10 Sign Language Signs Every Latino Should Know

You probably know how to say a few words in a number of different languages. Throughout our lifetimes, we pick up tidbits: how to say "Hello" in German, "Goodbye" in Japanese, or "Thank You" in French.

But, how many words can you sign in American Sign Language (ASL)? Probably not too many. In celebration of National Deaf History Month, challenge yourself to learn a few phrases and words of the language. From "Grandma" to "I Love You," here are 10 things every Latino should be able to sign: 


1. Good Morning!

Good Morning: 

As In: “Good morning! It’s going to be a great day, no?” 

How To: First, you have to learn to sign for “good”: take your dominant hand, flattened, with the palm up and slight bent. Touch the tips to the chin and reach out slightly downward motion. To sign “morning”, think of the sun coming up! The same hand shape is used, but use the other hand as the “horizon.” The fingers of the non-dominant hand go into the bend of the opposite elbow. See a video demonstration at Signing Savvy

2. How Are You?

How Are You?: 

As In: “How are you, primo? I haven’t seen you in ages!”

How To: Cup both your hands into an “M” shape on your chest. Flip them over, and point towards the person whom you’re directed the question towards. See a demonstration here

3. I Love You!

I love you: 

As In: “I love you so much, mi amor!” 

How To: With your dominant hand, lift your thumb, index finger and pinky. Leave your two middle fingers facing downward. See a video demonstration here.

4. Mama and Papa

Mama and Papa:

As In: "Oh my God, Mama and Papa, stop embarrasing me!" 

How To: To sign for “Dad” or “Papa”, take your dominant hand, spread out, and place the thumb against your forehead.  Tap your thumb against your forehead.

To sign for “Mom” or “Mama”, do the same motion as papa, but focus on the chin area. Take your dominant hand and place the thumb against your chin. Tap your thumb against your chin.

See demonstrations here and here

5. Grandma and Grandpa

Grandma and Grandpa: 

As In: "Can't wait to go to Grandma's and Grandpa's house and eat some tamales on Christmas Eve!" 

How To: To sign for “Grandma”, begin as you would to sign for “Mama”. Instead of tapping your hand against your chin, move it forward in an “M” motion. See the demonstration.

To sign for “Grandpa”, begin as you would to sign for “Papa.” Take your open palm, and instead of pressing it against your forward, move it forward in an “M” motion. See how to do it here and here.

6. Church


As in: “Yes, abuela, of course I went to church on Sunday!”

How To: To make the sign, flatten your left hand with the palm down. Make a “C” shape with your right hand, and pat it twice on the top of your left hand. See the video here.

7. Taco


As In: “I could really go for some tacos al pastor right now!” 

How To: To sign for “taco”, cup your left hand and make a chopping motion with your right hand through the cup. See a demonstration here.

8. Yummy


As In: “Yes, abuela, your pollo y arroz is yummy! Can I have some more, please?”

How To: There are several ASL options for the word “yummy”, but our favorite (and the easiest!) is simply to place your palms on your chest and rotate in opposite directions. See a video here

9. Jalapeño


As In: “Can I have some more jalapeños, please?”

How To: In order to make the sign for “jalepeño”, take your right hand and cross your index finger over your thumb. Then, make two quick downward motions. See the demonstration

10. Tortilla


As In: “Would you like a corn or a flour tortilla with your breakfast taco?” 

How To: Unfortunately, there’s no sign for tortilla. But, you can learn to finger spell the word over at Signing Saavy’s website