Immersion from the Beginning: The #1 Tip for Successful ASL 101 Teaching

Every semester, the first week of classes always provides me a scenic view of unblinking red eyes staring at me.

Those red-eyed students are afraid to miss anything, so their eyes are glued on me, hawking down every sign I make. I have learned through experience that it is always better to not use my voice when I teach ASL. And though the red-eyes might tell me otherwise, I know that after a few weeks, those eyes will start adjusting and will know when to look and when to take a break.

That is how it is every time we start working out a new muscle— it is always hard at first but with time, it grows and becomes toned. (Related article: What Keeps ASL Students Coming Back)

There are many teachers who might feel that they need to use English to teach ASL. I encourage you to stop feeling that English is a superior to ASL. Yes, it is easier to speak in your native tongue, but it will not help your students with the language they are trying to learn.

It must be by immersion, and by using only that language.

Every time I am flummoxed as an ASL teacher, and I am tempted to write the English word down, I find a picture of what I’m signing on Google. And I’ve noticed that this helps them remember the signs better.

For you ASL teachers out there, please try to only use ASL while teaching ASL. It is the best way to learn a new language.

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