One of the main places sign language is used is around the home and to carry out everyday tasks. This is because many of the users of sign language are deaf people who need to be able to communicate their basic needs and requests to the people who need to be able to understand them, such as their friends and family, and also, people that they come into contact with on a daily basis.
For the purposes of this article the phrases and words described will be in British Sign Language as to explain the signs for several different languages would become confusing. Bear in mind though, that this is simply giving you the vocabulary and you must learn the grammatical structures to be able to use these words in coherent sentences. Also bear in mind that British Sign Language does not have the same structure as English and thus until you are used to it, words will seem to be in an odd order.
Things at HomeFor many of the at home tasks, the vocabulary will come in most useful for parents of deaf children as they can understand and interpret their children's needs and give them what they want. For example, the sign for bed is a clawed hand held up to the side of the head. And the sign for bath is the action of using a loofah on the back. The equivalent for shower is putting the hand above the head and mimicking water coming out of it. Telephone and computer are both fairly self explanatory - telephone is the familiar thumb and little finger extended and brought up to the face in the place you would hold the phone, while the sing for computer mimics the keyboard action with fingers tapping.
FamilyIf a deaf child wants to refer to a family member it will be very useful to have the words for the family members, so that you know to whom they are referring. Mother is the M sign twice - the first three fingers tapped twice on the palm. The word for father is to hold the first two fingers out on each hand and have the fingers of one tap the other. Other names will generally be spelt out letter by letter.
TimeExpressions of time are also useful words to know for carrying out everyday tasks. The word for week is to hold out one hand with the palm downwards, then brush the other hand, with index finger out, along it. Month is the sign for M, while next week is the index finger pointing out and moving forward in an arc. Tomorrow is portrayed by the index finger being held at the cheek and then moving forward while yesterday is similar, but with the index finger moving backwards instead.
Just as when introducing oneself or getting to know people, as you become more fluent, you will build these words up into longer sentences. But for a beginner, getting on top of some of the vocabulary is the most important thing they can do. Because from this point, you can go on to form sentences, questions and hold conversation.