Sundays at 10:30am
Deaf and hearing people socialize together using sign language! Deaf Brunch is NOT designed to be the sole ASL learning activity but rather to be a way to supplement other work you are doing to learn the language. Use one or more of the activities below, then come to Brunch to socialize in the language rather than using Brunch as a focus on learning the language.
Where can I learn American Sign Language (ASL)?
Most Sundays at 10:30am, deaf and hearing people come to the New Deal Cafe to hang out and socialize. We call ourselves New Deal Deaf Brunch. All of our conversations are in ASL (American Sign Language). ASL is a visual, gestural language that has its own grammar and syntax, just like other languages such as French, Arabic, or any other language you might consider.
Learning a language takes commitment and practice, just like any other area of knowledge or skill you may already have. In formal study of ASL, there are levels, just as there may be levels for other languages you may have studied (French I, French II, and so on). Informal practice — such as New Deal Deaf Brunch conversations — is the necessary second half to focused study of ASL.
Locally, here are some places you can learn ASL. ASL coursework will be listed first, followed by informal no-cost ways to learn. For courses, please consult the online course listing for up to date information about registration, course times and days, and costs.
- City of Greenbelt Department of Recreation: The Recreation Department offers eight week ASL classes. Cost is $50 for Greenbelt Residents, $63 for nonresidents; seniors (60+) get a 10% discount. By early May, the Summer 2016 Activity Guide will be posted at http://www.greenbeltmd.gov/recreation.
- Prince George’s Community College offers COM 325: Sign Language 1, COM 330, Sign Language 2, and COM 378 ASL Vocabulary Building. Type COM in the search box on the website to help you find these courses.
- Community College of Baltimore County has an extensive list of ASL courses. Type INTR in the search box on the website to help you find ASL courses. Just a few of those courses are ASL I, ASL II (continues through ASL V), and Deaf Issues: Past and Present.
- Germantown Library in Montgomery County: From time to time, the Germantown Library offers free ASL classes. Contact the library to learn of current offerings: 240-777-0110, or by email at .
- Gallaudet University is the only liberal arts institution in the world established specifically for deaf students. It has a rich history and place in Deaf culture. Gallaudet offers an extensive list of ASL courses both face to face and online.
- Montgomery College’s listing of courses
Informal ways of learning ASL
Learning a language requires regular learning and practice. If formal courses do not work for you, try some of these electronic resources.
Many ASL websites do not teach you the language. Instead, they teach you ASL vocabulary. There’s more to learning a language than vocabulary of course, but sometimes websites are a good start. The specific websites listed below offer you an opportunity to learn ASL as a language, not just ASL vocabulary. In addition, the websites listed below have a strong connection with members of the Deaf community.
Even though websites are there anytime, learning a language will still require you to use the website on a very regular basis, DAILY if you can do so. Consider focusing on specific areas so that when you come to Brunch, you have done “homework” in particular topics, vocabulary, grammar that is essential to meaning, receptive skills (that is, your ability to understand what has been signed TO you), or other areas.
This website offers a free version of ASL instruction and a modestly priced version. Some of the people who have developed this training are Deaf. Learning ASL from a Deaf instructor is highly valued by members of the Deaf community.
This website offers ASL courses at a cost. The instructor is Deaf with many years of experience working in positions in the Deaf community. The course is suitable for home schooled students or others who wish to learn ASL independently.
Gallaudet University offers online ASL courses for a cost. Gallaudet University is the only liberal arts university in the world designed specifically for Deaf students. It is known worldwide for its leadership in the Deaf community.
The Deaf News website will not teach you ASL but will provide you with examples of ASL in use, with captions in English so you can understand what has been signed.
Informal ASL practice
These are informal meetings among those who are learning ASL. Practice is the goal of these get-togethers, with socializing as a secondary aspect. Find local ASL meetups at meetup.com/topics/asl/.