6 of the best sign language apps for ASL (2023)

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Sign language apps are learning tools that use images, videos, games, dictionaries, and interactive lessons to help people learn sign language on their smartphone or tablet.

6 of the best sign language apps for ASL (1)Share on Pinterest

Sign language is a form of communication that uses hand and arm movements, facial expressions, and body gestures.

In the United States, American Sign Language (ASL) is the third most studied language after Spanish and French.

This article discusses how sign language apps work and whether they are effective learning tools. It also looks at some of the best ASL apps available and some alternative ways to learn the language.

Sign language apps provide common signs, including those for letters, numbers, and everyday words and phrases. The app will usually show images of the signs, as well as video clips that people can follow to practice the movement.

Although most apps act as dictionaries that people can use to browse for words and phrases, some are interactive and offer games and quizzes to help people associate signs with their meanings more quickly.

It is important to note that these apps rarely account for regional variations of ASL and are not a replacement for a live ASL interpreter.

(Video) 25 ASL Signs You Need to Know | ASL Basics | American Sign Language for Beginners

Sign language apps can help people learn various signs in a matter of days, as most of them contain signs for basic words and phrases. However, some may lack content for more advanced signers.

The National Association of the Deaf describes sign language as a visual language, with the receiver interpreting the signer’s body movement and facial expressions.

Although pictures and images may be sufficient for basic signs, such as letters and numbers, some signs contain gestural components that are crucial for their meaning. Due to this, apps with short video clips may be more effective than those that only provide pictures.

In a 2019 study, researchers found that teaching children mathematical concepts using sign language through an app was more effective than the traditional means of using flashcards and boards.

Research has also shown software applications to be more motivating and engaging for users — including deaf or hard-of-hearing young adults, and parents and caregivers of deaf children — than books or websites.

Another study showed that most people who want to study sign language prefer learning through online formats rather than traditional face-to-face setups.

Many apps are available to help people learn ASL. Below, we look at six of the best options.

(Video) BEST ASL DICTIONARIES to use when learning sign language | for KIDS and ADULTS

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these apps. All information is purely research-based.

ASL American Sign Language

ASL American Sign Language helps people learn alphabet and number signs alongside commonly used phrases. It also provides information on the history of ASL.

This app has tutorials on finger spelling and basic words. Picture matching and memory games are also available.

There are several videos of a person signing familiar nursery rhymes and songs, making the app useful for learning ASL with young children.

The app is available on iPhone and Android for free, with in-app purchases available.

Lingvano

Lingvano comes with several features to help people learn and memorize ASL. It has a variety of dialog clips showing people signing with corresponding subtitles in English.

An ASL dictionary and vocabulary trainers are available through the app.

The app also has a sign mirror option that allows users to copy a person doing a sign while projecting their image for feedback. All sign language teachers for Lingvano are deaf.

Lingvano is available on iPhone and Android for free, with subscriptions available.

ASL Dictionary

ASL Dictionary is a comprehensive resource that includes more than 5,200 ASL videos. People can play the videos in slow motion, loop them, and add them to a favorites list.

The app allows a person to browse for words, including idioms and words with multiple meanings, and to learn different signs for a particular word or phrase.

This app works without internet connection and has no audio.

The app is available on iPhone and Android for $4.99, with no additional in-app purchases or adverts.

(Video) Easy Hand Sign Detection | American Sign Language ASL | Computer Vision

Pocket Sign

Pocket Sign gives a person free daily lessons, introducing common signs by categories. Daily lessons come with tips and questions.

The app puts recently introduced words together in a video and asks the person to read them. A person can refresh their memory using the app’s sign video dictionary and study feature.

This app also has lessons on baby sign language.

Pocket Sign is available on iPhone and Android for free, with in-app purchases available.

ASL Translator

ASL Translator provides a “text-to-sign” translator. Users can enter up to 50 words at a time into the text box to generate a seamless sign language video. However, the output is in English word order, so it may not appear exactly how a person would usually sign it.

The app’s ability to recognize more than 30,000 words and 1,400 phrases and idioms may allow users to translate documents, emails, and even books into ASL. Numbers, dates, and names are translatable. Users can also copy and paste text into the app for translation.

People can also slow, fast forward, rewind, or loop videos, which use finger spelling for any words that are not available on the database.

A person will need Wi-Fi connection to use the app, which has no audio.

ASL Translator is available on iPhone and Android for $4.99.

American Sign Language Finger Spelling Game

American Sign Language Finger Spelling is suitable for children and adult beginners who wish to learn the alphabet, number signs, and basic words.

It comes with more than 140 practice cards and in excess of 80 finger spelling and sign language activities and games.

American Sign Language Finger Spelling Game is available on Android for free.

Apps may not be an effective way for everyone to learn a language. Some people may prefer to learn sign language through other options, such as websites, online courses, or group classes.

Some alternative options to ASL apps include:

  • StartASL.com: This site gives people access to three complete courses for three ASL levels. It also offers paid courses for advanced ASL.
  • Gallaudet University ASL Connect: People can access free ASL videos in several categories alongside interactive lessons on this site. They can also pay for online ASL classes.
  • Handspeak: Handspeak is a free online dictionary resource containing a range of sign video clips. It also has lessons, tutorials, and tips for ASL learners and a child’s wordbook that features children signing.

Many local ASL groups are available throughout the U.S., often in association with local deaf community organizations. People can search for local classes to learn ASL in person or connect with other people who use ASL.

(Video) Free Sign Language online courses, websites and apps to learn to sign on your own

Sign language apps are a convenient option for learning sign language. A range of apps is available with different features, such as translation capabilities, dictionaries, and lessons.

A person should check the app’s features to see whether it meets their learning needs. For example, they should consider whether the app is suitable for teaching children, if relevant.

It is also advisable to check whether internet connection is necessary to use the app and whether a person will need to make in-app purchases to access useful content.

Researching customer reviews for different apps can help people choose the best app for their learning style and needs.

FAQs

Do any language apps teach ASL? ›

Lingvano is an interactive way to learn ASL. The activities are fun and the lessons help you learn how to connect signs into sentences to have a conversation. Lingvano makes learning sign language into a game. The lesson style is very similar to Duolingo.

Is there an app like Duolingo for ASL? ›

SignSchool– If you are looking to learn sign language, or simply want to strengthen your vocabulary, for free, then you should give SignSchool a try. You can use SignSchool on the go if you have an Android or Apple device, or you can use it on a computer-the choice is yours.

What is the best free way to learn ASL? ›

One of the easiest ways to learn sign language is through YouTube tutorials. The video hosting site has dozens of teachers who give free lessons on how to sign the alphabet, common phrases, numbers, and more.

How many hours does it take to become fluent in ASL? ›

If so, you might be surprised to learn that learning the basics of ASL can take just 60 to 90-hours. By comparison, learning a new spoken language like French can take anywhere from three to six months.

How many years does it take to become fluent in ASL? ›

Overall, it can take several years of regular study and practice to become fluent in sign language. It may take from three months to three years to learn sign language. Moreover, it's all about your learning goal setting, and it all depends on your end goal.

What app is better than duolingo? ›

We have compiled a list of solutions that reviewers voted as the best overall alternatives and competitors to Duolingo, including Rosetta Stone, Lingvist, Busuu, and Mango Languages.

What is the easiest way to learn ASL? ›

  1. Take a sign language class. ...
  2. Learn online by watching videos. ...
  3. Join a sign language group, deaf club or visit a deaf café ...
  4. Take an online course. ...
  5. Hire a private, qualified sign language tutor. ...
  6. Watch and mimic interpreters. ...
  7. Ask your Deaf friends and family teach you. ...
  8. Use an App.
1 Jun 2020

Is Rosetta better than duolingo? ›

Yes. After thoroughly testing out and reviewing each language learning app, we found Rosetta Stone to be a superior program to Duolingo. While we like Duolingo's gamification of learning, Rosetta Stone is simply more comprehensive and effective.

Is ASL the hardest language to learn? ›

Sign language is one of the easiest languages to learn. So many of the signs are commonplace gestures. Children pick up on the signs quickly and are eager to use them.

What is the best website to learn ASL? ›

The 7 Best Online Sign Language Classes of 2022
  • Best Overall: Gallaudet University.
  • Best Budget: American Sign Language University.
  • Best for Beginners: ASL Meredith.
  • Best for Families: Sign It! ASL.
  • Best for School Credit: Start ASL.
  • Best for One-on-One Lessons: SignOn Connect.
  • Best for Vocabulary: ASLDeafined.
13 Sept 2022

Is it harder to learn ASL or Spanish? ›

If your first language is English, you might still find Spanish easier to learn than ASL, since there are some cognates in common. If you're an auditory learner, you'll probably find it easier to learn Spanish than ASL, which is spoken in the visual modality.

Is ASL harder than spoken language? ›

Signed languages are fully capable of the same complexity as spoken languages. They are different based on country — British Sign Language and American Sign Language are very different, for example, even though a deaf American traveling in England would have no trouble reading English.

What language is ASL closest to? ›

ASL is most closely related to French Sign Language (LSF). It has been proposed that ASL is a creole language of LSF, although ASL shows features atypical of creole languages, such as agglutinative morphology.

Is ASL faster than speaking? ›

She compared the speed at which stories were signed and spoken. On average, the children communicated at the rate of 4.7 words and 2.3 signs per second. Signing and speaking the same story took almost exactly the same time. However, only 122 signs were used compared to 210 words, less than 60% as many.

How many ASL signs are there? ›

How many ASL signs are there? About 10,000 different ASL signs exist that corresponds to English, which has about 200,000 words.

How many people use ASL in the world? ›

Worldwide, there are about 70 million Deaf people who use a sign language as their first language, and it is also the first language to many hearing. There are 130 sign languages listed on The Ethnologue language database, however there are more known but undocumented languages. No sign language is identical.

What is considered fluent in ASL? ›

It's measured in how well you can carry a conversation in sign language.. how fluent your signs are. Are your signs awkward and choppy? As a general rule of thumb, You need a vocabulary of at least 1,000 words in a language to be able to carry on a basic conversation.

Is ASL easier to learn than English? ›

As with anything new, learning a language takes time, patience, and hard work. Some have the misconseption that learning ASL is easier than learning a spoken language. This is incorrect. Experts estimate that it takes 3-4 years to become fluent in a new language on average.

What is the fastest you can become fluent in a language? ›

True language fluency requires consistent effort and time, and while 500 – 1,000 hours may seem like a lot, a typical person could probably invest that level of time over 12 – 18 months, with the right study schedule.

How many words are in ASL? ›

Sign languages have about the same number of words that vocal languages have (anywhere from 40,000 to 140,000 words), and yes, they have grammar (all languages have grammar).

Which language app makes you fluent? ›

Duolingo really is great for all language students. It's available on all major platforms and works great on mobile devices. You can learn as many languages as you want for free, and there are more than 30 languages to choose from. It works very well for beginners and intermediate level students.

Is babble or Duolingo better? ›

Is Babbel better than Duolingo? After thoroughly testing out and reviewing each language learning program, we feel that Babbel is better than Duolingo for multiple reasons. Based on the strength of their curriculum, teaching style and delivery, we rate Babbel as the superior app over Duolingo.

What language app should I use? ›

Read on for our recommendations to help you become fluent in your second or even third tongue.
  • Best Language Learning App Overall: Babbel.
  • Best App for Learning a Language From Real Native Speakers: Memrise.
  • Best Free Language Lessons: Duolingo.
  • Best App Learning Accurate Pronunciation: Mondly.
22 Jan 2021

Why is learning ASL so difficult? ›

Like any spoken language, ASL is a language with its own unique rules of grammar and syntax. To learn enough signs for basic communication and to sign them comfortably, can take a year or more. Some people pick up signs more slowly than others, and if that is the case with you, don't be discouraged.

How often should I practice ASL? ›

"How often should a student attend to an ASL class during the week?" According to the ASLTA article, they highly recommend three to five times a week and I absolutely agree. Let's take my example of how I learned high-advanced sign language in just three months when I was 16 years old at the Deaf school named MSSD.

How can I improve my ASL skills? ›

15 tips for learning American Sign Language
  1. Learn the 100 most important vocabulary. ...
  2. Learn the finger alphabet. ...
  3. Learn to sign the phrase “How do I sign … ?” ...
  4. Conversation! ...
  5. Find a practice buddy or join the local Deaf community. ...
  6. Don't worry about understanding everything. ...
  7. Learn phrases you frequently use.

Does Duolingo get you to B2? ›

At Duolingo, we're developing our courses to get you to a level called B2, at which you can get a job in the language you're studying. Reaching that kind of proficiency requires dedication, varied practice opportunities, and a lot of time.

How fast can you finish Duolingo? ›

(You can test out of levels to speed things along, but we're keeping things simple for this thought experiment!) To finish a language tree on Duolingo in 6 months, you will need to spend a minimum of 130 minutes per day on Duolingo, for a full 180 days. That's 2 hours and ten minutes.

Can Duolingo get you to B1? ›

By reaching the end of Unit 5, Duolingo learners have completed all the lessons in the beginner sections of our courses, called A1 and A2, and are starting intermediate B1 material.

Is it true that ASL is the 3rd most used language in the US? ›

ASL is the third most commonly used language in the United States, after English and Spanish.

What is the least hardest language? ›

Spanish (3/30)

Spanish may be the #1 easiest language to learn. Not only does Spanish share the same alphabet – with the sole addition of ñ – but it's also phonetic. That makes figuring out new vocabulary easy, since the spelling tells you how to pronounce it.

What is the toughest language? ›

Mandarin

As mentioned before, Mandarin is unanimously considered the most difficult language to master in the world! Spoken by over a billion people in the world, the language can be extremely difficult for people whose native languages use the Latin writing system.

Is there a free app to learn ASL? ›

SignSchool. This free app works for those wanting to learn American Sign Language or develop their ASL vocabulary. Choose from a diverse group of signers and dialects in the dictionary and reinforce your learning with multiple-choice games. Set the daily reminder to learn a new sign every day.

What are the four strategies for learning ASL? ›

Strategies for Learning ASL
  • Focus on the signer's face, not on their hands!
  • Strategies for Learning.
  • Focus on meaning rather than individual signs.
  • Leave English, and your voice, outside the classroom!
  • Building a Langauge Community.
  • Show that you understand the signer.

Does knowing ASL look good on resume? ›

It should not do any harm. Even if the job is not directly related to deaf people, if the job you are applying for involves dealing with the American public, it could be a useful skill occasionally. If the job is not public facing, you could still mention it in the hobbies/interests section of the CV.

Is ASL worth learning? ›

Learning sign language is crucial for those who are deaf or hearing impaired, as well as their friends and family members. But, what many people may not realize is that sign language can be a valuable life skill for just about anyone to develop.

Does ASL look good on a resume? ›

Absolutely. It's a language and also a skill which could potentially be useful for an employer.

› how-to-learn-sign-lang... ›

Sign language is often used instead of spoken language in Deaf communities, as some people with hearing loss have been brought up solely using sign language to ...
How challenging is it to master American Sign Language? Why is learning American Sign Language (ASL) a challenge? One of the big misconceptions about sign langu...
On Saturday I went to the Deaf Night Out here in Austin, where almost everyone (80 or so people that took over the bar) were deaf or hard-of-hearing. After abou...

Is there a free ASL app? ›

SignSchool. This free app works for those wanting to learn American Sign Language or develop their ASL vocabulary. Choose from a diverse group of signers and dialects in the dictionary and reinforce your learning with multiple-choice games.

Is BSL app free? ›

Bright BSL is available to download for free on Google Play and the App Store.

What is the best website to learn ASL? ›

The 7 Best Online Sign Language Classes of 2022
  • Best Overall: Gallaudet University.
  • Best Budget: American Sign Language University.
  • Best for Beginners: ASL Meredith.
  • Best for Families: Sign It! ASL.
  • Best for School Credit: Start ASL.
  • Best for One-on-One Lessons: SignOn Connect.
  • Best for Vocabulary: ASLDeafined.
13 Sept 2022

Is there a universal ASL? ›

There is no universal sign language. Different sign languages are used in different countries or regions. For example, British Sign Language (BSL) is a different language from ASL, and Americans who know ASL may not understand BSL. Some countries adopt features of ASL in their sign languages.

How can I improve my ASL skills? ›

15 tips for learning American Sign Language
  1. Learn the 100 most important vocabulary. ...
  2. Learn the finger alphabet. ...
  3. Learn to sign the phrase “How do I sign … ?” ...
  4. Conversation! ...
  5. Find a practice buddy or join the local Deaf community. ...
  6. Don't worry about understanding everything. ...
  7. Learn phrases you frequently use.

Is there slang in ASL? ›

The same as how spoken languages have slang words, sign languages have their own slang. ASL even has signs for words like “emoji” and “selfie.” Some people consider these signs to not be “proper” signs, just as how some people would argue that slang words aren't proper language.

Is there a duolingo for BSL? ›

With a population of 11 million deaf or hard of hearing people in the UK, and just 151,000 people knowing the language, there is currently a huge communication gap between the Deaf community and the wider population. Duolingo teaches 19 languages for free, but BSL isn't currently an option.

How much is the ASL app? ›

We have 25+ bundles with more coming; once you buy THE ASL APP PACK you get all the paid bundles and upcoming bundles! Know Your ABCs - Learn the ASL alphabet (included, FREE!) Know Your Numbers - Learn all the numbers (included, FREE!)

How long will it take me to learn BSL? ›

Bear in mind that most BSL interpreters study for around seven years to become fully qualified, but don't let that put you off! You can work in various contexts as you train and remember that there is an element of life-long learning – you will never be finished!

Is ASL the hardest language to learn? ›

Sign language is one of the easiest languages to learn. So many of the signs are commonplace gestures. Children pick up on the signs quickly and are eager to use them.

Is ASL easier than Spanish? ›

If your first language is English, you might still find Spanish easier to learn than ASL, since there are some cognates in common. If you're an auditory learner, you'll probably find it easier to learn Spanish than ASL, which is spoken in the visual modality.

Why is it hard to learn ASL? ›

Like any spoken language, ASL is a language with its own unique rules of grammar and syntax. To learn enough signs for basic communication and to sign them comfortably, can take a year or more. Some people pick up signs more slowly than others, and if that is the case with you, don't be discouraged.

What language is ASL most similar to? ›

ASL is most closely related to French Sign Language (LSF). It has been proposed that ASL is a creole language of LSF, although ASL shows features atypical of creole languages, such as agglutinative morphology.

What are the four strategies for learning ASL? ›

Strategies for Learning ASL
  • Focus on the signer's face, not on their hands!
  • Strategies for Learning.
  • Focus on meaning rather than individual signs.
  • Leave English, and your voice, outside the classroom!
  • Building a Langauge Community.
  • Show that you understand the signer.

What is the easiest language to learn? ›

15 of the easiest languages to learn for English speakers - ranked
  • Frisian. Frisian is thought to be one of the languages most closely related to English, and therefore also the easiest for English-speakers to pick up. ...
  • Dutch. ...
  • Norwegian. ...
  • Spanish. ...
  • Portuguese. ...
  • Italian. ...
  • French. ...
  • Swedish.
24 Oct 2021

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