How to Say Semester in ASL

American Sign Language (ASL) is a vibrant and expressive language used by the Deaf community in the United States. Understanding how to accurately convey specific terms in ASL is essential for effective communication. In this guide, we will explore various ways to express the concept of “semester” in ASL, including both formal and informal variations. While regional variations exist, we will mainly focus on the standard ASL used throughout the country.

Formal Ways to Say “Semester” in ASL

When discussing “semester” in a formal setting, such as an educational or professional environment, you can utilize the following signs:


The sign for “SCHOOL” involves bringing both hands together, palms facing each other, and gently tapping the sides of your forehead. Then, for “PERIOD,” you place both open hands side by side, palms facing down, and move them forward together.

Example: “This semester I’m taking four classes.”

2. Sign: TERM

The sign for “TERM” involves tapping your non-dominant hand with your dominant hand, palm facing down. The movement should be similar to tapping your fingers on a table.

Example: “The fall semester starts next week.”

3. Sign: SCHOOL + TIME

For this sign, you perform the sign for “SCHOOL” as mentioned earlier, and then you use the sign for “TIME” by pointing to your watch or imaginary wristwatch.

Example: “The semester ends in two weeks.”

Informal Ways to Say “Semester” in ASL

For casual conversations or informal settings, you may come across different sign variations for “semester” in ASL. These signs are popular among Deaf individuals and students:

1. Sign: TERM

As mentioned earlier, the sign for “TERM” involves tapping your non-dominant hand with your dominant hand.

Example: “I’m excited for the new semester to begin.”

2. Sign: PERIOD

Similar to the formal sign mentioned earlier, the sign for “PERIOD” involves placing both open hands side by side, palms facing down, and moving them forward together.

Example: “Last semester was challenging, but I got through it.”

Tips for Effective Communication in ASL

To ensure effective communication while using ASL, consider the following tips:

  1. Facial Expressions: Facial expressions play a crucial role in ASL and can help convey important nuances and emotions. Maintain a warm and receptive demeanor throughout your conversation.
  2. Body Language: Just like facial expressions, body language is an essential part of ASL. Use natural, fluid movements and maintain eye contact with the person you are communicating with.
  3. Practice: Consistent practice is key to becoming proficient in ASL. Engage with the Deaf community, attend ASL events, or utilize online resources to improve your signing skills.
  4. Patience and Respect: Be patient and respectful when communicating with Deaf individuals. Allow them enough time to sign their thoughts and avoid interrupting or finishing their sentences.

Regional Variations in ASL

While ASL is predominantly uniform across the United States, regional variations do exist. However, these variations seldom affect the sign for “semester.” The formal and informal signs mentioned above are widely used throughout the country.

If you encounter a regional variation, it’s best to adapt and learn from the local Deaf community to ensure effective communication in that specific region.

Remember, ASL is a constantly evolving language, shaped by the Deaf community’s cultural experiences and linguistic expression. Embrace the beauty and richness of ASL as you explore and learn new signs.

In conclusion, when discussing “semester” in ASL, you can utilize signs like SCHOOL + PERIOD, TERM, or SCHOOL + TIME in formal settings. For more casual conversations, the signs TERM or PERIOD work well. Remember the importance of facial expressions, body language, and consistent practice for effective ASL communication. Stay open-minded to regional variations, if necessary, and always engage with the Deaf community to deepen your understanding of this beautiful language.

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