#6. Talk to the Hand

Last night I knocked out another item on my 30 Before 30 List by attending my first American Sign Language (ASL) class. That’s right. I said, “American.”

ASL Fun Fact #1 (Excuse me while I act like Ted Mosby at the Empire State Building): Every country uses different sign language. Except for Canada. They use ASL. Thank you, Canada, for making my life a little easier.


The first hour of class our instructor had an interpreter, but the last hour and a half, we were on our own to communicate.

I immediately started waving my hands around to act like I already knew some sign language.

Not really. I sat there afraid to move because I didn’t want anyone to think I knew what I was doing.

Ever since I remembered that my class was on Monday (I remembered on Sunday), I was scared. I took Latin in school, and I rocked it.

I rocked Latin because:

  • We also learned a lot about mythology and the culture from that time. I love that stuff. If my parents would have paid for me to major in Greek and Roman mythology, I would have.
  • I didn’t have to speak it. I was shy and preferred not talking.
  • The language was written and writing things repetitvely is one of the best ways I learn.

How was going to write ASL? I can’t even draw a stick figure! How am I supposed to draw hand signs and movements? I’m going to fail!

Calm down, I told myself. You have an English degree. Although the English language is a little weird, you ‘ll do fine because you know all the parts of a sentence and know the difference between passive and active voice.

And then I learned these fun facts about ASL:

  • Facial expressions relay the grammar of a sentence. For example, raising or lowering my eyebrows indicates the subject. Sometimes my eyebrows have a mind of their own. What if one goes up while the other goes down?
  • You determine the tense by how far away your hands are from your body. For future tense should my hands be 8 inches or 2 feet away from my body? What if I’m feeling lazy one day and don’t stretch my arms out far enough?
  • And the signs for bathroom and Tuesday are almost identical! I already see my future on this one. I’ll want to meet the teacher for tutoring on Tuesday and I say, “I’ll meet you in the bathroom.”

And then she’ll fail me.

About thoughtsappear

I eat lots of sugar. It's the only way to keep up with my new baby and to outrun zombies. View all posts by thoughtsappear

24 responses to “#6. Talk to the Hand

  • Marliz3e

    Hehehe, good luck!!! I loved the fun fact…
    But it sounds like you are in the midst of a mini panic attack! Breathe….

  • Lorraine

    All the sign language I know I learned from a book with a 1960’s looking sit-and-be-fit type woman demonstrating everything.

    Perhaps a class would be more effective…

    You’re really knocking out these 30 before 30 things. I made a list and er… that’s it.


  • Amy

    Yeah, I’ve heard that ASL is a completely different language with little to nothing in common with English grammar. If you put a gun to my head, I could do the alphabet and “thank you” and that’s about it. I’ve always thought it would be cool to learn it, though. Learning to read lips would be pretty awesome, too!

    • thoughtsappear

      I’m with you. I knew the alphabet and thank you. And a few cuss words.

      Now I can sign numbers, introduce myself, ask someone else’s name, and ask one word questions, such as Why? What? Where?

  • izziedarling

    Wow, am impressed. Went to a deaf church Easter service once and it was amazing. Of course, I was LOST, but still …..

  • Pauline

    “Facial expressions relay the grammar of a sentence. For example, raising or lowering my eyebrows indicates the subject. Sometimes my eyebrows have a mind of their own. What if one goes up while the other goes down?”

    Oh God, really? That must lead to some major misunderstandings!

    My friend’s boyfriend is deaf and he took an ASL class to be able to communicate with him awhile ago. (Before that, they were feverishly writing notes back and forth to each other!) He practices every single day though since they live together so that makes learning a language easier.

    I want to learn Mandarin, but it is difficult because it is tonal. Changing the tone of your voice completely changes the word! It is pretty tough!

  • TonyVote

    Congrats on completing another 30 before 30. I hope you do well with sign language. What made you want to learn it?

  • Vodka and Ground Beef

    I’ve been wanting to take sign language for awhile. It would be fun to be in your class to see your facial expressions.

  • mct88

    Good luck with the class and yeah for crossing off something on your list 🙂

    Both my nieces are starting to learn sign language. My cousin’s son has downs-they’re teaching his sign as well, he’s about 3 years old.

  • welcome to the middle of life

    Hey good for you! Sign language is pretty cool. ANd when you have kids you can teach it to them.
    I have a list of things in my head to put on a real list of things to do before I’m too old to do any of them. That’s as far as I’ve gotten.

  • fatisnotanoption

    You’re so funny!!! ASL sounds awesome! I wish I could learn!!! Good luck!!

  • Abby

    Best of luck! I don’t think I’d be coordinated enough for this class. “Do I raise my eyebrows now? Now??”

  • Sass

    Asl rocks! I used to speak it fluently when I was like 8 til 11 because I had a cousin who refused to speak even though he could, so we all took sign language class to accomodate him. But now he talks, and I moved to a different continent, so I think its safe to say my sign language is pretty rusty. But I still love to watch other people speak it. Once you get the hang of it, it’ll just flow 😀

    p.s. I love the HIMYM reference 😀

  • mescribe

    Oh, the wit. I come here whenever I’m in need of a wide smile because you never fail to deliver. Great post, great to see that you’re still working towards crossing more things off your list (which reminds me, I should get started on that chocolate cake recipe…), wonderful use of your time to learn sign language and, yeah, it sounds hard as caramel brittle. Good luck with that. 😉

  • Carl D'Agostino

    The thing about Greek and Roman mythology is that the educated classes understood the myths metaphorically and philosophically. Just like the Hebrews but our present religion demands we accept Adam and Eve and such as fact. Thanks visit my blog.

  • Dambreaker

    I’m out of Pop-Tarts.

    Sign Language was definitely an adventure for Me that I completely enjoyed. I started taking classes at ground zero, barely knowing how to finger spell the alphabet correctly and then it exploded to being able to translate what could be considered every day conversation or important signs, such as “fire, police, and help me!” and finished off every semester with the translation of a song that may or may not have been popular in current times or long ago. Throughout the semesters of learning this over and over and over again, students didn’t bother with asking questions of the teacher. Noooo, they were asking ME their questions.And as expected a few of them wanted Me to teach them how to curse using Sign Language. Well, the “Big One” is quite universal- what more did they need?

    However, with the beginning of each semester that I had absorbed the information taught, other students would be dazzled at the fact that I could do this flawlessly. Or so they said.

    The last time I took a course, the teacher backed off and I taught the lesson plans for the day. Suddenly, everyone was paying attention. Nobody was playing with their hair, their cell phones, or anything else that could have been a distraction.

    I’m not sure if I wanna go back to class…………….

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