michelle and Diana in their My Monster Truck Goes Everywhere with Me!
Names are always fingerspelled. Watch Michelle and Diana fingerspell their names, and then they show you their “name sign.” Using a “name sign” is way easier than fingerspelling a friend’s name or your name every time. We will have you share more about “name signs” in another blog.
Titles are always first fingerspelled, and then signs can be used for each word in a title. Watch closely as they first fingerspell each word in the title. Then sign the title with the signs associated with each fingerspelled word. Here they identify an object by fingerspelling of M-O-N-S-T-E-R, showing the sign for MONSTER and T-R-U-C-K. A classifier refers to the object in the conversation or narration of a story.
There is a lot of fingerspelling at the beginning of the book, after introducing themselves and fingerspelling. Watch Michelle’s hand movements as she fingerspells double letters. Isaac, the double “aa,” her hand slides slightly to her right. That’s a double letter slide movement.
Diana uses a different method. "Diana uses a different method. Signing double "ee" in Kathleen, she signs the first “e” then making a tiny little movement backward; she signs the second "e."
When fingerspelling, avoid bouncing your hand up and down. Hold it steady. Hold your arm and hand in a comfortable position. This is your signer’s space. Download the website's printable materials for more information on the signer’s space. Did you see the slight pause between the first and last names? Good job!
Michelle fingerspells without mouthing or sounding out the word being spelled. Diana sounds out the word as she fingerspells. If you ever want to become fluent in fingerspelling, you must learn to sound out the word as you fingerspell, not spell it out letter by letter.
WOW! That is a lot of information and many key points to know about fingerspelling. I love ASL because it is visual, so rather than trying to explain each movement and all the rules here:
· Watch and copy the signers in our Video-Books
· Use the resources we provided
· Join a face-to-face class
· If you have an opportunity, learn from a Deaf signer
We provide you trusted sites knowing they will teach you correctly ASL, not made up, home signs, or sloppy signing. Learn from the start to do it right, and soon you will be a fluent finger speller and on your way to ASL fluency. As you watch each video, look for Michelle and Diana's fingerspell on other pages!
Fingerspelling can always be used if you do not know the sign.
Places are always fingerspelled:
D-E-T-R-O-I-T T-I-G-E-R S-T-A-D-I-U-M - DETROIT TIGER STADIUM.
Titles of books, movies, TV shows and magazines are fingerspelled: