Why Sign Language Is A Useful Language To Learn
Some people considered sign language as a form of art, they considered it beautiful and graceful. Do you know any sign language? Would you consider it useful in your daily life? Why is it important and useful to learn it? We'll try to answer all that below, but first, let's define what sign language is. Sign language is a language that uses signs made with hands and other movements (facial expressions and body postures) and is essentially used by deaf people.
You may not know this, but there's not just one universal sign language, there are many. There's the British Sign language, which by the way, is not intelligible to users of American Sign language because it uses a different system (a two-handed alphabet). American Sign language (ASL) is a complete language, a complex one too. As said before, it employs signs that are made with the hands, but it involves also facial expressions and other body movements. It's said to be the fourth language most commonly used in the US.
There are some differences between spoken language and ASL. The most important devices to communicate in spoken language are the different sounds created by words an intonation. In Sign language, sight is most important, that's how deaf people communicate and receive information. That's why they used the hands (shapes, position, and movement), the body (gestures), the face (facial expressions) and other visual cues to form words.
American Sign language, even though it's used in the US, is totally separate from English. ASL is a language that functions on its own, it has all the fundamental features, it has its own grammar, punctuation and sentence order. It allows for evolution as it evolves as its users do, and depending on the region, it allows for its own jargon. Like every language, ASL has its own way of expression, for example, in spoken English when you ask a question, you use a particular tone of voice, the users of ASL ask the question by raising their eyebrows and widening the eyes (some even tilt their body forward).
American Sign language offers different ways of expressing ideas, it offers synonyms to express common words, it also changes depending on the region, as words are spoken differently in different parts of the country. ASL is also affected by ethnicity, age, and gender, all that's what give it variety and makes it so useful to learn.
These are other reasons why learning sign language could prove useful to you.
You may actually need it at some point in life
Hearing loss is more common than you think, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 28 million people in the US have some sort of hearing loss. There's a small percentage of totally deaf people that don't use sign language to communicate, they rely on lip-reading or other forms of communication. Deaf people who use sign language are limited to communicate among their community and will require an interpreter wherever they go, Learning the language will allow you to communicate with them and help them communicate with the world.
Also, 17 out of 1,000 people, according to NIDCD, will experience some sort of hearing loss. it could be someone dear in your family. so learning sign language will be also useful in that scenario.
It can make you a better listener
When using sign language, you must engage in eye contact with the one you're communicating with. You can't look away, as you can do with spoken language because then you won't be able to listen. It's like you are listening with your eyes, you really have to pay attention and that habit can make you a better listener in the spoken language.
A hearing child can benefit from learning ASL
Babies can benefit from learning sign language, they can learn to make signs (the simple ones) to communicate what they need way before they're ready to speak. Also, children benefit from learning a second language, they are like sponges for knowledge, for them, it'll be easy and fun to learn. Knowing sign language can help them to better define the word they're communicating, such as prepositions or adjectives; and for early readers, just knowing the alphabet in sign language can be a great tool.
You can use it when spoken word is not possible
Sign language has some advantages over spoken language, for example, you can use it underwater, or when you're talking through a glass, or from a distance. You can also use it for talking at a loud music concert or at a club. It can be used to express your like or dislike over something without speaking and interrupting another conversation.
Basic Sign Language for LGBT
American Sign Language offers variety, as we talked before, in terms of age, ethnicity, and gender. The LGBT community has its own signs and words to identify and describe themselves. Here are some basic signs.
They use a 4 handshape in neutral placement (the movement arcs from nondominant side to non-dominant side), to reference the rainbow flag that Gilbert Baker made popular.
Signs to identify themselves
Sign for love
This how they spell LGBT in sign language.
Basic Sign Language for Couple
If you want to express or communicate in American Sign Language that you are a couple, you can do it this way.
There's a variation to communicate that two persons are closely associated, married or in a romantic relationship, that they're a twosome.
How To Learn And Remember Sign Language
As you know, sign Language consists of an elaborate system of hand and arm movement, as well as, facial expression and even body movements. The language was designed for people with some kind of hearing loss but it's not exclusive, you can learn it too. As we talked above, it could prove useful and it can be fun too.
Here are some tips on how to learn the language and remember it. Now, thanks to the Internet you can even learn it at home.
Take a sign language class
There's no better way to learn sign language than to take a class. You can look for classes near you, often, they're offered at community centers or community colleges or other educational centers. You can look for qualified sign language tutors if you are looking to get certified. Taking a class has some advantages. You get to meet other people who're also interested in the language and you get to practice it face to face.
Look for videos online
There are a lot of resources online like Youtube or BS Zone or the ASL sign dictionary where you can learn easily online. Just hit play and start watching and learning, all from the comfort of home.
Take and online course
If it's not possible for you to take in-person classes (for whatever reason) then look for an online course. Do some research to find the best choice for you, some Deaf organizations offer this kind of resource. The online mode has some advantages too. You can go at your own pace, you can do a repeat as many times as you need and there's no pressure to complete it.
Start by learning the alphabet
If you want to sign correctly, start by learning the sign alphabet. The alphabet can be signed completely with one hand, using different hand positions for each letter. Learning the alphabet first can be extremely useful because if you don't know how to sign a particular word, you can spell it out.
Download and app
You can also learn sign language on-the-go, through an app. There are ASL apps that can help you stay refresh (if you already know some sign language) and there are others that can teach sign language, so you can learn anywhere at any time.
The ASL App
This app was designed by bilingual (English and ASL) Deaf people. The purpose is to teach conversational ASL. It has more than 1000 videos so you can have fun while learning sign language. It is available for IOS and Android.
Hands On ASL
This app is a unique tool to learn sign language, it has a playful user interface with 3D models to view signs form all angles. It focuses on teaching the alphabet using fingerspelling exercises. It's available for IOS and Android.
Just to be sure you actually remember what you learn and have it fresh if you need to use it, here are a few tips on how to no forget ASL.
Go back or re-watch lessons or videos of the signs or words that give you trouble
For example, if you have trouble with ASL numbers, then go back to the lesson or hit rewind and watch the video again. Practice again and then test yourself to see if now you've got it. It could be a good idea too to, once in a while, give a review of the signs and words that you feel confident about, just to stay fresh.
Use a mirror to practice signs and take videos of your practice
Sign language is visual, so if you want to get it right, you need to see what you're signing and your expressions and, what better way to do that than in front of a mirror? So while you're practicing, do it in front of a mirror and, it could be a good idea to take videos of your practicing so you can watch them later and review what you did right and what you did wrong so you can do it again until you nail it.
The best way to learn and remember sign language is to practice, practice, practice.
Some people consider sign language beautiful and graceful, maybe because the users add some element of drama in their communication, with all the facial expressions and body movements. Maybe you see it that way, but now you also know that it's also a very useful language to learn and fun too.