Lingvano is an interactive platform for learning American Sign Language (opens in new tab) (ASL). It’s accessible across all your devices (desktop, smartphone, or tablet) and aims to teach you ASL in bitesize lessons that build up your knowledge of the language by learning for just a few minutes a day.
With a bright design and learning supported via language quizzes and games, it is similar to apps such as Duolingo (opens in new tab) and is suitable for complete beginners. By the end of the course, you should be able to hold basic conversations in ASL and describe a variety of opinions and things in the world around you. But is Lingvano’s approach to ASL effective for learning the language? Does it deserve a place among the best ASL online courses (opens in new tab)? Read on for our review of the interactive learning platform.
Lingvano review: Teaching Method
Lingvano’s ASL lessons are taught via a series of short video clips demonstrating each sign, as well as with short quizzes along the way used to test your knowledge. You’re encouraged to build individual signs into full sentences quickly and are taught non-manual markers (non-hand gestures such as facial expressions or nods) early on, meaning the course seems very much made for someone who wants to get right into the practical side of the language, rather than learning about its history or wider use.
One difficulty in learning sign language online can be knowing whether your signs are appearing correctly to the receiver. However, Lingvano has a clever way of overcoming this. On each sign, you’re given the option to turn on your computer’s webcam and use it as a mirror, so you’re able to check the accuracy of your own signs. This is in contrast to other platforms such as Sign It! (opens in new tab), which largely get you to learn the sign just from copying videos alone.
Lingvano review: Course Content
The Lingvano course has a total of five modules: ‘Introduction’, ‘Everyday Life’, ‘You & Me’, ‘On The Way’ and ‘Around The World’. Each of these modules contains around 12 lessons, meaning you get over 60 lessons as part of a paid membership. However, the first lesson of each module is available for free for anyone wanting to get a feel for the course content.
Lessons are fairly short and full of easy-to-digest bitesize knowledge, meaning it should be easy to fit in a lesson during a lunch break or on the go. Each topic is introduced with short video clips introducing new vocabulary, followed by a short multiple-choice quiz. Your knowledge is then brought together into a short dialogue that includes everything you’ve just learned and you finish off each lesson with a final review. This format is comprehensive; you learn new signs both at an individual level, as used in a real-world context, and as part of a wider picture of everything else you’ve already learned, which means you can clearly and quickly see how your knowledge of the language is building over time.
The dictionary and vocabulary trainer sections also offer a great option for brushing up on your knowledge outside of lessons.
The platform includes sections on ‘iconic signs’, or signs which are easily recognizable due to their representation (for example, the sign for swimming is someone moving their arms as though swimming). It also includes notes about different styles of signing (similar to accents or dialects in spoken language) so you can be ready for how the language may vary in a real-world context.
Lingvano review: Ease of use and accessibility
The course is well-designed and easy to navigate, as well as being mobile-friendly for anyone wanting to learn on the go. Unlike some platforms which are designed for desktop-first use, Lingvano seems designed with the mobile user in mind. Short, gif-like clips to illustrate signs and dialogue mean you’re never waiting around for videos to buffer and it’s unlikely to eat into your cell phone data in the way a video-heavy course might.
Lingvano review: Cost
Although you can access a small number of lessons for free on Lingvano, they’re just a taster and anyone who’s looking to learn ASL comprehensively would find it best to pay for access to the whole course.
Full course access includes access to all lessons as well as the platform’s ASL dictionary and ‘vocabulary trainer’. Lingvano says payment goes towards supporting the “ongoing development of new learning content and features” and it offers a 20-day money-back guarantee in case you’re not happy with the platform.
The price to access the whole course ranges from $9.99 to $17.99 a month, depending on whether you pay monthly, quarterly, or annually.
Should I use Lingvano?
Lingvano is a fun, easy-to-use platform that allows you to pick up ASL signs and sentences quickly with a relatively short time commitment each day. Rather than getting weighed down in theory or grammatical concepts, it builds on your knowledge via practice and exposure, rather than academic concepts, which makes it ideal for anyone wanting to jump right into the practical use of the language.
However, this means Lingvano might not be a good platform for anyone also interested in learning about deaf culture or history, or who is interested in studying the language from a more academic standpoint. However, it could make a good addition to any in-person lessons.
The course cost is also fairly reasonable, especially if you know you want to learn ASL over the long-term and are able to commit to paying quarterly or annually rather than monthly.
Overall, Lingvano is a very good platform that brings fun to the sometimes difficult task of learning a language.