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American Sign Language for Kids Review by Kim Kargbo

Language Tree

Language Tree produces a number of DVDs for teaching foreign languages to children. This review is for their ASL DVD, Beginner Level 1, Volume 1. The DVD contains seven lessons on basic American Sign Language (ASL) vocabulary and fingerspelling. The lessons are on fingerspelling and numbers, pronouns, salutations, occupations, family members, rooms in a house, and colors. Using a combination of real actors and animation, the lessons are taught for young children.

This DVD is definitely just an overview for young children, not a language learning course. It is fun and fast-paced, sometimes too fast-paced, I think. The signs are repeated only once, so you have to pay close attention as you go. A positive aspect is that the signs are explained, helping children to understand why certain hand motions are used for each sign. This helps solidify the motions and makes them make sense. Another positive aspect of this video is that tips are given for interacting with the deaf community, which is useful in understanding deaf culture in general.

I found the background music (which is continuous) to be very distracting and annoying. Some children might like it. Mine didn't. The DVD is about 40 minutes long from start to finish. It sells for $19.99 retail.

I think this DVD would be good for preschool and early elementary children in small segments (one lesson at a time), as long as there was a facilitator to reinforce the lessons and allow the children to practice the signs. Otherwise, I think most of it would just go right by them.

Product review by Kim Kargbo, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, October 2011